Funeral Planning and the Elder Law Attorney

Damon Wenig, MBA, CFSP
person holding white flowers by casket

Before images of black suits and hallowed organ music conjure up in your head, let’s press pause. Funeral planning doesn’t have to be sad, or even overly sensitive or complex. In fact, more people are opting to have these conversations. Since COVID, the number of individuals planning for their final funeral wishes has dramatically increased. More Americans are talking about their death and funerals than ever before.

Funeral planning is more than just a personal matter. It’s also a legal matter. As an attorney, you are well-versed in safeguarding your clients’ interests, and that includes planning for every eventuality, even the ones we’d rather not think about. By incorporating funeral planning into your services, you’re not only ensuring that your client’s final wishes are legally protected, but you are also providing invaluable peace of mind for their loved ones.

The Attorney’s Role in Funeral Planning

It’s important to note that I’m not advocating you get deep into the weeds of funeral planning. In fact, jumping into the endless options associated with funerals is probably not in your or your client’s best interests. However, nurturing a referral relationship and connecting them with a trusted funeral provider is not only an excellent service but also provides additional business opportunities.

The role of the attorney in helping your client’s funeral plan is flexible. In other words, you can choose how “in the weeds” you feel comfortable.  Some attorneys simply help initiate the conversations, encouraging clients to think about these matters and make the referral. Other attorneys help families create a plan and fund it into a Funeral Expense Trust or Preneed policy which ensures a funeral plan’s financial viability as well as exempting assets if Medicaid qualification is on the horizon. Attorneys can also help draft final disposition directives within estate planning documents, legally safeguarding the client’s final wishes. This is the beauty of adding funeral planning to your practice: you get to pick how involved your practice becomes, all while adding value and meaning to your relationships with clients and funeral professionals in your community.

To learn more about working with a funeral professional, watch a conversation I had with Jim Wolverton, our Director of Education.

Funeral Planning Scenarios

So, let’s break down the types of clients you can assist with funeral planning: crisis and proactive planning cases.

Crisis Planning

In crisis planning scenarios, your client and their family are navigating the maze of Medicaid eligibility with their assets hanging in the balance because their loved one has recently begun living in a long-term care facility. This is where funeral planning swoops in as a beacon of clarity.  This provides an opportunity to set aside money for their funeral expenses through a funeral expense trust or preneed, thereby protecting assets for Medicaid qualification and providing peace of mind. Further, some individuals may also discuss other important topics with the local funeral provider, ensuring more details are taken care of. Not only are the boxes checked for their final wishes, but you’ve helped your client qualify for immediate Medicaid eligibility.

Proactive Planning

You know proactive planning clients well. They understand the importance of steering their own ship, even when the waters get choppy. These clients aren’t in crisis mode, but they know a little foresight goes a long way. Perhaps you are setting up their initial planning documents, or they are looking to retire. By offering funeral pre-planning services, you’re empowering them to take control of their final arrangements, sparing their loved ones from the burden of making tough decisions during an already difficult time.

The Value of Adding Funeral Planning to Your Practice

For the attorney, basic funeral planning is more than just drafting legal documents—it’s about guiding your clients through one of life’s most profound transitions with compassion and expertise. Further, it’s an opportunity to deepen your relationships with clients and other local professionals and provide a level of service that sets you apart from other estate planning and elder law attorneys. Together, we can redefine what it means to provide comprehensive care for our clients, ensuring that their final wishes are honored with dignity and respect.

If you would like to talk about how Krause Financial can help you add funeral planning to your law practice, do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at 866-605-7437.

Damon Wenig, MBA, CFSP
By Damon Wenig, MBA, CFSP | National FET and Preneed Director

Damon develops our funeral product offerings and educates attorneys about the importance of funeral planning as part of a holistic funding journey for individuals in Medicaid crisis planning. He has extensive experience working in the funeral funding space, also having owned and operated his family’s funeral homes.

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