Blog | Lord & Stephens Funeral Homes | Athens, GA
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You can find our latest posts on this page. Click on the blog titles below or click on the calendar to review postings from prior periods. Remember to check back here often!

Plan It…All the Way Out

Published: March 22, 2019

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The ritual harkening the long-awaited approach of spring is upon us – March Madness.

People of all ages, incomes, and professions will be completing their brackets and winding down to the biggest decisions of all … the final four! Players and coaches have been working hard for months leading up to this finale.

The work and preparation leading up to the end of the college basketball season is not unlike what we all do in our professional lives. Most people work for years in anticipation of the day when they will retire and have the luxury of calling their time their own. The final five working years before retirement are typically the time to get your ducks in a row.

Most people approaching retirement begin to think about maxing their savings in those final years of earning. Many take care of deferred maintenance to the home and some even work on their estate plan. Fewer think about the final duck … their funeral. Planning and funding your funeral during those years is a great time to get it done. Especially if being frugal about this expense is of importance.

Some of the benefits to planning and funding a funeral in advance include:

  • A payment plan set up while you are still working and earning means the funeral will be completely paid for (at today’s cost) before you retire. That means you won’t need to withdraw from investments to cover this cost in your retirement years.
  • Most people are in good health as they wind down their working years.  That means the total cost of the funeral can be covered should something unexpected happen before the payments are complete.
  • Funerals, like most things, tend to inflate in cost over time … it’s not going to get cheaper. You can lock down your cost and be done before you retire.

It’s easy to find out everything you need to know about planning and funding a funeral. Just call the funeral home and ask to speak to the individual who takes care of advance funeral planning. 

Plan early, live long… and have fun during your March Madness and beyond!

Moving After a Spouse Dies?

Published: March 15, 2019

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One of the realities of losing a spouse or a parent is the impact that event has on living arrangements. Are we living in the “right” place? Is the house too big? Is it too far away from family? Will my surviving parent be safe where they live? Should I move to be closer to mom or should mom move closer to me? 

These are tough questions and they come at a time when emotions are running so very high. They also come at a time when income has likely decreased, perhaps requiring a change be made sooner rather than later. Conventional wisdom says wait at least a year before you make any big changes to your living situation, but the reality is waiting a year may not be financially possible. If you are able to slow down and let the dust settle a bit, that is no small blessing.   

Really, it all boils down to three considerations: happiness, safety, and finances. The surviving spouse needs to be in a place that not only works financially, but also is safe and happy. You are going to need to use both your rational mind and your emotions if you are to make the best decision.   

On the face of it, the financial consideration seems to be the trump card.  After all, you have to be able to afford where you live. However, it is not always that simple.  When the happiest place is affordable but not the most frugal choice, then maybe happy trumps financially smart? Decisions based on both emotion and rational thought are usually the best decisions.  

That emotional happiness factor also impacts the safety issue. Perhaps the safest living arrangement isn’t going to be a happy situation?  In that case, put your rational mind to work on finding a way to make the happy place safer.   

You have to find the best fit answer for your family. As you are weighing those three considerations, resist the temptation to base the decision on what you think may happen or will happen down the road. Consider the wisdom of making decisions in the present, based on present circumstances. So, if dad is safe, happy and can afford to stay in his present home maybe no change is necessary … for now.

Preserving the Family Relationship While Planning a Funeral

Published: March 8, 2019

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You are with someone with whom you share some history. Maybe it’s a brother, sister, or a childhood friend. You are talking about an event from the “old days” and you suddenly realize you all remember the event a little differently. Most of us have had this experience. Our relationships work in a similar fashion. The way we love, like the way we remember, is unique to each of us.

A man’s children know him as Dad. Each child knows and loves a slightly different Dad. His wife knows and loves him in yet a different way. A wife may know fears, strengths, hopes, and dreams children never saw. They all love, but in such different ways. Though not a bad thing, it can add to the stress a family experiences during a death and subsequence funeral planning.

So how do you preserve your family relationship and plan a funeral that provides comfort for each family member?

 

  1. Establish a common goal. For example: “We want a funeral that reflects Mom’s life, her love for us and our love for her.”  
  2. Understand someone has the final say. This is usually the person who is financially and legally responsible. 
  3. Agree to listen to each other. REALLY listen with purpose. Listen to understand a point of view, not with the singular intent of getting to the good part where you get to say what you want. 
  4. Seek input from a variety of close family members or friends. Don’t forget the little ones. Ask them about grandma. What did they love to do with her? Do they have a special memory or story? 
  5. Let go. Realize everything is not going to be as you would choose. Give a little or maybe even a lot.  
  6. Ask for a time out when you need it. Your first reaction to someone’s idea may be tempered with a little time and thought. 
  7. Use your questions: Tell me more about that? Why is ______ important to you? 
  8. Take the advice of Stephen Covey from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand and then be understood.” 

Emotions are raw when families are mourning a death. Tread lightly and be kind.  Remember you may want to have Thanksgiving dinner with these people in a few months! 

Why Plan Your Funeral in Advance?

Published: March 1, 2019

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The story below illustrates the benefits of preplanning your funeral. Also known as an “advance funeral plan”, “preneed”, or a “preplanned funeral”, it is one of the few things in life where you can pay today’s prices for a product and service you may not need for many years down the road, thus saving you money.

We buried my dad last week. My dad’s funeral would have been just a little more $8,000 not counting the luncheon or cemetery space. However, thanks to his pre-need funeral plan that he prepared 18 years ago at the funeral home, we got it for $5,000 and some change. Saving money wasn’t necessarily what motivated him to make the plan in advance. But, let me tell you, my mom was pretty pleased to know she didn't have to write that check. 

Now, I should clarify something here. My mom is more than okay financially. Paying, even the full $8,000, for the funeral would not have been a financial issue. It was an emotional thing. She knew the death of my dad was going to change her life. She just didn’t know how it would change. So, everything, every action and especially spending money, increased her anxiety. We didn’t need that. Thank you, dad, for taking care of the plan and its cost well before it was needed.  

What motivated my father to pre-plan was the fact we are a blended family. It’s not the we don’t all get along, we do (most of the time). But, we don’t all have the same taste. My sister, his oldest daughter, likes the earth tones. Our mom, his wife, on the other hand, likes the jewel tones. My dad picked a black casket and even said he wanted to be buried in his navy suit. Seems like small stuff, but it probably saved us all some angst. There was no fuss, no brown suit and no hurt feelings. 

If my dad would have asked us 18 years ago if he should pre-plan and pre-pay for his funeral, I feel certain all five of us would have said, “Don’t worry about that. We can take care of it when we have to.” I am so grateful that he did not ask and that he did not think just about the money portion of an advance funeral plan. Dad, thank you for being smarter than us and knowing that we would need your emotional support even in death. 

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