With cremation on the rise along with burial at sea, I’m often asked the question, “Can I preplan my ash scattering service?” The answer is “Yes” and “No”.
Let’s start with the “No”. Charter boats are not in the burial business and can’t guarantee they’ll be available at the time of need. Captains change locations and often sell their business after spending many years at sea. However, not being able to contract with a vessel shouldn’t impede your ability to preplan your burial at sea. That said, I council my clients to leave very clear instructions with their next of kin or executor of the estate. This can include the port of departure and even a time of day such as sunrise or sunset.
The follow up question to the above is, “Can I prepay for a funeral at sea?” While you can’t prepay for a burial at sea, you can set funds aside to cover the future costs. Today there are so many insurance policies with a broad range of benefits. One such policy is referred to as Burial Insurance which can name a family member or executor as the beneficiary. The advantage of an insurance policy over a standard savings account is that the funds are immediately made available, while a savings account might need to go to probate, often taking months before the proceeds are available.
Life insurance products today are varied to meet many needs and budgets, but the basic policies are Term and Permanent Life Insurance. Term insurance as the name implies is for a specific time period versus permanent (also known as Whole Life Insurance). Term Life premiums are paid as required to keep the policy in force. This is often the best course to take if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a catastrophic illness.
Permanent or Whole life insurance can a prepare your loved ones for the unexpected. The death benefit can replace loss of income, mortgage costs, educational needs or to leave a legacy for the next generation. Over time, whole life policies build cash value that grows tax-deferred and can be accessed during your lifetime. Whole life insurance policies offer level premiums and life insurance protection for as long as you live.
Note: I'm not an insurance expert or advisor; I'm simply sharing information I've learned over time in the funeral industry. Please consult an insurance professional for information pertinent to your situation.
You can put money aside in a regular savings account, but it may need to go through probate once you die. Again, this can delay the payout requiring your family to cover the costs. You can get money to your survivors faster if you set up a joint account with the person who will be handling your funeral by giving them rights of survivorship. When you die, they become the sole owner of the account and can withdraw money to pay for your funeral. The downside is that they have access to your money while you’re alive, too. This could be a problem if your survivor turns out to be less than trustworthy.
How much money is enough? Well, just to cover the basics of an ash scattering private charter (not including cremation or other services), the cost averages between $750.00 to $1000.00 for a family attended ash scattering private boat charter. Whole Body, a.k.a. Full Body Burials at Sea, can set you back between $10,000.00 and $16,000.00, depending on the port of departure.
Preplanning one’s own funeral arrangements is no longer a taboo topic and the most prevalent reason is to ease the burden on your family. Confusion and disagreements are common occurrences when there isn’t a specific plan left behind. All too often I’ve seen families squabble over the smallest aspects, therefore, the more detailed the plan, the less room for interpretation.
The most inopportune time to plan a funeral, is At Need. If you wouldn’t plan a wedding or other celebration with just a few days notice, why would you allow anything less for your final tribute? To paraphrase Frank Sinatra....You should do it YOUR way.