PREPARING FOR DEATH

The thoughtful and caring person will want in every way possible to lighten the burden which will be faced by the family in the event of death.

It is true that many people, having considered this question, put it out of their mind without ever reaching any conclusion or taking any action because of either a fear of being considered morbid or because they lack the knowledge of what to do. In a matter as delicate and emotive as one's own funeral service, it is perhaps not too difficult to understand these mixed emotions in someone who is not altogether certain of the right thing to do. It is strongly suggested that should anyone find themselves in this dilemma to consider the following alternatives:-

1. Make a Will. Making a will is a wise precaution, not a death warrant. Quite apart from the funeral requirements, any person of legal age, married or single, should consider making a will. Any solicitor or public trustee is available to advise in this regard. Once made it is advisable to review the contents periodically to ensure that it is kept up to date regarding changed circumstances and requirements. In the area of funeral requirements all following requests can be part of the will document:-

1. choice of funeral director;

2. church or religious affiliation;

3. wishes as to burial or cremation;

4. the venue for the funeral service;

5. details of cemetery plots, family owned or yet to be purchased;

6. memorial instructions and niche for cremated ashes.

Your will should be kept in a safe place which should be made known to your next of kin or legal representative. Your will is a very important document and should be treated as such. It is very good advice t keep your will in the safe keeping of your solicitor or with the bank, together with any other important documents you may have such as house deeds, etc.

For further and more detailed advice consult your solicitor or the Public Trustee of NSW.

1. Pre-arrange your funeral. Government action in 1979 closed down many funds which were found lacking in safeguards. Following upon a considerable number of requests from the general public, the Government realised that the community required some means by which provision could be made in advance for funeral costs yet to be incurred in the future. For this purpose legislation was specifically passed and under the Funeral Fund Act 1979 it is now permitted for certain groups to be registered as "Funeral Funds" and to address themselves to the public and seek contributions for the purpose of ensuring funeral services at predetermined costs.

Many members of the Funeral Director's Association of New South Wales Limited have either their own specifically registered Fund or participate in a general Scheme registered under the Act to provide just such a service to the public. To be recommended by this Association a "Fund" will need to comply with the following safeguards.

* It must be administered by professional fund specialists.

* It must be registered under the Funeral Funds Act 1979 in New South Wales and comply with Local Government Act 1993.

* The use of a life insurance vehicle for funeral funds is illegal and therefore a fund based on a life insurance policy is not acceptable by this Association.

* Invested monies must be safely invested by managers who have a proven track record preferably in a "Capital Guarantee Fund".

* Funds must be able to be withdrawn at any time by the contributor.

* There must be no hidden costs at the time when the funeral is needed.

* The scheme must not be subject to age and/or health restrictions.

* The fund must be capable of transfer interstate, intrastate and (under certain conditions) overseas.

* The fund must be exempt from the "Income Test" + "Asset Test" + "Capital Gains Test" and "Income Tax".

* The fund must be endorsed by the Association's members.

* The scheme must offer some flexibility in payment by having lump sum and/or Instalment Payment Facilities available.

Details of the Preferred Fund sponsored and approved by the Association may be obtained from the Association's office.