Tuesday, May 5, 2015

9 Things You Need to Know About FUNERAL PLANNING

The Funeral Rule of 1984 was written to protect you.

The Funeral Consumer Guardian Society believes it is in the best interest of families everywhere to be aware of their consumer rights, as stated in this important law. The law was enacted in 1984 to stop funeral homes from persuading people to buy goods and services they did not want or need, and charging them highly marked-up prices on the items they did want.

  • General price list (GPL)—Funeral homes must provide a dated price list before arrangement discussions begin.
  • Telephone price disclosure—A funeral home must give accurate prices regarding their GPL, casket price list or outer burial container price list.
  • Casket price list—Funeral homes are required to show a dated, printed casket price list that also lists alternative containers.
  • Itemized statement of goods and services—Once arrangements are made, a funeral home must provide a statement itemizing each service and product chosen, its separate cost, and the total.
  • Embalming—A funeral home must notify you if embalming isn’t required by law in your state. Also, it may not embalm without prior consent.
  • Casket—A funeral home can’t refuse a casket bought from an outside source or charge a handling fee.
  • Preservation and protective claims—A funeral provider can not tell you that embalming, sealer caskets or sealer burial vaults will preserve the body indefinitely in the grave. Similarly, they cannot claim such features will keep out water or dirt if that is not true.

Funeral costs have been growing much faster than the overall Consumer Price Index.

With no funeral plan to guide them, survivors are almost sure to overspend by hundreds of dollars, or even thousands.
  • There is the emotional upheaval of losing someone close to them.
  • There are pressing time constraints to consider.
  • There are many on-the-spot decisions that have to be made.
  • There is no prior experience regarding what’s needed or not needed.
  • There are the funeral homes and cemeteries and other providers trying to make the highest profit they can.

Shopping for the right funeral home could be the difference between paying $2,000 and $10,000 for the same funeral.

Some of the price ranges we found:   Low   High

Transfer of body to funeral home ........ $150    $400
Basic service fee of staff/overhead ...... $295    $2,000
Embalming       ....................................  $300    $695
Other body preparation  ....................... $100    $395
Morning ceremony at funeral home ..... $250    $695
Evening visitation at funeral home ....... $325    $1,000
Hearse rental (half-day)  .......................$275    $500
Casket     ...............................................$450    $16,000
Burial Vault    ........................................$300    $8,000

Source: Susan Fargo, Chicago Tribune

Life insurance is one of the most efficient and trusted ways to finance final expenses.

  • Benefit goes directly to the beneficiary.
  • There’s no federal tax on insurance benefits in most cases.
  • The proceeds are not tied to any particular funeral industry provider—they can be used anywhere in the world.
  • Insurance benefits avoid the possibility of any probate court tie-up.

Small local funeral homes usually have the lowest prices.

According to a recent report by a national consumer reporting organization, small locally-owned funeral homes will often charge as much as $1300–$2000 less than large independent and nationally-owned funeral homes. Nationwide, here are median prices charged by small local chains:

$1,110 Immediate cremation with minimum casket/container.

$1,384 Immediate burial with minimum casket/container.

$3,099 Standard funeral with alternative casket/container.

$4,067 Standard funeral with 20-gauge steel casket.

$4,670 Standard funeral with solid wood casket, (excluding mahogany/walnut/cherry).

$4,845 Standard funeral with 18-gauge steel casket.

$6,125 Standard funeral with stainless steel casket.

$6,997 Standard funeral with mahogany, walnut, cherry casket.

$7,100 Standard funeral with bronze/copper casket

Shipping remains for burial elsewhere in the U.S. can increase funeral costs by as much as $2,000.

  • People who retire out-of-state, but wish to be buried back home someday, should make sure their funding arrangements will cover this additional cost.
  • Also, if a person dies overseas on vacation or business travel, it can cost as much as $12,000 to have the remains shipped back home for burial.
Source: Assist America, Inc. (AAI)

Insurance benefits often go unclaimed because the beneficiary simply did not know about the policy — or couldn’t find it.

  • The Funeral Consumer Guardian Society can make sure loved ones know about any life insurance policies you may have now, or in the future.
  • Beware of using a safe-deposit box to store your important documents, which can result in time-wasting legal clearance efforts that will have to take place before the box’s contents are made available.

Your funeral funding will give those handling your final arrangements enough money to work with.

  • Add up what you reasonably estimate your funeral will cost some day. Don’t forget cemetery costs, marker costs, flower costs, outer burial container cost... anything else your plan calls for.
  • Subtract what you have in place for your expenses right now.
  • Make up the difference by taking advantage of a sound funding plan.

You will be rewarded for having taken the time to obtain this little booklet published by the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society.

If you are seeking to take control of how your funeral will be conducted, having this helpful information at your disposal may be worth hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in savings toward your funeral costs.

The mission of the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society is to help its members make sure things go smoothly and easily for the people who will be handling their final arrangements for them some day. 

Free Safekeeping of Funeral Instructions: Your instructions will be stored in the Society’s secure computer archives, accessible only to you and people you choose. Make changes whenever you wish.

Free Auxiliary ID Cards for Loved Ones: You will have four auxiliary membership ID cards featuring the Society’s toll-free number. They are for those most likely to handle your final arrangements. 

Free Family Support: Upon notification of your death, the Society will immediately contact the funeral home you select, and inform the funeral director of your final arrangements —with emphasis on staying within your pre-determined budget.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Why you should Pre-plan for Burial Arrangements

Thinking about your own funeral leaves most people feeling a little uneasy, but more adults are finding that preplanning a funeral offers great emotional and even financial security for them and their families.

When preplanning, families find comfort in knowing that the funeral reflects what their loved one wanted. It also gives them peace of mind to not have to make important decisions at a stressful time.

We often hear the phrase “I wish I knew what Mom would have wanted.”... Leaving your burial arrangements to others at the time of death is a recipe for needless stress and strain.

Pre-planning lifts a tremendous emotional burden from surviving loved ones, creating an environment in which to better support each other and celebrate the life of the departed. After you've made those pre-arrangements, you should keep the plan and any pertinent paperwork in a safe place.

Also, inform a close friend or relative what arrangements have been made and where the information may be found (We provide that service for free when you acquire a Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage Program).

You and your family members will have peace of mind knowing that your burial wishes are met, while also ensuring that surviving loved ones will be spared making last minute decisions under pressure, allowing them to grieve appropriately and eliminating any disagreements during an emotionally charged time.

Pre-planning your funeral can be very informal, and as simple as following our pre-planning checklist and sharing your wishes with a family member through the FCGS free membership when you join Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage.

Like it or not, death will visit even those who don't want to be there when it happens. And like it or not, death is  a costly affair. To beat the high cost of dying, more people are starting to consider preplanning and prepaying.

When you pre-arrange, you have control of the decisions relating to your death (the disposition of your body), the funeral or memorial services, what you want your obituary to say about your life, and a reasonable budget which will ease the financial burden for your surviving members.

"If you wait the last minute, it's too stressful" ... "You're at the worst day of your life to make decisions"... But pre-planning is simply making arrangements ahead of time. Preneed means prepaying, and preneed programs are actively sold by mail, by telephone and in homes (the way we do it).

For many, life insurance is a great death-benefit protection for families. When the breadwinner dies, the survivors get the money to help provide for the family. But life insurance can be used for other purposes, including paying for funeral expenses. Most people purchase a life insurance with a small face value specifically to cover funeral costs. Yearly premiums are easier to handle, often in monthly installments with carrying charges built into the cost.

Good, affordable for those with limited means. It also grows at the same rate and there's no need to report it on a 1099 since it's not considered taxable income. If you're confused with all the choices, get help from a good insurance underwriter (like myself) to evaluate your insurance needs.

There are a number of options for financing funerals, and when you pre-plan your funeral, you can take advantage of the best program available for you. Options include pre-need insurance policies, bank or funeral trusts, life insurance, and annuities... But which one's right for you?

Lincoln Heritage and the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society (FCGS) have partnered creating Lincoln Heritage Funeral AdvantageTM to serve the Senior Market at
No extra cost to your policyholders. Funeral Advantage offers the senior consumer:

  • Funeral Planning assistance — provided by FCGS (They can help answer questions about funeral planning)
  • Funeral Funding — provided by Lincoln Heritage (Upon passing, a benefit check can be in the hands of the beneficiary within 24 hours of claim approval, possibly sooner)
  • Consumer Protection — provided by FCGS (Consumer Protection guards loved ones responsible for making funeral purchases)

FCGS helps REAL PEOPLE everyday, and YOU give us the ability to help you as well!... Saving clients over $12 Million during 2013!

FCGS Video

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Final Expense Insurance

With the average funeral cost around $10,000, making final arrangements for a loved one is one of the largest expenses a family will face today. Final expense insurance provides seniors with the peace of mind that when they pass, their loved ones will not be burdened with high funeral expenses or burial expenses.

Final expense insurance for seniors can be a life saver to families whose savings may already be depleted due to nursing home care, long term care, hospital stays or hospice care. Through final expense insurance, seniors can offer financial protection to their families for just pennies on the dollar.

Agents (like myself) working with prestigious companies like Lincoln Heritage help families prepare for the difficult times ahead by assisting them in the selection of final expense insurance for their loved ones. Through proactive final expenses planning with a Symmetry Financial Group, families can rest assured that the high cost of funeral expenses and burial expenses associated with a loved one’s passing will not become a burden down the road.

With aging baby boomers expected to double America’s senior population to 71-million by the year 2030, the current demand for insurance for seniors is steadily increasing, and the need for final expense insurance is on the rise!

Prepare for the future before it's too late and protect your family, contact me today.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mortgage Protection Insurance

Mortgage Protection Insurance

mortgage protection insurance
Explaining it the simplest way, mortgage protection insurance is no more than an insurance policy that will pay the amount the beneficiary selects, up to the remaining balance owed on the home, in the event of your death. This benefit covers the outstanding principle balance owed on the primary mortgage, making payment directly to the lien holder (beneficiary).

For those families in a two-income household or where there is one primary breadwinner, mortgage protection insurance provides the peace-of-mind that in the event of your death, your family will not be held liable for paying a mortgage they may no longer be able to afford.

Mortgage Protection Insurance (MPI) vs. Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP)

While mortgage protection insurance offers an economical benefit for hundreds-of-thousands of families across the U.S., it can prove challenging to sell. This type of insurance is often misunderstood by consumers who confuse it with the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) they pay on their FHA loan. Private Mortgage Protection Insurance (MPI) and the FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) are two completely different types of coverage.

The MIP, or Mortgage Insurance Premium that a consumer pays on a home loan protects the government, not the consumer. In the event of a foreclosure, the government will receive a percentage of the money owed on the home, paid out of the loan’s MIP. The consumer will still have to file for bankruptcy and the family will lose their home.

MPI, or mortgage protection insurance, protects the consumer and their family. If a death results in the family no longer being able to afford mortgage payments, the Mortgage Protection Insurance policy will pay the remaining balance owed on the home, negating the need to file for bankruptcy and allowing the family to keep their home.

Selling mortgage protection insurance requires an agent to be knowledgeable about the misconceptions associated with this product. He or she can act more as an educator and counselor, than a salesperson. 

Symmetry Financial Group has established a proven sales and training system to enable agents to achieve financial rewards and the rewards that come with the sense of helping families acquire mortgage protection insurance.

mortgage protection insurance

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ten Facts About Retirement Savings

Most retirees are ready for free time and less stress in retirement, but some aspects of their retirement can become unexpected. They also have high financial and health concerns, and the extra free time is only fun if you're able to use it well. Below are Ten ways retirement might surprise you.

1- It can be easy to spend all of your savings.
After many years accumulating enough money for you to retire, it can be psychologically and emotionally devastating to spend that money and see how your nest-egg shrink each year due to illness like Long-Term Care.
Investments growing

2- You need to keep investments growing.
Being able of Saving for retirement is not your end goal at all. You also need to develop a plan to make your money last for the rest of your living years. You also need to understand how you can minimize the risk of your investments, you need a strategy that gives you an opportunity to growth without taking any risk staying ahead of inflation and taxes (e.g. Annuities).

3- Most retirees rely on their Social Security only.
Social Security (SS) is mainly the source of income for the vast majority of retirees. About 86% of retired seniors receive income from SS, and their Social Security payments make up at least half of their retirement income of 65% of retirees. The majority of seniors don't have any other source of income than Social Security, and in December 2014 the  monthly average of their paycheck from SS was about $1,282.

4- Medicare just cover part of it.
Medical bills do not go away once you enroll in Medicare. Even though Medicare covers a large amount (80%) of  your medical treatments as a senior, there are other services that are not covered (e.g. routine eye exams, eyeglass, dental care, long term care or hearing aids) just to mention a few. Medicare only covers up to 20 days in a nursing home without you paying anything (for each benefit period), Days 21–100: $157.50 coinsurance per day of each benefit period and Days 101 and beyond all costs are on you.
Medicare coverage
Retirees who require additional long-term care will need to find another way to pay for it, like buying a Long-Term Care Insurance policy from a private Insurance Co.; I really suggest you find a local Insurance Representative before you join Medicare because you really need to comprehend what benefits you will receive from Medicare when it comes to your Health and understand how it will cover any ongoing or post health issues. If you lives in New Jersey you can contact me and can review with you how Medicare works in the state.

5- Chances are you might spend some time by yourself.
With no schedule or job to commute daily, you can find yourself spending a lot of time alone. According to U.S. Census Bureau data about 44% of seniors 65+ live alone. I suggest you join a volunteer organization in your local area that doesn't require you to travel so far from your residence, in other words stay active within your community.

6- Dating is another choice seniors encounter.
Senior retirementEven though 55% of seniors 65+ still married, there are some that are not (28% widowed-12% divorced-1% separated-5% never married) according to census, as a result these seniors start meeting new friends and also dating in some cases. There are several sites online that focus on seniors 50+ that help them meet new people, friends and even dating.

7- Moving can become a nightmare.
It may sound attractive, but the reality is that the majority of seniors do not relocate, between 2009-2013 only 5.7% of seniors 65+ moved to a new house, but the grand majority did within the same state or county, only 1% moved out of the state their live and just 0.3% decided to move outside US (overseas) the census said. Moving to a new community in your retirement means leaving behind friends, family members and a system in place that can be difficult to rebuild elsewhere.

8- Usually help from others is needed.
We all know aging is part of our retirement years in which we might lose some independence and usually is not fun or welcome for every senior. There may come a time when you are not allow to drive your car anymore, shovel your house driveway or a simple task as climbing on a chair to do some DIY around the house and eventually need help with meals and bathing. Although the beginning of retirement is often full of fun and adventures, it’s also a good time to make
contingency plans for later down the road when you might not be able to care for yourself.

9- TV is the main entertainment for seniors.
Seniors spend more than ½ of their in-front of their TV, ages 65-74 watch around 3.92 hrs during the day and the ones 75+ average about 4.15 hrs daily according to the American Time Use Survey conducted by The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

10- There's no need to hurry.
In comparison to the general population, seniors 65-74 take longer eating, working at a DIY project around the house or in the backyard or even shopping. But contrary to young people retirees spend more time reading, relaxing and volunteering.

Happy Retirement

If you live in New Jersey and have any question feel free to contact me....

Friday, February 20, 2015


5 Worst States for Assisted Living Care Bills