Search Articles

Find Attorneys

Death for Beginners: Your No-Nonsense, Money-Saving Guide to Planning for the Inevitable

  • August 31st, 2021

Karen Jones. Death for Beginners: Your No-Nonsense, Money-Saving Guide to Planning for the Inevitable . Linden Publishing. Fresno, CA. 2010. 244 pages.

$13.46 from Amazon (click to order)

Local Elder Law Attorneys in Your City

Elder Law Attorney

Firm Name
City, State

Elder Law Attorney

Firm Name
City, State

Elder Law Attorney

Firm Name
City, State

This is the one "how-to" book that no one wants to believe they'll need -- but if the past is any guide, it covers a topic that all of us will encounter eventually. Burial or cremation? Funeral or memorial service? Organ donation or body farm? The choices are numerous and without some guidance and advance planning, our loved ones may be consumed with anxiety about what to do, and in the rush to take care of myriad details they may end up spending far more on our demise than necessary.

In Death for Beginners, author Karen Jones takes we the living through all the options involved in exiting this mortal coil, presenting the costs, the pros and cons, and crucial "how to" information. And in doing so Jones accomplishes the seemingly impossible -- she has written a book about death that's actually fun to read. Her breezy, conversational style is peppered with humorous asides (in the section on organ donation she laments that fat cells can't yet be donated), and she gives readers frequent breaks from the morbid subject at hand by presenting strange facts and oddities, such as the brutally honest 2008 obituary for one Dolores Aguilar.

Topics covered include the many different ways to dispose of the body, choosing a funeral home, planning a memorial service, composing an obituary, writing a will and dealing with grief. Along the way Jones provides ample information for holding one's own against the funeral industry and addresses important questions we perhaps never knew we had. Is embalming necessary? Which is more "green": cremation or green burial? Can one take cremated remains on an airplane? Readers learn that Costco sells caskets (now starting at $949.99), that one person can save or enhance up to 60 lives through organ and tissue donation, and that cell phone addicts can order a wooden coffin in the shape of a Nokia phone that was hand-sculpted by the famous Ga coffin carpenters of Accra, Ghana. (No word on choice of ring tone.)

The book's appendices include worksheets that, if completed, will make it easy for loved ones to divine anyone's after-death predilections and provide a clear road map for them to follow. An accompanying Web site, DeathforBeginners.com, gives a trove of links and updates, as well as downloadable versions of the book's worksheets.

Paradoxically, reading Death for Beginners and applying its advice may enhance your remaining years, as you'll be secure in the knowledge that you and your loved ones are well prepared when you finally move from Beginner to Expert.


Last Modified: 08/31/2021
Learn the secrets of estate planning from an expert
ADVERTISEMENT
Medicaid 101
What Medicaid Covers

In addition to nursing home care, Medicaid may cover home care and some care in an assisted living facility. Coverage in your state may depend on waivers of federal rules.

READ MORE
How to Qualify for Medicaid

To be eligible for Medicaid long-term care, recipients must have limited incomes and no more than $2,000 (in most states). Special rules apply for the home and other assets.

READ MORE
Medicaid’s Protections for Spouses

Spouses of Medicaid nursing home residents have special protections to keep them from becoming impoverished.

READ MORE
What Medicaid Covers

In addition to nursing home care, Medicaid may cover home care and some care in an assisted living facility. Coverage in your state may depend on waivers of federal rules.

READ MORE
How to Qualify for Medicaid

To be eligible for Medicaid long-term care, recipients must have limited incomes and no more than $2,000 (in most states). Special rules apply for the home and other assets.

READ MORE
Medicaid’s Protections for Spouses

Spouses of Medicaid nursing home residents have special protections to keep them from becoming impoverished.

READ MORE
Medicaid Planning Strategies

Careful planning for potentially devastating long-term care costs can help protect your estate, whether for your spouse or for your children.

READ MORE
Estate Recovery: Can Medicaid Take My House After I’m Gone?

If steps aren't taken to protect the Medicaid recipient's house from the state’s attempts to recover benefits paid, the house may need to be sold.

READ MORE
Help Qualifying and Paying for Medicaid, Or Avoiding Nursing Home Care

There are ways to handle excess income or assets and still qualify for Medicaid long-term care, and programs that deliver care at home rather than in a nursing home.

READ MORE
Are Adult Children Responsible for Their Parents’ Care?

Most states have laws on the books making adult children responsible if their parents can't afford to take care of themselves.

READ MORE
Applying for Medicaid

Applying for Medicaid is a highly technical and complex process, and bad advice can actually make it more difficult to qualify for benefits.

READ MORE
Alternatives to Medicaid

Medicare's coverage of nursing home care is quite limited. For those who can afford it and who can qualify for coverage, long-term care insurance is the best alternative to Medicaid.

READ MORE
ElderLaw 101
Estate Planning

Distinguish the key concepts in estate planning, including the will, the trust, probate, the power of attorney, and how to avoid estate taxes.

READ MORE
Grandchildren

Learn about grandparents’ visitation rights and how to avoid tax and public benefit issues when making gifts to grandchildren.

READ MORE
Guardianship/Conservatorship

Understand when and how a court appoints a guardian or conservator for an adult who becomes incapacitated, and how to avoid guardianship.

READ MORE
Health Care Decisions

We need to plan for the possibility that we will become unable to make our own medical decisions. This may take the form of a health care proxy, a medical directive, a living will, or a combination of these.

READ MORE
Estate Planning

Distinguish the key concepts in estate planning, including the will, the trust, probate, the power of attorney, and how to avoid estate taxes.

READ MORE
Grandchildren

Learn about grandparents’ visitation rights and how to avoid tax and public benefit issues when making gifts to grandchildren.

READ MORE
Guardianship/Conservatorship

Understand when and how a court appoints a guardian or conservator for an adult who becomes incapacitated, and how to avoid guardianship.

READ MORE
Health Care Decisions

We need to plan for the possibility that we will become unable to make our own medical decisions. This may take the form of a health care proxy, a medical directive, a living will, or a combination of these.

READ MORE
Long-Term Care Insurance

Understand the ins and outs of insurance to cover the high cost of nursing home care, including when to buy it, how much to buy, and which spouse should get the coverage.

READ MORE
Medicare

Learn who qualifies for Medicare, what the program covers, all about Medicare Advantage, and how to supplement Medicare’s coverage.

READ MORE
Retirement Planning

We explain the five phases of retirement planning, the difference between a 401(k) and an IRA, types of investments, asset diversification, the required minimum distribution rules, and more.

READ MORE
Senior Living

Find out how to choose a nursing home or assisted living facility, when to fight a discharge, the rights of nursing home residents, all about reverse mortgages, and more.

READ MORE
Social Security

Get a solid grounding in Social Security, including who is eligible, how to apply, spousal benefits, the taxation of benefits, how work affects payments, and SSDI and SSI.

READ MORE
Special Needs Planning

Learn how a special needs trust can preserve assets for a person with disabilities without jeopardizing Medicaid and SSI, and how to plan for when caregivers are gone.

READ MORE
Veterans Benefits

Explore benefits for older veterans, including the VA’s disability pension benefit, aid and attendance, and long-term care coverage for veterans and surviving spouses.

READ MORE