Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!

End-of-Life Planning - Pre-Need vs. At-Need

Episode 129

This week, Rayna Neises, your host, speaks with Rick Craig. Rick is an experienced caregiver, author, and ordained pastor.  He felt led to share his personal and professional experiences to help others navigate the journey of planning for end-of-life.  In his book, When It’s Time, Rick walks through 13 end-of-life realities that surviving family members will encounter.  He helps others see that a well-thought-out plan can be one of the best gifts.  Rick shares the following insights: 

  • (5:00) End-of-life planning is a subject very few people know anything about, and they don’t even know where to start.
  • (5:57) Pre-need is planning ahead of time and At-need means that death has occurred, so the approach to the conversation is different based on the timing.
  • (7:00) When a plan is provided ahead of time, the family has a map in their hands and when there isn’t one, the family is left saying, “What do I do now?”
  • (7:35) End-of-life planning is for any age.
  • (9:00) Plans have to be maintained and updated regularly. 
  • (12:00) It is especially important to plan when you start having a family and start accumulating assets. 
  • (15:41) Just take a little piece and start there.
  • (16:38) Connect with Rick at his website, whenitstime.org and find his book on Amazon or Barns and Noble.


*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

[00:00:00] Rick Craig: One of the chapters of the book talks extensively about how to plan a funeral memorial and you go through all that so the person has a voice when they’re gone. It takes away a lot of the striff for family members. Two words to think about is vision and desire.

[00:00:15] Rayna Neises: That’s my guest today Rick Craig on A Season of Caring Podcast where there’s hope for living loving and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host and let me introduce you to Rick . Author, Rick Craig has been an ordained Christian pastor for over 20 years. He felt led to share his professional and personal experiences to help others navigate this journey of planning for end of life at any age. “When It’s Time” walks you through 13 end of life realities that surviving family members will inevitably encounter. Having planned and officiated well over 150 funerals and Memorial services, his expertise in this area is invaluable. Sharing his own stories of loss, along [00:01:00] with others’ testimonies and insight from contributing authors who are experts in the field. When It’s Time contains relatable stories to guide and equip anyone to take the next steps in end of life planning. Learn how a well thought out plan can be one of the best gifts that becomes part of your legacy.

[00:01:19] Welcome, Rick. It’s good to have you here today.

[00:01:22] Rick Craig: Thank you. Good to be here.

[00:01:24] Rayna Neises: Well, I know within your book, you share your own losses, but if you could start off and just share a little bit about your caregiving seasons that you’ve had at different times in your life and I’d like our audience, just to be able to connect with that.

[00:01:36] Rick Craig: Sure. Well, it really started off with my brother who ended up passing away from Agent Orange, Vietnam. But he came up to Northern California and lived with me for six months while he was going through some significant treatments, including a kidney transplant. And then my wife passed away a year later and she had suffered from cancer for 15 years. And on two different [00:02:00] occasions going through significant treatments and taking care of her at home and then finally she was the second person in the world to go through a tandem stem cell transplant. And that’s where she’s in the hospital for a month receiving treatment home for a month. And then back in again, and I was the caretaker for her. And then lastly for my dad who lived in Northern California for three years before he passed away and he had dementia. And so I, I was taking care of him. So I’ve, I’ve got that route before. It’s honoring and it’s a lot of work.

[00:02:35] Rayna Neises: It is. It definitely is. And you’ve had all spectrums from hands on every day to distance and trying to navigate that. It’s such a challenge to do. So your experience both professionally as a pastor and then personally has definitely. Made you uniquely qualified to be able to talk on this subject of end of life.

[00:02:57] And I know with COVID and all [00:03:00] that happened with that, you probably saw quite a difference in how families handled end of life. I know even personally having an aunt that passed away during COVID time, not being able to have the funeral, not being able to go to her Memorial service like we would have, if it hadn’t happened during that time.

[00:03:16] But share with us a little bit of the differences of how different people prepare for that end of life before COVID and now two years later, since we first learned about COVID, have you seen a change?

[00:03:28] Rick Craig: That’s that’s a great question. You know, during that 24 month period where I officiated 86 funerals and memorials. Three months of that, there was no funerals memorials in California. It was shut down. And so unfortunately families were not able to do that with their loved ones. But what I thought I was going to experience when it all started would be a tremendous change in how people viewed end of life. I did not see any change whatsoever. And I was fascinated by that. And I talked to a number of funeral directors that I worked with in, [00:04:00] in different funeral home. And they too really didn’t see any difference. And so when you talk about pre-planning, you would think that that would be a motivator for some people they would say, I want to go out and get this done. I wanna start talking about it. I wanna make some plans. I didn’t see that. Which is shocking to me. So for me, virtually no change whatsoever.

[00:04:22] Rayna Neises: Wow. Yeah, we would’ve expected that it brought more conversations around that and I had a guest Maurine who’s an end of life. doula and one of the things she talked about was her mom was in the hospital with COVID. And she specifically went over scenarios with her mom, you know, mom, if they wanna put you on a ventilator and they’re expecting that you’ll get off in a couple weeks, would you wanna do that?

[00:04:43] Or if you’re gonna be on a ventilator for months, would you wanna do that? You know, she got really specific in those conversations, but I think we are so not comfortable with the subject that we don’t even go there even when it’s staring us in the face. So that’s really interesting. [00:05:00]

[00:05:00] Rick Craig: Well, I, I think that’s part of it and I think the other part of it is it’s a subject matter. That very few, very few people know anything about. Mm. We all know one day we’re gonna die. Mm-hmm that that’s a given, but if you don’t know how to even approach the subject matter, whether it’s at home talking with family members or actually making plans you become paralyzed. And most people don’t really go out and, and learn about the subject matter. They, they don’t. So kind of looking back over the last couple years is a surprise that people did change your pattern after COVID was taken so many lives. And I think I can look back at it now and say, they just didn’t know what to do. They didn’t even know where to start. So I think that’s part of it.

[00:05:43] Rayna Neises: So when you meet with families after they lost a loved one, What do you talk about in preparation for officiating that service and what are some of the advantages of people having pre-planned versus not even talking about it in advance?

[00:05:57] Rick Craig: Well, there’s two different terms to think of and [00:06:00] define pre need meanings that you’re planning need, meaning that there’s a death. So pre-need, you’re planning ahead of time. At need means that death has just occurred. So if you were to walk into a funeral home or mortuary and say, the federal director would say, are you pre-need or at need, meaning has there been a death in the family or are you in here just to do some homework and look at pricing in, in what we offer?

[00:06:25] So when you look at it in, in that direction what are people doing today? And, and what do we talk about when we meet together? We talk about their loved one. I have a family questionnaire that I give to them that’s 38 questions long, and it’s on my. And we talk about their loved one, about what the plan was in order to honor that person. If there is no plan that that begins a whole different conversation, and it typically starts off with people leaning forward, looking at me and saying, what do I do now? Versus the person that is pre-planned to say, here’s what they wanted and here’s what we’ve [00:07:00] done. So let’s take this now and make it into a service. So one of them is, is get a plan. They have a map in their hand. The other one literally says, what do I do now? And that ends a very large question. It deals with finances, deals with legal matters. It deals with funeral preparation. So there’s a big difference between the two.

[00:07:20] Rayna Neises: So in your book When It’s Time is about preparing for end of life at any age. So tell us a little bit more about any age and why someone who’s young, or maybe just a caregiving role versus the person they’re caring for. Why do they care about this?

[00:07:35] Rick Craig: Yeah, that that’s another great question. At any age and I wrote that as part of the subtitle for a reason. Would you think that if I go back and I look at all the records of funerals that I’ve done, most people think, well, they’re probably in their seventies or eighties and that isn’t true. The average age is early fifties. So when you think about a young couple getting married or somebody in their thirties and they have kids and they have a [00:08:00] house and they have careers at any age means that if you were in your late twenties, you’re both working and you have assets one or more to pass away unexpectedly. The whole process starts with legalities goes into probate. Is there life insurance? So when you start off as a young family and you start accumulating assets. There’s gotta be a plan. There’s gotta be something put together to protect you, to protect your family financially and legally.

[00:08:28] So when I sit down with families and, and they’re in their say their parents are in their fifties and they just had a child pass away, their twenties or thirties from an accident or cancer or something quite often. There’s no plan. Mm-hmm . So one of the first questions they’ll say is Rick, do this all the time uh, What should we do legally? There’s no trust. There’s no will, what should we do? And so when you look at it at any age, think about it in terms of maintenance for anything around your house. Anything at all, you [00:09:00] maintain that tool or, or whatever that may be. If you maintain it, it lasts for a long time, but it has to be maintained. So it has to be updated regularly. As it is with trusts wills and life insurance and in your family, as it grows, you need to maintain that in order to get the benefit of preplanning. One day when that person does pass away.

[00:09:21] So any age really does start in the twenties and it doesn’t end until end of life, which could be 50, 60, 70, 80, 90. My father passed away at 91 in his late eighties with dementia. He had a trust, but we had worked that trust every couple of years to make sure that it was up to date so that when he passed away, cuz my mother already had, he just put the key in the ignition, turn it. And then everything just starts to work out as, as planned. So at any age really is any age.

[00:09:52] Rayna Neises: Yeah, definitely. I personally had an experience in my early thirties where I survived a Saddle Pulmonary Embolism, which is a [00:10:00] blood clot in the lung. And most people don’t survive that I was single at the time. And it was definitely a wake up call to me. Even though I was single and I wasn’t gonna leave. Anybody in the lurch. And that way I still was gonna leave it to my family to have to figure out my affairs. And so that was a time which was kind of a wake up call that made me say, okay, yeah, I’m young and there’s, no kids to worry about and all of that, but I still need to take care of these details and make sure that I have the insurance I need to cover my expenses as well as. For my family members to be able to get to my finances, to take care of those details.

[00:10:35] It is so important. And I think, unfortunately it usually takes an event to spur people to do that. And again, I think as we’re thinking of our listeners and that as family caregivers, you’re very much in that stage of focusing on other people and all the things that need to happen to take care of them.

[00:10:53] And we’ve talked before on the podcast that it’s difficult because we can’t force them to take care of those things, [00:11:00] but we can take care of ’em ourselves because we know that the research tells us that caregivers oftentimes the stress and the strain on it impacts their lifespan as well. So we need to definitely make sure we have our ducks in a row.

[00:11:13] Rick Craig: Yeah. When I was pastored at the church and there was a church member, somebody from the community who came in and, and there was a serious illness or diagnosis or caretaking going on I was always very curious and , wanted helpful the was sick, injured, but my focus really went to the caregiver always because they’re the unsung heroes. If you would, they’re the ones that are laboring but there’s very little focus on them. They’re the ones that need help. They’re the ones that need encouragement. They’re ones that, that, that I really focused in over the last, the last 20 years of Northern California pastoring I have met with probably over 600 I survivors, and every one of those survivors had a story.[00:12:00]

[00:12:00] Now, some of them were extensive than others, very involved in the care taking. Very involved in the planning but when you think about any age and you think about somebody in their twenties or thirties, and there was no plan, it gets right down to, there could be family discussion where there’s different views and opinions about cremation versus burial, length of service, where’s it gonna be held, music. So at any age, a person should start thinking about this, especially when you start having a family and start accumulating assets.

[00:12:31] Rayna Neises: I had a guest too, not too long ago, that was talking about celebrating caregiving hood, which is that point in time, which you step into the caregiver role. But I think it also helps us to think about celebrating life and that if we’re planning our own celebration, then we get to pick the music and all of those things that are important to us. And that could really represent us well, if we don’t voice those things to our loved ones, then they’re in the dark. Trying to figure it out and trying to think of what we might like or [00:13:00] might not like and it doesn’t end up being quite the celebration that it could be if you were a part of planning it. So I think that’s important to think about as well.

[00:13:08] Rick Craig: In fact, one of the chapters of the book talks extensively about how to plan a funeral memorial and you go through all that. So the person has a voice when they’re gone so that it takes away a lot of the striff for family members. Two words to think about is vision and desire. So if, if you and I were related and we had a loved one die, you may have a different vision than I do for their funeral. And that’s where problems begin. And so that’s why, again, going back to the, the term any age, it really is a gift to your family when you start making plans, they know what your plan.

[00:13:43] Rayna Neises: I agree a hundred percent. So what are some specific action steps that you would encourage people to take?

[00:13:50] Rick Craig: Yeah. Well, there’s different types of people who would respond to this. There’s the ones that are research oriented. When they get right down, they get on the computer, they [00:14:00] start getting Excel sheets. They start putting all this together. They’re asking questions or doing a homework through comparing, and then you have the extreme other side of the coin. And that’s the person who says I don’t like doing any of that. Mm-hmm none whatsoever. And the reality is the one who does the research and does the preplanning, the gift that they leave, their families, the survivors is exactly that as they, they could celebrate the life of the, the person who has passed away. For the person who doesn’t like to research the action staff would be take one little thing and let’s say it’s very first chapter of the book is on life insurance. One little thing, call two or three life insurance companies and talk to a sales agent and just start collecting information about that. If it’s about Wilson trust, then call two or three different attorneys and, and interview them in the book, it talks about planning your funeral Memorial could be as simple as when in that chapter. [00:15:00] What type of flowers would you like if you want flowers, what type of music would you like? Where would you like it? Were you looking at cremation? Were you looking at burial? So taking everything in little tiny steps for that person who says that’s just not what I do.

[00:15:15] Take a little piece and give you a good example. My dad was a painter by trade, so I can remember painting with him when I was about 10 years old. My job was to take the face plates off the walls and then sand the walls down and, and plead them. And I remember walking in the first time to an apartment and I said, dad, this is such a big job. He said, Rick, just look at that wall, prepare that wall.

[00:15:41] Then look at the next wall and go the next, just take it little tiny pieces. So for the person who struggles with, with with the preplanning. Just take a little piece and just start there and just keep, just keep knocking ’em out one right after another. And that’s why the book is in chronological order, it starts off with [00:16:00] preplanning and then it co-mingles preplanning and that need, and then it ends with at need scenarios. So everybody’s different, but everybody should be looking at this by taking one piece at a.

[00:16:13] Rayna Neises: I think that’s a great suggestion because it can feel really overwhelming. And we’ve already talked about it uncomfortable for many people. So, just looking at what one thing can I do, and being able to just check that off can really make such a big impact.

[00:16:28] So Rick, tell us a little bit about where they can find out more about you and any offers that you have as well as where they can buy your.

[00:16:38] Rick Craig: Sure the book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble online and $16.99. I also have a website and it’s www.whenitstime.org and on the website is an example of each chapter uh, quick synopsis.

[00:16:53] There’s also a calendar on there. So we wanted to book time with me to say, I’ve got questions. I wanna learn more about this they can do [00:17:00] that, but the website www.whenitstime.org is a great place to go. Learn more about me and more about this whole end of life event. So many things to learn about it.

[00:17:10] Rayna Neises: Definitely. I appreciate your time today and just being able to share a little piece of your knowledge and experience from both a pastor’s role, and your own personal role. I think it’s invaluable for us to have this conversation, whether it be with a person we’re caring for, or just for ourselves. It’s such an important step. Thanks for joining us.

[00:17:28] Rick Craig: Thank you. Appreciate it.

[00:17:30] Rayna Neises: Just a reminder, A Season of Caring podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have financial, legal or medical questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

[00:17:41] This episode of A Season of Caring Podcast has been brought to you by No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season. A five star book, available at all major retailers.

[00:17:53] A couple of Amazon reviews said ” Winsome, uplifting” personal stories and practical tips for walking your loved [00:18:00] one through this season of life. ” Michelle Howe.

[00:18:03] “By reading this book and learning from its rich stories, you will begin to exchange your heartaches for hope and memories to forever cherish.” Deborah Kelsey-Davis.

[00:18:12] If you’d like to pick up a signed copy of No Regrets visit www.noregrets-book.com and purchase the special bundle which i’ve created just for you.

This Episode was Sponsored by:

Rick Craig

Rick Craig

Author and Pastor

Author Rick Craig has been an ordained Christian pastor for over twenty years. He felt led to share his professional and personal experiences to help others navigate this journey of planning for end-of-life—at any age. When It’s TimeTM walks you through thirteen end-of-life realities that surviving family members will inevitably encounter.

Having planned and officiated well over one hundred fifty funeral and memorial services, his expertise in this area is invaluable. Sharing his own stories of loss, along with others’ testimonies and insight from contributing authors who are experts in their fields, When It’s Time™ contains relatable stories to guide and equip anyone to take the next steps in end-of-life planning. Learn how a well-thought-out plan can be one of the best gifts that becomes part of your legacy.


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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises

Rayna Neises, ACC

Author of No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, ICF Certified Coach, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Positive Approach to Care® Independent Trainer offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected

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