It’s Your Funeral: Why Not Plan It Properly?

By Roz Jones

Making plans for the future brings mixed feelings. It is right to concentrate on the good things, but sometimes there are things you would rather not think about. A funeral is one of those things. You may not have considered planning a funeral in advance, but there are several reasons why it can bring great peace of mind.

Bereavement usually brings with it emotional and financial burdens. However, you can spare your loved ones much of the burden of having to make difficult decisions at an upsetting time.

The cost of many funerals has more than doubled in the last 10 years, and prices are set to continue to increase in the future.

If you have savings set aside for your funeral, you can never be sure that there will be enough – or you may be setting aside more than you really need to. It makes good sense to guard against unknown price rises.

A prepaid funeral plan is the way to be absolutely certain that the services of the funeral director will be provided and there will be nothing more to pay for these services.

Bereaved relatives usually arrange a funeral and may be unsure what was actually wanted. It helps to do something at times of sadness, but it is not a good time to make important decisions – which, if wrong, cannot be put right later. Planning ahead for your funeral can be a great help in alleviating the emotional and financial burdens that naturally accompany bereavement and those who remain will remember your thoughtfulness.

There is also some quiet satisfaction to be gained from putting your affairs in order and reflecting on the most appropriate arrangements. People worry that their wishes will not be carried out. It is important to realize that any funeral wishes set out in your Will or other letters or documents are only requests. Your executors are under no obligation to carry out your wishes. However, if you own a prepaid funeral plan, your guarantee is with a funeral director and your wishes are set out in your guarantee certificate.

When you pre-arrange your funeral with your pre-paid funeral plan you can: 

  • Decide on your funeral service and select a suitable arrangement 
  • Settle on a method of payment to match your circumstances 
  • Select who benefits under the plan
  • Have comfort, reassurance and freedom from worry and stress  
  • Ensure no hidden extras are charged 

Why not give it some thought? Funerals are a touchy subject, but avoiding the issue won’t help you or your loved ones deal with bereavement.

How to Spot Elder Abuse

By Roz Jones

Elder abuse is described by the following acts among family and members of the household, any nursing home staff or any individual. 

– When somebody attempts or causes physical injury to an elder

– When the family member or staff of a nursing home try to or is trying to place an elder in terror or alarm of physical harm by torment, threat or harassment

– When one is convincing or persuading an elder by strength or intimidation to participate in a certain act from which the elder has the right to withhold

– When one meaningfully confines the movements of an elder without his consent

– Threatening the elder to a crime of violence

1. Detecting Abuse: 

– Burn markings from cigarette

– Black eye, lacerations, bruises or cuts that can not be explained

– Rope marks, a sign that the elder had been tied or slashed upon

– Hair loss, a sign that the elder’s hair was pulled

– Bodily sores and wounds

– Fingernails that are broken

– The elder’s skin is very poor condition

– Fractures of the bone

– Bite marks

– Eye glasses are broken

– Laboratory results are positive of drug overdose

– The elder displays a sudden change of behavior

– The care giver refuses to allow visitors to see the elder

2. Signs Of Neglect: 

– Sores are untreated

– Displays significant signs of malnutrition

– May show signs of insanity

– Lack of personal hygiene care

3. Signs Of Emotional Abuse: 

– May display a nervous behavior

– Constantly be disturbed or upset

– Displays a negative attitude

– Always in anxiety

– Demonstrate signs of insecurity, such as constant sucking or biting of the fingers

4. Financial Abuse: 

– Unknown withdrawal from the elder’s account

– Unusual ATM withdrawals and switching of accounts

– The elder tend to withdraw money often

– The elder does not receive his pension or Social Security check from the mail

– The elder, without any valid reason, revises his will and changes his beneficiary

– The elder unexplainably signs contracts that results to unwanted financial commitment

– Signature was forged

– The elder has plenty of unpaid bill, despite his assets that can very well cover the bill

– Strange credit card charges

5. Signs Of Sexual Abuse

– Mysterious and unexplained genital infection

– Anal or vaginal bleeding that can not be explained

– Ripped underwear

– The elder may tell someone that she has been sexually abused

– Genitals are bruised

– The elder may report that her care giver is showing her pornographic materials

– The report of the elder that she is forced to touch someone’s genitals, observe sexual acts, tell dirty stories and pose nude for a picture

6. How Can You Prevent Abuse To Yourself As An Elder?

– Keep and continue contacts with friends and neighbors

– Work out on a buddy system with other elders in the home

– Be active socially, do not be in isolation

– Protest and speak up if you are not happy or contented with the way your caregiver or other family member treats you. Tell somebody

– Request your friends and other relatives to visit you often

– Open your mail personally

– Never sign anything unless it was reviewed by someone that you trust

– Always review your will once in a while

– Coordinate so that your pension or Social Security check be deposited directly to your bank account than being sent by mail

7. How Can You Prevent Abuse To Others?

– Pay attention. Be wary and look out for signals that might point towards abuse

– Call your loved one as frequently as possible

– Visit your loved one often and make certain that she is well taken cared of

– Always be open to your loved one, taking the time to always talk to her and assure her that you are there to help and can be trusted

– Get permission to periodically look into your loved one’s bank accounts as well as credit card statements for unauthorized withdrawals or transactions

8. How To Get Help If You Or Someone You Know Is Suffering Abuse:

911 or your local police emergency number or your local hospital emergency room

National Center on Elder Abuse

Washington, DC 20005

(202) 898-2586

Fax: (202) 898-2583

Area Agency on Aging

Almost all States have information as well as a referral line that can be useful and helpful in locating and finding services for elder abuse and neglect victims.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

The hotline provides support counseling for victims of domestic violence and provides links to 2,500 local support services for abused women. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

1-800-799-SAFE

TDD 1-800-787-3224

Using Investments to Augment Income and Medical Care Expenses

There are lots of ways to save for the future. From a simple savings account to a retirement fund, there are benefits and disadvantages for every plan. The best scenario is a diversified plan that covers a wide range of savings options. 

Investments are a savings strategy that can grow income that augments your retirement income and helps pay for out of pocket medical expenses. As we age, the bigger issues become health related. Having adequate coverage for a wide range of possibilities is valuable. We never know what sort of medical and other expenses we may have but some include:

  • Long-term hospital stays
  • Medication and ancillary equipment needs
  • Out of home placement
  • Estate management 
  • And more 

Making investments can help grow income passively while you earn income throughout your career. Once you retire, your sources of income work in conjunction with one another to preserve your standard of living. 

If you have medical coverage in place after retirement, there may still be out of pocket expenses. Leveraging investment income can help offset those costs and may have fewer penalties than accessing other sources of income. Your financial planner can help you evaluate the best investment plan for your budget. 

If you start investing in your younger years, you have a great chance of growing your income with simple and consistent investments. If you are starting later, no worries you can still grow your income and use strategies to make up for lost time. Either way, investing will help you generate income that supports your needs later in life. 

Here are some simple investment ideas for your consideration: 

  • Invest in the stock market
  • Invest in commercial property
  • Invest in tax-deferred plans
  • Invest in insurance products

Some investments can be liquidated faster than others when you need income. Others have penalties depending on when and how much income you collect. Your financial planner can help you diversify your investments so you have an assortment of options to grow your money and collect it when you need it. 

Investments are one of many tools you can use to secure your income for the future and plan for your end-of-life needs. Making small, simple investments over time will render big and important rewards when you need them most. These investments become assets that add to your estate and become part of your legacy from a life well lived. 

Parents and Divorce: Protecting Your Kids in Case You Die

Protecting your children after your death is vital. Generally, if one parent dies, the other assumes full legal and physical custody without any issues. If both parents perish, a will can determine custody. What happens when a divorced parent passes away? 

Divorce can be messy. Not everyone has an amicable co-parenting situation. Sometimes divorced parents don’t share custody of children equally for safety reasons. Sometimes an absent parent is unable or unwilling to parent effectively. Sometimes an absent parent does not have the proper home or income to be a full time custodian. 

In the cases where an absent parent is not the ideal primary care giver, it may make sense to create documentation to legally support your custody wishes. It may also make sense to put fiscal parameters in place to support your children financially no matter who has physical custody. 

If you can’t support the idea of an ex having primary custody for valid reasons – not simply due to disliking them – you can make a guardian recommendation in your last will and testament. Be sure to list and provide evidence why you are naming the guardian and make sure your will is notarized and that the guardian has their own copy. If your decision is contested, your child may be appointed an attorney to represent them in a custody hearing. 

Often times a grandparent will be named as successor guardian. It is important to know that while grandparents are vital for the development and support of a child, there are no built-in grandparent rights. It is important that you take steps to name the people you desire to have access to your children in the event of your death and advocate for their relationship via your will. This will carry great weight with the court. 


You may also safeguard your assets and financial support for your children by naming a guardian or fiscal payee other than your ex-spouse to manage funds and make financial decisions on your behalf. Your attorney or financial planner will have information about how to set up a trust or other fiduciary protection. 

If you are divorced and do not have a positive relationship with your ex, it is important to safeguard your wishes and protect your child if you die. Take steps to secure their custody and financial stability so you can rest easy knowing they are well cared for.  

Protecting Dignity and Values During an Accident or Illness

Having a debilitating illness or injury can be devastating. Not only is your health fractured, your dignity can be in jeopardy too. Being sick subjects us to medical procedures that leave us feeling exposed physically and mentally. It can be hard to feel secure and in control of our person when we are being put through the medical gauntlet. 

Likewise, supporting someone who is going through tough medical issues can feel uncomfortable. Being exposed literally and figuratively to procedures and losing independence can be isolating and disrupting. Being able to protect dignity and values during an accident or illness is an important part of the process. 

Medical providers and first responders see people every day who are at their worst. They are providing care to people who are injured, sick, and sometimes dying. It can take a toll on them and they tend to compartmentalize their feelings so they can do tough work without showing emotion. This can adversely affect patients who often times feel like they don’t matter outside of being a body that needs medical attention. 

Sometimes the practical side of medicine collides with the intimate side of dignity. Finding the balance is important. Here are some reminders to help maintain dignity and keep your values when you are sick or have an accident. 

Remember: Communicate- You are in the driver’s seat of your care. Communicate your beliefs, preferences, and boundaries if you feel your dignity is being affected. Though some procedures and side affects of an illness may be undignified, you can manage to protect what little dignity is available. 

Remember: Advocate- If you are someone supporting someone else with an illness or injury, you can advocate for their dignity. Lead by example and make sure their feelings, values, and person are respected and protected under every circumstance. 

Remember: The golden rule- Being nice generally brings about compassion in others. Even if you are gravely ill or chronically sick you can control how you treat others. Being kind to medical providers and those supporting you will encourage them to be kind right back.


Having an accident or illness can render people helpless and put them in tough situations. It’s important to preserve dignity and hold to values even under these circumstances. There are simple things you can do to protect your dignity and that of those you love.