Presenting Pre-Need — Part 2

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Okay, so I left you yesterday reading Presenting Pre-Need — Part 1 and teasing you that I would go into more detail with today’s Presenting Pre-Need — Part 2.  Not that you were up waiting all evening for it, but here is Part 2.

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s column and today I am going to try to let you in on how I succinctly explain the value of pre-need accounts to guests at funeral home seminars.  Hopefully, these tips will help you out too.

I begin, as I explained yesterday, by telling consumers that my experience has led me to believe that there are three main items that are the major help in beginning the move from grief to recovery to a new normal life after the death of a loved one. My goal here is to allow them to see the value of ceremony.  In my opinion, that value helps them avoid direct cremation (without ceremony), and I believe, is actually better care for them.   I also tell the consumers that none of these three things costs a great deal of money.  Those items (in my special vernacular) are seeing the deceased,  celebrating the deceased, and placing the deceased.

Those items may sound different to you but here is what I mean.  Seeing the deceased, if possible, can be as easy, in the case of cremation, as spending time at the place of death before the body is removed. If the body is to be casketed then you also have ample time during a visitation.  By celebrating the deceased I mean to have some type of service to celebrate a life that has been lived.  This can be a memorial service without a body present, but the important thing here is that there is a publicly noticed time and place for such.  Finally, I believe in “placing the deceased” – even if cremated- in a grave, columbarium, or somewhere that a remembrance is visible for future times when people may want to pay respects.  I’ve seen too many people regret the decision to scatter ashes to believe that is a great choice.

Secondly, I like to pass on what I believe are the three things every person should know about their eventual demise.  In today’s day and age, they should 1) know if they are going to be be buried full body or cremated, 2) know what cemetery where their ashes or body will be interred, and 3) know how they would pay for the services needed.  I tell people if they have those three things down – and their family knows the answers – they are already 90% done with pre-arrangement.

Next, I like to show the consumers prices for different death care options and tell them having a savings plan for all types of things is smart.  I relay that when I was younger my wife and I saved for a house, then for retirement, when children came along we saved for college expenses, and on and on.  I like to point out here that a great time to discuss a financial plan for funeral services is when they apply for Social Security or Medicare — that brings them in at age 65 at the latest.  At that stage in life most people have adequate assets to be able to put into funeral plans – especially in single premium plans which I advocated.

After answering some questions, I would end the seminar by telling people to discuss those three things each person should know and we would be contacting them to discuss their thoughts about placing some of their savings into designated funeral accounts.  I found that one of the keys was this thought process that allowed the consumer to think of the process as a “shift in their already established savings instruments” rather than a “purchase of goods and services”.

I always found the thought process of a “shift in savings” as very important.  For instance, for that couple with $100,000 in mutual funds that puts $10,000 per individual into a pre-arrangement insurance plan, we want them to continue to know that they still have $100,000 in assets.  Only now that money has shifted to $80,000 in mutual funds and $20,000 of pre-paid protection in insurance savings for a total savings of $100,000.  I have found that “psychologically” by vocalizing it in those terms, consumers are more comfortable with the thought.

So, today’s article got a little lengthier than I would have liked but I hope I was able to impart one of the reasons I believe that I have been successful in converting so many pre-need seminar attendees into well prepared, death care consumer advocates.

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