Pre-Need planning is a wonderful gift to those you love. As a rule of thumb, a pre-need funeral contract refers to the purchase of funeral goods and services before a person passes away. Why would someone want to pre-plan?

The pre-arrangement allows the person to speak directly to the funeral director about his or her own funeral wishes and preferences. By having pre-planning the service, the individual is providing significant relief to surviving family members from having to make decisions during a time of tumult and grieving in addition to relieving the survivors from a financial burden. Additionally, there is a Medicaid planning benefit to planning as well. Persons who currently qualify for Medicaid assistance or who anticipate qualifying may pre-pay their funerals without impacting their Medicaid eligibility. As this is an exempt purchase. The drawback to pre-planning is that the person is tying up the money.

Now there are really two types of pre-need contract: a guaranteed price contract and a non-guaranteed. In a guaranteed price contract the funeral home guarantees the funeral goods and services the planning person selects at the amount of money stated in the agreement. Which means there will be no need for additional payment later.selected for the amount of money stated in the contract. This means that you or your estate will not be required to pay any additional cost for the guaranteed items. The “non guaranteed contract” treats the amount paid for planning as a deposit against the final costs which is determined at the time of the actual funeral services provided.

If the contract does not guarantee the prices charged, the price of the funeral will be determined at the time the services and merchandise are provided. Any amount you pre-pay will be considered as a deposit to be applied toward the purchase price.

Some good questions to ask (in addition to your wishes) during your pre-planning session are:

* Where will the pre-need funds be deposited until they are needed?
* Will I receive verification from the financial institution that the prepaid funds have been deposited in the trust account?
* If the funds are used to purchase an insurance policy, will I receive verification that the policy has been purchased?
* What is covered by the price guarantee?
* Is the pre-need contract irrevocable or revocable?
* If the contract is revocable, how can I cancel the contract?

I have had to handle funeral arrangements for family, friends and client and can tell you. It is a marvelous relief to know a plan was already in place for our loved one.E


“Aging in Place” has become a preference I often hear from clients. It is usually shorthand for a fear of spending last days in an institution like a nursing home.

The reality, as shown by joint study done by an investment firm and AgeWave, shows many seniors have already moved or planned to move to a place they will own – a newer home with modern appliance, no steps, and much less maintenance, such as a condominium. And why are they moving? As reported by Caring Right At Home, a major supplier of home health care, many move to be closer to family (29%), reducing home expenses (26%) and because of changes in their health (17%).

It is not just “downsizing” but what I call “right sizing”, as people realize the large house with stairs and a lawn to maintain isn’t necessary after the kids have left. Because of modern medicine, we are living longer and tend to be more active – not just my grandparents sitting on the porch in a rocking chair. Why spend the time maintaining a home?

Regardless of location, the majority of seniors want long-term care in their home for as long as they are able, so watch for the continued growth of the home care agency. Since, in Ohio, licensing is not required, check out carefully the experience and customer satisfaction stats for any potential caregiver, or see us about making a family member that designated person. Live until you die!


Today’s topic will continue a multi-part discussion of how we provide for our children if we’re not here to advise them and control the flow of money. Statistically, most of us will have elderly children when we pass on, but, for some, our passage occurs much sooner than we would have expected. SO…. What can we do that will bless our children and not create a curse?

I like the statement attributed to Warren Buffett (a billionaire) years ago about wealth and children. I don’t have the source but the story has been repeated at many planning conferences about how Mr. Buffett responded to the question of an interviewer about his plans for his own children. While not giving specifics, Mr. Buffett did respond by saying he had given enough to his children so “they can do something” but not enough so “they don’t have to do anything”. And, as it turns out now, Mr. Buffett has given most of his wealth to the Gates Foundation, which is a major sponsor of world health and nutrition programs. A wise man – he thinks like the British Incentive trusts do have a history in Europe of enduring for centuries, preserving family wealth, providing a comfortable standard of living for the current generation, and supporting charities. Simple American traditional trusts give income to a surviving spouse and then splits to the children upon a spouse’s death.

However, an incentive trust is more like a bank, which requires beneficiaries to propose how they will use the money – start a business, build a house, get an advanced degree, support a charity – and then the trustee, with some independence, determines if that is a worthwhile endeavor. In addition, many incentive trusts have a matching feature for earned income. For example, “Son, if you show me a W-2 for money you earned, your trustee will give you a match up to $xxxxx. If you don’t earn money, your distribution will be very limited.” Talk about an incentive! Or, “Son, if you earn a bachelor’s degree, the trustee will give you $xxxx. Or a master’s degree, $yyyy. Or, if you work as a missionary, your trustee will give you $zzzz/month.” Incentive trusts can show real creativity in their design and have a great beneficial effect for everyone.

Dotty’s Ten Tips for communication with a person living with Dementia

1. Do you know what makes me feel secure? A smile
2. Did you ever consider? When you get uptight it makes me feel tense and uptight.
3. Instead of getting all bent out of shape when I do something that seems perfectly normal to me and perfectly NUTTY to you. Just smile at me it takes the edge off the situation.
4. Please try to understand and remember my short term memory is gone – don’t talk so fast, or use so many words.
5. When you use one of those long winded explanations of me- I’ll say No because I can’t tell what you are asking me to do. Keep your words few and simple so I can follow you.
6. Slow down. Don’t sneak up on me and start talking. Did I mention I like smiles?
7. Make sure you have my attention before you start blabbering away. If you don’t have my attention, I’ll be confused and say NO.
8. My attention span and ability to pay attention are not so good, please make eye contact with me before you start talking. A nice smile always gets my attention. Did I mention that before?
9. Sometimes you talk to me like I’m a child or idiot. How would you like it is I did that to you? Go to your room and think about this. Don’t come back and tell me you are sorry, I won’t know what you are talking about. Just stop doing it and we will get along.
10. You talk too much – instead try taking my hand and leading the way. I need a guide not a person to nag me.

Resource: Alzheimer’s Reading Room


It is hard to understand, if you are logical, why we are still looking at a January 1 reversion to old federal estate tax rates – $1 M exemption.   But somehow in our dumb-downed public discourse, it makes sense to let income taxes go up, so politicians can claim to reduce them in January, and likewise, restore retroactively the federal estate tax exemption at over $5M.  Who knows?  At least the Ohio estate tax is gone on January 1.  I can only relate what tax services report to me that the federal estate tax rates for 2012 are likely going to be extended for 2013, although the president wants to reduce the exemption to $3.5M and raise the rate to 45% from its present 35%.  While I think that estate planners like myself and our clients deal with a lot of uncertainty, can you imagine the plight of the IRS employees?  What forms to they release?  At what rate?   I never thought I would say something sympathetic for the IRS but I just did!  What does scripture say about love for all?   Blessings, Tim