People planning their own funerals has become quite a trend. There’s a feeling that the burden of grief on your nearest and dearest when you pass away is more than enough for them to cope with. Having to organise a funeral is something they could do without.
But what about taking things to the next logical step and buying your own memorial stone before you die? In many ways, this is actually a more sensible idea than pre-planning a funeral. While you might be able to write an order of service for yourself and pay for a funeral director’s services, what you can’t do in life is book a venue for a wake and send out invitations. There’s still plenty for your loved ones to do.
Pre-ordering a memorial stone, on the other hand, is far more straightforward. You can commission a headstone or plaque at any time, and it can either be made in advance and kept in storage, or you can arrange for the mason to make it when they get notification from your relatives.
So, what are the benefits?
Ease the financial burden on your relatives
Memorial stones don’t come cheap. Many people worry that the cost of a funeral alone will put their family under duress - a key reason why they choose to pay for a funeral service themselves in advance. Throw in a headstone or memorial plaque, and expenses do start to mount up.
If you have expressed your wish to be buried, or you’d like a commemorative plaque to be put up at a crematorium or some other special place, you may feel it’s your responsibility to help out to see that your wishes can be fulfilled. Paying for your own memorial stone, whether commissioning it yourself or leaving funds for the purpose, is certainly one way you can make sure your family is not left in a difficult predicament.
Get the memorial you really want
Another key reason why you might choose to buy your own memorial is to ensure you get something to your tastes. Some people might argue that, once you’re gone, you’re no longer in a position for such things to bother you. But for others, the idea of having a legacy they approve of is important. In fact, to some people, just knowing what kind of memorial will be left in their name is enough to inspire them to commission their own.
It might be that you have a very specific type of design in mind. It might be that you are very taken with a particular material - a rare coloured marble or granite, perhaps. It might be that you have strong feelings, one way or the other, about religious symbolism. Or you could really want your name to be associated in perpetuity with a favourite poem or quotation which you would like engraved on your memorial. All of these are good reasons to set out to get the monument you would like.
Choose the right place for your memorial
There are stories of grief-stricken family members facing the frustration and indignity of having memorials they have already paid for refused by the cemetery where their loved one is interred. There are no definitive rules and regulations for what you can and cannot have on a gravestone, it depends on each individual location. Suffice to say, some places are more conservative than others. If you have your heart set on being buried in your local churchyard, but also have an unusual idea in mind for a memorial stone, then it is worth you taking the initiative and finding out what is and isn’t allowed. If you really have your heart set on a particular monument or inscription, then it might be necessary to seek an alternative option for where it could be located.
Kenward & Son is a family-run firm of monumental & architectural stone masons based in West London. To find out more, visit our site here.
You might think that the only way to access the capital in your home is to move. This isn’t the case. Another option you could explore is equity release. With equity release, you can free up capital in your property without selling.
What Is Equity?
Equity is the amount of money your home is worth minus the mortgage that is left to pay. So, if you have a home that has a market value of £300,000 and you still have £50,000 left to pay on your mortgage, your equity would be £250,000. You could also have a secured loan on the home which would reduce your level of equity further.
There is a range of different plans that will ensure you can release cash. You can either take out a loan that is secured against your property. Or, you can sell part of your home. Regardless of which plan you choose, you will be able to continue to live in your home up until you pass away or move into permanent care.
How Is The Cash Provided To You?
The cash from equity release can be provided as either a lump sum or through instalments. The option you choose here will depend on your individual needs. Crucially, there are no set rules on how you spend this cash. For instance, you could use it to make renovations on the property. Or, you might want to use it for a holiday. The choice is entirely up to you.
However, you will need to use it to pay off an existing mortgage first. Once you have done this, you can spend the rest however you want and the sum is tax-free.
How Much Equity Can You Release?
You will usually be able to release between 20 and 50% of the equity on your home. However, the exact amount will depend on both your personal circumstances and your age. Use this equity release calculator from Lending Expert to get an exact quote.
There are two different types of equity release plans:
Lifetime mortgage - With this option, you can borrow some of the home’s value with a capped or fixed interest rate. Since no repayments are made, the money that you owe increases all the time. However, some drawdown versions will allow you to pay back the interest, thus reducing the cost.
Home Reversion Plan - This provides a tax-free lump for a percentage of the home below market value. You will be able to continue to live in the home rent-free. When it is sold, the proceeds split based on how much the lender now owns and you own. If the property rises in value, the amount the lender gets also rises.
How Much Does Equity Release Cost?
Lifetime mortgage equity releases are usually around 5%. There are also arrangement fees which may be between £15000 and £3000. This will depend on your individual plan. Other fees including legal work and application costs.
We hope this helps you understand what equity release is and how it could benefit you. Remember to explore a range of different plans on the market before committing to a company providing this option.
If done right, passive income can match or even surpass your pre-retirement income. Like a seed planted at the right time, passive income only requires a small amount of concentrated work to get you a big return.
If you’re retired or soon to be retired, here are the best 5 ways to develop passive income so you can keep a high standard of living well through your golden years.
#1: Loan Money Via Peer-to-Peer Lending
Yes, the idea with passive income is to make money and not give it away, but when you loan money through peer-to-peer lending, you get a return on your investment the same as banks do.
People who take out money through peer-to-peer lenders are usually turned away from banks because they don’t qualify (meaning they have no to low credit). They need independent lenders to get their project off the ground.
The returns usually aren’t huge (say around 5%), but it’s still an easy way to make a few bucks.
#2: Rent Out Space in Your Home
Though the thought of renting out a spare room in your house or the second floor of your finished garage may put you on your back foot, renting is an excellent way to make easy money.
You have two options when it comes to renting: Long term versus short term renting.
Long Term Renting
Long term renting is more hands-on at first. Initial work solely revolves around getting the space ready. You’ll want to paint the walls if they’re looking faded, and may even want to consider furnishing it. To advertise it, you will have to post the space online at a site such as Craigslist or through your local newspaper. Because it’s a long-term situation, you will definitely want to interview the potential tenant to make sure you two are a good fit with one another.
If it sounds like a lot of work at first, it is, but after you’re through it’s easy money month to month.
Short Term Renting
Short term rentals take just as much staging in the beginning, but you don’t have to do any background checks. And when we say short term, we mean it: only one night to a few weeks. To find tenants for short term rentals, the best route is to use sites such as Airbnb, VRBO, or FlipKey. These sites do all of the background checks for you, and each time a guest stays at someone else’s house, that owner leaves him or her a review. So if you don’t like what you see, you can simply hit decline when they request to stay with you.
Short term rentals require small amounts of work each time someone stays with you. This means you’ll need to clean up after them by sweeping the floors, wiping the counters, taking out the trash and changing the linens.
#3 Invest in a Turnkey Rental
Turnkey properties are sold ready to rent, so nothing has to be done to them to make them move-in ready. The only things you need to do are purchase the property and find a management company.
Management companies take care of maintenance and tenant placement so that you don’t have to do anything. Just know that every service they provide comes with a fee, which will eat into your monthly ROI. Because of this, do your research, read reviews of past users (at sites such as Bigger Pockets) and go over the fine print to find the best management company that has your best interests in mind.
#4 Purchase Dividend Stock
Dividend income comes from stocks you have purchased. It’s money that is deposited straight to your bank account every quarter because you are a shareholder of the stock.
With any type of stock purchase, you’ll want to do your research. You don’t want stocks that may only perform well for the next couple of years. You want stocks with reliable and consistent stock so that you can rely on money for years and years.
Though dividend-paying stocks require an up-front investment, they can provide consistent cash-flow.
#5: Purchase an Existing Business
When purchasing a business these days, you have two options: purchase an existing brick-and-mortar business or an online business. Before you do either, you definitely want to sit down and have a hard look at the financials with a certified accountant.
As with all passive income options, you want to purchase a business that will give you passive income that is easy and reliable. Strong brick-and-mortar options are laundromats, gas stations, and fast-food restaurants. Though they don’t sound like million-dollar ideas, they’re businesses that, no matter what time of year, are busy every day of the week.
Online businesses, on the other hand, can be very diverse, so you’ll want to take your time to choose the best one. There are literally thousands of options to choose from. You can buy online businesses at places like Biz Buy Sell or Exchange. The businesses are usually sold by people who are simply looking to move on.
Obviously, when you buy a business, that business is going to take day-to-day care and handling. Though it will eat into your monthly cash flow, you’ll want to find someone to manage it for you if it requires a lot of up-keep. No matter which option you choose to go with, brick-and-mortar versus online, you’ll need to understand the market and the daily/ monthly requirements first before you buy. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as simply writing a check and watching the money come in!
Invest in What Excites You the Most
Even though the idea is to keep a distance from your passive income projects, you’ll have more success if you choose something that energizes your brain. And for real success, don’t simply rely on one course of action. You’ll want to have multiple passive income streams if you truly want to be financially free.
Luke is a writer and editor based out of Los Angeles. He specializes in finance, as well as health and wellness. In his free time, he enjoys watching Astros baseball. You can find him on LinkedIn.