A Long-Range Planner: End of Life

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ccrc resident Planning for the future is important to Betty Stallings. From her healthcare needs to her funeral plans, she has mapped out every detail.

“It puzzles me that people don’t plan,” says Betty Stallings. A former Librarian and a self-described “long-range planner,” Mrs. Stallings has always had a detail-oriented eye to the future. Her forethought precipitated her move to a continuing care retirement community and the preplanning and prefunding of her funeral.

Mrs. Stallings has a Master’s in Library Science and was a librarian for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). She worked for HUD for 35 years before retiring, and in her last position, she was responsible for the operation of the Headquarters Library.

Several years before retiring, Mrs. Stallings started looking for a retirement community. She chose Westminster Canterbury of Richmond, a continuing care retirement community, because it offers lifelong care. The community is also close to her son and daughter-in-law, who live in Richmond. She laughs as she notes, “I moved here so that when I get old, I’ll be near someone in my family. Notice that I said ‘when.'”

Getting her funeral arrangements in order before moving to Richmond was a priority for Mrs. Stallings. A longtime resident of McLean, she wanted her funeral to be in the area, and she already had a burial plot in Rock Creek Cemetery. Since both her mother and her father had prearranged their funerals, Mrs. Stallings knew what a gift planning ahead would be to her family. Saving her children the stress of planning her funeral during an emotional time was one of her primary motivations for preplanning.

Like her parents before her, Mrs. Stallings turned to Joseph Gawler’s Sons, Funeral Directors to plan her funeral. “I knew I wanted to plan ahead, and I knew I wanted to work with Gawler’s. My family always has, and they have consistently done a wonderful job,” she notes.

Mrs. Stallings was prepared to preplan her funeral, but she did not really understand prefunding until meeting with Thom Norris, the Vice President and Advance Planning Specialist with Gawler’s. She remembers, “When Thom mentioned prefunding, I was very skeptical. After he explained that the money is held by a separate insurance company, not the funeral home, I realized that this was a safe and legitimate option.”

Thom explained to Mrs. Stallings that she could place the funds for her funeral into a policy held by American Memorial Life Insurance Company. This policy allowed Mrs. Stallings to pay today’s rates for services that will be rendered in the future. The money will only be paid to Gawler’s when services are provided. Before making a final decision, Mrs. Stallings also had her nephew, who is an insurance executive, review the policy; he assured her that the company was a responsible insurer.

Mrs. Stallings admits, “I realize that for some people preplanning may be uncomfortable, but I couldn’t be more pleased that everything is done. I know that these are hard things to think about, but it is such a relief when it is all planned.”

Having planned for the long-term, Mrs. Stallings now simply consults her day planner to see what volunteer or social activity is next. There is her volunteer work in the Development Office of her new Richmond church and service on the Resident’s Council at Westminster Canterbury. Then there is her work with the AARP Tax Aide program during tax season.

And just last month, there was an Elderhostel in Richmond, during which Mrs. Stallings learned all about her new city. Add local tours for all her friends and family to her calendar.

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