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The Money Matters of Death

By Camille Ramdial-Cumberbatch

Dealing with death is expensive. This is not something we like to consciously think about as we live our daily lives, but I can tell you it becomes very real when you sit in front of a staff member at the Funeral Home, making funeral arrangements.

Contacting a Funeral Home is one of the first acts you engage in upon hearing about the passing of a loved one. So after hearing the traumatic news of Michael’s passing at San Fernando General Hospital and after informing our family and loved ones, the next order of business was determining which funeral home to use for the arrangements. And so begins the costly interactions to ensure your loved one is treated respectfully, even in death.

I quickly learnt that some of the costs associated with dying include the funeral arrangements (choosing a casket/coffin, flowers, programme, memorial book, music, audio/visual services, venue, and transport rentals, buying an urn etc), the hosting of friends, family, and well-wishers at nightly wake and prayer services until the actual funeral itself. It may also include buying funeral attire, organising tents, chairs, and refreshments before and on the day of the funeral, making travel arrangements locally and internationally for family members to attend the funeral, and other miscellaneous expenses. The services after the funeral like the 40-days service also entail a cost which needs to be considered.

So based on all of the above, I can tell you that you need to budget tens of thousands of dollars, no matter how simple you would like the experience to be. ‘How can I fund these expenses?’ may be a question you are now pondering. Based on my personal recent experience and my background in financial services for close to 36 years, here are a few of my suggestions.

1. Start a Family Indemnity Plan (FIP) with a credit union to the maximum amount that you can afford monthly. Most credit unions now offer this service and have extended this plan to as much as $100,000 per person under your plan. So I suggest if you don’t already have an FIP with your credit union, you should consider opening one right away. If you already have one you should possibly consider increasing the coverage to a minimum of $40,000. This was of great help to me in funding Michael’s funeral and it was also expeditiously handled by my credit union. Once I took in the invoice from the funeral home, with my ID, they immediately processed my claim. I can tell you that subsequent to Michael’s passing, I will be increasing my FIP coverage.

2. If you require more funds than what is available in your FIP, then using personal funds becomes another option. One consideration is if you are the beneficiary of your loved one’s credit union funds, this becomes available to you upon showing the death certificate and your ID. Based on if the credit union approves it, and if there are excess funds after paying off any loans or debts of your loved ones, you can also get access to those funds the same day. Further additional funds may become available to you from the credit union based on their policies and your deceased loved one’s age. I therefore suggest you have a conversation with the credit union, to see what funds may be available to you at this crucial time.

3. The National Insurance Funeral Grant with the National Insurance Board is another source of funding for funeral expenses, once your loved one has paid the required number of contributions. Their website provides the information to help with this process. In my experience, the funeral home very quickly organised multiple copies of the death certificate, and filled out the requisite forms for NIB, which helped expedite getting the grant. I can say it is very easy, so I was able to get the cheque of $7500.00 the day after Michael passed.

In applying the above, God helped me manage my financial responsibilities, by mobilising resources in such a way that I was not burdened. This reinforced to me His Word, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God,” Philippians 4:6.