Friday, February 16, 2018

Peace of Mind

We recently met with our estate attorney to update our trust. We try to do this every few years to be sure everything is current. We discovered several areas we needed to update.

We’ve had our trust for over twenty years. The attorney did a presentation at our church about estate planning, and we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to codify our wishes. I’m glad we did.

At the same time, my mother prepared one of her own. My stepfather had died shortly before, and Mom had a little money for the first—and only time in her life. We knew it wouldn’t last long, but this seemed important to her.

On the day we picked up our paperwork, as we left the office, Mom started to cry. I was afraid she was sad about contemplating her demise. When I asked her about it, she said, “I’m just so happy to have this done. I’ve been worried about it, and now it’s taken care of.”

We had no idea she had been concerned about making sure her wishes were recorded, but her obvious relief made the exercise more than worthwhile.

At the time, we had no idea how important this would be to us. At the same time the trusts were prepared, so were our powers-of-attorney for medical and financial. As Mom grew more and more senile, we had to make many decisions on her behalf. The powers-of-attorney provided for our legal rights as well as hers. We had peace of mind because we knew we were doing what she wanted and had the legal permission to do so.

Another source of comfort for us was having her final wishes designated.

Years ago, one of Larry’s Boy Scout leaders died. His wife shared with us the preparations he’d made. She said he researched all the options and contacted the Los Angeles Funeral Society. When he died, his son called the number on the card he carried in his wallet, and they took care of all of the details.

This happened shortly after the publication of Ruth Harmer’s book, The High Cost of Dying. (Larry had her as his English instructor at Cal Poly, Pomoma.)

The book exposed how mortuaries and funeral homes exploited grieving families by using guilt to convince them to spend more than they needed to.

We decided to contact the Los Angeles Funeral Society. We received several forms where we could designate our preferences (no embalming and immediate cremation among them). For a small lifetime fee, they would keep our records on file and guarantee the lowest prices.

When we moved to Dana Point, we transferred our membership to Tri Counties Funeral Society.

Mom first moved in with us a couple of years later. She had a plot reserved for her next to her ex-husband. After a short time, she announced she’d changed her mind about being buried. “I want to be cremated and have my ashes spread off Dana Point. It’s my favorite place, and I want to be with you.” (Our instructions are to have our ashes spread in the ocean off Dana Point.)

She joined the funeral society and filed her directions. The morning she died, I asked the nursing home if they needed us to come down. “No, we have her direction on file. We’ve already called he mortuary. You can come later in the day to pick up her personal effects.”

A couple of weeks later, the mortuary called us to collect her ashes. While we were there, we prepaid for our own services. Now our daughter won’t have to make any decisions on our behalf, and everything will be pre-paid.

No one wants to contemplate making these kinds of decisions, but I can assure you, the peace of mind having these directions taken care of ahead of time while we were not under pressure made taking care of my mother’s death much easier. She had years of her own peace of mind as well.


  1. Thanks Larry & Lorna,
    Finally, at my house, these are the Topics of the Day.
    Mark V.D.

  2. SO sorry you had to deal with some of these issues so early on. Love to all of you!