Funeral Industry Outlook 2017

As much as people hate to talk about this topic being denial or simply  “Pantang” what will happen to the funeral industry in Singapore will change the whole landscape in terms of services, cost and perspective of things. Here are 3 main reasons why.

1. Concerns of a slower economy and uncertainly of a recession

Banks are already pulling back on Fixed Deposit Rates and Home loans. Meaning to say they foresee something many people do not. Bank of China gave one of the best payouts in terms of Fixed Deposit in 2016. Between 1.7 to 1.9% for a year and in 2017, they have announced their rate is between 1.2 to 1.3% for a year that is more than 0.6% drop. How much is it lets put it this way. In 2016 you put $100,000 and kept it for 1 year, you get a $1900 but in 2017 u only get $1200. That’s a drop of $700. What can you do with $700? A lot of things. As for me, I can pay for my 4 kids one month school fees. Banks need to protect themselves as well during a slow-down and crisis.

2. Inflation Again another issue that cannot be avoided.

Experts have forecast that by 2017 inflation rate will be about 1% and by 2020, it will be around 2.8%. Inflation can only mean 1 thing. Raise in prices. My clients ask me so how much does 1 funeral service cost which includes, prayers, packages, niches and other consumables. As of now, it will cost around $10k to $20k and above depending on what you need. However by the end of the year 2017, it will cost around $100 and above more.

3. Big Brother Mentality

Due to the very competitive business of the funeral industry, standards will be raised in 2017. Huge players are coming up with better service standards as a result, small players have to follow suit if they want to keep up if they want to keep up with their business or they will lose more business or even risk closing down. So now the question is how can i help and is there a way out? YES! There is a way out. I am able to help you reduce your funeral cost. Its call pre-planning. How can pre-planning help is very simple. Its called pay today’s price, and so you do not have to worry about tomorrow, the next day or even the cost in 2020.

Call me at 98668642 to find out more. Your Choice today, Your Legacy tomorrow.download

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What happens when…..

Just imagine this.  One day you get a call and the caller is someone in the hospital or someone at your door is a police officer telling you that your loved one has suddenly passed away.  You are need to go to the hospital to claim or identify the remains of your loved one.  What happens when this happen?  You are in shock, you are lost and you do not know what to do, who to call, who to look for.  This happen on a daily basis.  So now the next question is how, what should i do?  Then suddenly out of nowhere an “angel” popping out of nowhere and tell you everything will be settled.   Then when everything is said and done, the bill comes along and you get a shock of your life.  “Why so much?”  “How come so expensive?”  You try to confront the “Angel” now turn “Devil”  but the only answer is you wanted this product and that product.  Its been shown to you.  you agreed on it.  Finally you have no choice but to pay up because you sign the contract.  So here are some tips that will help you to handle your emotions better.

1. Do not entertain such “Angels”.  Take your time to clam down first before deciding on which funeral company to call. Know your budget. Usually hospitals allow you up to 2 hours before either letting the police take over or they will transfer the remains to the fridge so you can take your time to decide whats best for you.

2. Know that there your budget but be prepared that it may exceed at times because you could have forgotten some details and you want to add more to your package.  Always communicate with the funeral director regarding your budget and check if there is a need for extra money to be paid.

3. Different funeral companies have different prices so be sure you get to talk to at least 2 to 3 companies before deciding on what you want.  If you have already decided on what you want but you maybe looking for another option this will be good for you as well.

4. Different companies has different billing system.  Some companies require you to pay the full amount for the package immediately and then bill you again for consumables.  Some companies will require to pay a deposit upfront and the remaining at the end of the funeral and some will get to you pay everything at the end of the funeral so check with the company you want to engage before you decide on what is best for you.

5. Always remain clam and decide.   At times you will face unnecessary feedback from friends, relatives and even family members (very common) the only way is to just remain clam and let the matter rest.  The main focus is to remember and mourn for the deceased in you own way.

 

For more information or you would like to find out more, you can always email us @ lifeplanner33@gmail.com or just call us at 98668642

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding Pre-Planning

planningver the pass couple of weeks, i have been ask many questions regards to pre-planning and is there really a need to do pre-planning.  So i am going to try to answer as many questions as possible to help my readers to have a clearer understanding.  So here is goes.

1. I have insurance to pay for my funeral and distribute to my love ones.

Yes, insurance is the first part of pre-planning however, money will not come in immediately.  Usually it takes between 2 weeks or more for the money to be in. However in cases of sudden death or suspected foul play or even suicidal cases, it could take up to 1 year or more and not all insurance can cover certain illness so i do strongly suggest you check with your insurance agent on the claims for further claifications.  As for Funeral services, some funeral companies expect you to pay 100% upfront or an an amount of 20-50% upfront and the remaining at the end of the funeral.  So if lets say you can claim from insurance 2 weeks later and you do not enough money, it could lead you to certain unnecessary stress.

2. What then is the actually process of planning?

Its actually 4 simple steps.  Insurance, Will & Estate Planning, Funeral Planning and finally where do you want to place your remains either by burial or cremation.  For cremation you have consider either a government columbarium or a private columbarium.

3.  When should i plan?

Anytime as long as you know what are you doing and have a clear mind.   Nothing is predictable.  Never wait for the last min as there will be times when you might miss out a few details.

4. I want to do Funeral Pre-Planning what should i look out for?

2 things you have to take note.  The History of the company and what backing does have the company.   Most importantly everything must be done in writing so as to protect yourself.

5. Is Will Writing and Estate Planning a need and its it very expensive?

I would say its important to do it as its legally bound however, people can still challenge it.  Which is why i highly encourage everyone to have 2 trusted friends or people to be there during the drafting as they will act on the behalf of you when you have pass on.  Usually Will Writing and Estate Planning cost about $250 and above depending on the company / lawyer.

6. If i do not want to Will Writing and Estate Planning then what other options do i have?

Write it down and pass it to 2 people whom you trust the most to act on your behalf.  Never attempt to WhatsApp or text your final wishes to them as it will not be enough to cover them.

7. Whats the need of Pre-Planning?

Its to give you a peace of mind.  I also have an article of Pre-Planning, you are highly encourage to read it as well.

8. What does LifePlanners do then?

At LifePlanners, we have insurance agents, Will & Estate Planners, Funeral Directors / Companies on standby.   Funerals can be expensive and sometimes people feel that Funeral Companies over charge which results in very bad reputation on the companies.  So what LifePlanners do is we sit down with you before or when things happen and we look into your budget and we advice you accordingly.  We understand that things happen very quickly at times and there is no time to react especially when there is a case of sudden death.  We have dealt with such cases as before so just leave everything to us handle and what you need to do is just mourn in your own way.  Death is a process we all have to go through and the whole planning process takes time as well so rest assured we will be with you from the beginning till the end of the process where your loved one has rested properly at their final resting place or when you say so. Finally the golden question everyone like to ask is do does our partners hang around at mortuaries around Singapore or do we tout.  NO!! We do not have so much time to do such things and we are not allowed to as well.  I understand and have heard there is still companies doing such things however, LifePlanners do not and will never do such things.  We take things very seriously as its an offence to do it.  Our partners have been brief as well.

So here are 8 common questions i have been ask over and over again.  If there are any further questions, please feel free to contact me or email me at lifeplanner33@gmail.com or check out my Facebook page at LifePlanners Singapore.

 

 

 

What does it take to be a Funeral Director.

Many a times, my curious friends will ask me this question.  ” So Gabriel, what does it take to be a funeral director?  Is it very tiring to be one and what are the requirements to be one.”

So today, lets sidetrack a little from pre-planning and let me share with you what it takes to be a funeral director.

1. You need to love this job.

As much i hate to say this, being a funeral director needs a lot of compassion and heart.   Its not about how to deal with the dead but how we deal with the people who are alive.  We have to handle their emotions, look at their body language and handle them they best way we can manage.  The dead will never get up and complain the you about the make up being too heavy or the clothes are not straighten well, but the people alive will feedback to you.  Whether the decease will appear in your dreams and feedback to you remains a question to be answered but so far, i have not gotten any sort of feedback from them.

2. You must always plan ahead.

Sometimes when we get busy with funerals and wakes and down with manpower, time management is super important.  As funeral directors, we need to know 2 most important things, because without these 2 important things, it can be very chaotic and result in a lot of horrible screw ups.  The last thing we want is to screw up the timing for a funeral as it can lead to very serious consequences.   The 2 things are, the traffic and the fastest route to either the crematorium or Lim Chu Kang Cemetery.  At times we do get request for a detour from family members to drop by or pass a place where their loved one used to go, work or stay so.  At times we face bad traffic jam and we need to find an alternative route.  Sometimes things or request happen the last minute so we always plan ahead and anticipate on the worst case scenarios.

3. Professionalism 

Over the years,  i seen cases of funeral directors getting involved family issues, arguing with the departed family and friends.  I even seen a particular funeral director feeding unnessary information to family members just to prove to everyone he is extremely knowledgeable. 

One must remember you only have 1 chance to it well and most of time,  our clients are either return clients or through referrals.  We can share our knowledge but only if the family members ask.   Always follow the wishes of family members even if it is not correct unless they ask for your opinion. Do not get involved with their arguements or fights.  Always advice when needed but give them a choice to choose.  
 

So these are basically my choice of requirements to be a funeral director.  I hope you get a clearer understand of what it takes to be funeral director.  What i mention today is really the tip of the iceberg.  There are lots more than just the 3 i mention.  For more enquiries, u can always ask me or any of my fellow funeral directors and we will be most happy to share with u.  Have a great week ahead.  

 

 

Sea Burial. Is it a good idea?

10 Years ago, if someone were to mention about Sea Burial, its mainly for the really poor, destitute or single without any more family members.  Back in the early 2000, Sea Burial was less common as people were not very familiar and educated about it.

Sea Burial somehow become more popular in the late 2000 as more and more people came to find out about sea burial.  As a Funeral Director, i have done many an average of 5 to 6 sea burials in a month.  So now there lies a question of why there is an increase of Sea Burials in recent times.  Here are 3 main reasons why.

1.  I do not want to trouble my family to pay their respects during my death anniversary and special occasions like Qing Min, All Souls day and even Hungry Ghost festival.

2. Its more expensive to put in a  columbarium.

3. My children are living overseas and no one will come and visit me so might as well scatter my ashes into the sea.

So question now is if Sea Burial is the way to go or not?

Many years ago, i told my wife that my wish was that i wanted Sea Burial as i believe that one generation may visit me during special occasions but what about the next generation and after?  She was amendment about it and kept asking me to reconsider until one day while i was out at Sea during a trip, i ask myself what if one day if my grandchildren who do not know who am i wants to pay respects to me and ask my children where is Grandpa, how will my children tell them?  Are they going to bring my grandchildren out to sea and point to nowhere and say “Grandpa is somewhere there.  You can pay your respects now?”  Then i decided to go to my mum and talk to her about my sea burial plan and she scolded me and said.  ” The fishes in the sea will eat you and you will have no more soul.  Do not think about it.  To scatter your ashes into the sea will result in 魂飛魄散 meaning your soul will scatter as well.”  Still not convicted by what she said i decided to turn to my church for more answers and what the church views about Sea Burial and this was what an article wrote  that it is recommended ashes be interred in a columbarium, so that the dead can be remembered and prayed for by the community of which he or she had been a part.  Still not convinced i decided to go through some newspaper articles to find out that even the Taoist also feels that the departed should have proper resting place so that the soul will not be disturb. That was when i was convinced that Sea Burial is not something we should do.

So what then should be the reason to choose a Sea Burial.  Here are 3 reasons.

1. I do not have anyone to see to my final rites ( you are considered a destitute under the eyes of the law)

2. My family is not able to afford to purchase a niche at a columbarium and there is no other way out.

3. I am the last living generation in my family and i really cannot afford any niche at a columbarium.  Meaning to say, you are the only child and you do not have any relatives, children or friends around to see to your rites or pay of your funeral.  ( I strongly recommend pre-planning for such cases.)

Once again, thank you for all your time and have a great weekend again.   Before i end, if there is anyone who has any questions or doubts may call me or pm me at 98668642 to discuss further on this issue.  Your decision today, your legacy tomorrow.  Good day!

 

 

 

People already dead Why need spend so much money for it? Just the service wants to earn more $$

These are the exact words taken out of my survey a few days ago.   So question now is why funeral services need to earn more money.   This comment will not be the only 1 person who gave such a comment, thankfully i have been question many times over and over again so this is the reason why funeral services prices will go up no matter you like or not and again why i emphasis on pre planning.

Currently we have about 60 funeral companies, registered and unregistered in Singapore.  On the ever average funeral companies received about 30-60 cases a month and 60-100 cases for more establish companies in Singapore. In the coming years, there will be more funeral companies or middle men coming up why so the simple answer is DEMAND.   Why demand.   Currently baby boomers are age 50 and above.   How many baby boomers we have in Singapore.  1 million baby boomers in Singapore starting from 50 years old.  (https://www.population.sg/articles/who-are-our-baby-boomers)  A large part of these babies boomers are already in their mid 60s.   Average lifespan of a Singaporean is about 82 years old meaning to say in the next 10 years many of our baby boomers will die.   So will there be a demand?  YES!  it will be a demand.   Like any where in the market.  When there is a demand, prices will rise.

Next reason why prices will rise is very simple.  INFLATION.  It is something we cannot escape.  As much the government can help, inflation will still be there.  Put it very simply best case scenario,  our government tells us every single year for the next 10 years that inflation is at the rate of 0.5 to 1% and GST is raise from 7 to 9% what does it mean?  Prices will rise again.   10 years ago, your plate of chicken rice cost $2.00 today the same chicken rice will cost you a minimum of $3.00.  Not much of a impact?  Lets talk about taxi.   10 years ago, from my house in Sengkang to my army camp in Chua Chu Kang on call will cost me about $20 during peak hours.  Today i travel from Sengkang to Orchard is about $22 to 28 dollars to Orchard during peak hour.   In 2002, i took a cab from Sengkang to Novena during peak hours because i was late for school.  Cost me $9.90 and i gave the uncle $10 and ask him to keep the change.  Today it will cost me about $20 as well.  Still not convince.  How about our HDB flats?  I think you get it by now, no matter what, prices will increase.   Do not forget funeral companies also need to feed their employees as well.   Current salary in a establish company will be from $1600 to $2000 depending on experience, minus the Ang baos the employees get.  These funeral companies will also feel the wrath of inflation as well because 1. Suppliers will increase their prices, 2. Employees need to eat so salary has to increase as well. 3. They need to earn so profit as well.  Hard truths!!

So why and what pre planning can do for you. I am going to tell you the most important reason why. The number 1 thing that can help you is that it protects you from inflation.  How does it work you may ask.  I am going to just tell you 1 reason.  Say today you buy a $20,000 package.  Its already paid for.  There is a contract stating that $20,000.  A contract is a contract nothing more, nothing less.  The company has to honor it.  But how can the company honor it.  1. Check the company if there is any backing, meaning look at who are the investors.  2. Check the history of the company.  3. Gather feedback from other consumers.   Look out for these 3 things and you are protected.

So my question to all of you readers is how much are you willing to pay $20,000 today or $30,000  for the same thing in 5-10 years time.  Its soley up to you to decide.  In fact i challenge you today to go to any meet the people session, ask your MP if prices will go up in the next 5 to 10 years.   If they say no.  Please tell me and i will personally go down and have a chat with the MP.  Ladies and Gentlemen, we make choices everyday.  Do not make the wrong choice and regret or worse your family and love ones regret.   Don’t say “Patang” don’t say  “taboo” because like it or not, death is a matter of when and how.  Its not a matter or want or don’t want. Before i end, my last advice to you is YOUR CHOICE TODAY, YOUR LEGACY TOMORROW.  Good day!!

 

Why Writing Wills are Important

Just imagine this, you are 70 years old, Buddhist and you have 3 children, 2 Sons and 1 daughter  You got to know Jesus and accepted him a week in front of  daughter, however, all along you wanted to have a Buddhist Funeral because your spouse is also a Buddhist so you went to talk to your 2 sons and tell them without telling your daughter.  Suddenly, you had a stroke this morning and died on the way to the hospital.  Your children were notified by the police and they went to the mortuary to identify you and the funeral director is activated by your son.

At the mortuary, the funeral director approach your son to ask which religion of funeral do you want to hold, your son told the funeral director Buddhist.  Remember your daughter did not know anything about it.  The funeral director comes along with a Buddhist funeral brochure and show it to your 3 children when suddenly your daughter said this: ” Mum/Dad accepted Jesus last week, it should be a christian funeral.” Both of your sons look at each other and said: ” No Mum/Dad wanted a Buddhist funeral all along and nothing was mentioned about a christian funeral.”   Then a mini argument started.   Little did they know that your Soul is watching this drama unfold.

At the wake, your daughter is sitting one corner refusing to participate in anything as she was upset with the argument with her brothers and your passing.   For the next few days, she sat quietly in one corner refusing to even attend to anyone when suddenly, your brother who is still alive got angry and scolded her for being disrespectful and unfilial.  Your daughter got angry with the comments made and another argument started.  All these happen while you were watching and they do not know you are around.

At your funeral, your 2 sons have a disagreement because both of them do not know what exactly you wanted and suddenly and argument escalated into a fist fight minutes before the monk starts chanting.   All these once again happens while you were watching and no one know you are around.

After your funeral, its time to divide your remaining assets into 3 parts however, each one feels they should get a bigger share because you love one of them more than the other.  One argument let to another and then all 3 decided to go to court to settle this matter.  All these while you were watching and they do not know.

Has this ever happen before.  Yes, this happens quite often.   In fact this story is nothing compared to many high profile disputes that you get to see in the newspapers.   Why it is so?   Only 1 reason why these happens.   There is no will done or the will is not done up properly and in order.   How can we prevent all fighting and arguments from happening.   Its all about planning.   Writing a Will is part of planning as well.  I am not saying that after you write a will, arguments will stop, fighing will stop.  It will still happen however, it can be minimise.

Planning is not just about buying a casket, buying a niche or planning for a funeral or even just writing a will.   Writing a will is never a easy task as it takes time also and it takes a person who is willing to sit down and see what is best for you and make sure that your decision is carried out in a lawful and orderly manner.

Call me to find out more about how you can write your will and plan for your estate.  I always emphasize that planning is not just about buying what you want before hand but looking to every aspect of what you really want first.   You have a choice to choose and a choice to decide.   Why not give yourself a chance to choose and leave that legacy behind for your love ones to enjoy.   A good legacy brings families together.   No legacy breaks family’s apart.  I am very sure no one wants to see families break up because of money or decisions we make.

Call me to at 98668642 to find out more about planning.  Good day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is Pre Planning so Important

 

What if today the government announce in parliament that GST will rise from 7 to 9% and inflation rate has gone up to 2%?  Will that happen many people ask.  Its hard to say as times of uncertainty is right ahead of us.   A month ago, our Prime Minister commented that our economy  is slowing down but not in a “crisis” yet.  When will the next economy crisis happen no one knows.   Its all about 1 thing.  uncertainty.   However what if today i tell you that there is something that is guaranteed.  All you need to do is to pay today and you don’t have to worry about what is happening tomorrow or 5 to 10 years down the road.  No worries of increase in GST, no worries about increase in prices, no worries about crisis.  Let worry, worry itself.  Less things to worry the better, less worry means you lead a happier life and happier life leads to longer life.

Death is a morbit subject that not many ones to talk about.  However, death is something you can never escape.  Everyone will have to die someday, somehow.  My mum always tell me.  “Its not how you die or the way you die.  Its how the living have to cope with your death.  Its how many things that needs to be done after your death.”

2 years ago, my grandmother passed away from a sudden heart attack at home.  All of us were in shock as it happen within minutes.  It happen on my father’s birthday as well and we had to deal with my aunt passing 2 weeks before.   I would not say its the worse case scenario but it took a big hit on us especially when we have to deal with 2 deaths in a month and a death on a birthday celebration.  We had to scramble hard to figure out what needs to be done.   It took us a few days to come to terms with her passing but we were super relieved at the same time that she did plan for her final journey and her final resting place.   She made her Will as well.  The whole process of the whole episode was a a bitter sweet moment for all of us.  Bitter for her sudden passing but sweet that she made the effort to plan for herself and for us as well.  She left behind a huge legacy for us.  A legacy of love and comfort.

I did not understand much about planning 2 years back when my grandma passed away but after working in the funeral industry after her passing, it open my eyes to planning vs not planning.   On my next blog, i will share on more about planning vs not planning.   However should you decide to take that very step and say ” Gabriel i want to talk to you more about planning, i want to find out more about pre-planning.  I want to leave a legacy behind.  I do not want my loved ones to go through so much after i pass away.”  I am always around to talk to you.  Call me at 98668642 and i will be answering your questions.   Leaving a legacy of love after you die is not scary.  Leaving without any legacy and a mountain of “what ifs, how and what is my next step” and a mountain of debt is something scary.   My only hope is you can think hard about it and have a choice to choose rather than you have Zero Choice to choose.   Have a great day ahead.

 

*dedicated to my popo (grandma) who passed away in April 2014.  Your legacy leaves on till today with lots of love from us*