Estate Planning and the Coffin

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“I am letting you know that I will not be working this coming Friday,” the builder of our boat house informed us. (If you wish to learn what happened to the former boat house, you can read about it here1.) Through further discussion, we learned his brother was coming from Norway and they were going to build his mother’s coffin. And “no”, he said, no condolences were needed, as she was very much alive. It was her wish to have this task completed during her lifetime. This is the second time we’ve learned of this particular type of pre-planning. A few years ago, when Diane (author)2 and her husband Mike were visiting daughter Kris3 in New Zealand, her partner’s step-father informed us that he was in the process of building coffins for him and his wife.

Not everyone thinks of pre-planning to the extent of coffin building. It did make for an interesting story and discussion when we learned about it. Where will you store the coffin? Are you painting or carving your name on it? What type of nails will you use? Where did you get your plans? A quick search on the internet uncovered no shortage of help on this subject. Here at White Raven Financial4, one of the tasks we suggest to our clients is to have a Letter of Instruction in addition to one’s estate planning documents. We explain that the letter should include items that are not considered appropriate for a will. The letter may include basic information to help a person’s loved ones with personal preferences; a person’s digital footprint and passwords to allow closure of social media and other accounts and other thoughts. We further explain that there is no right or wrong way to write the letter. But we’ve never thought to mention to have a coffin built – nor do we think we’ll add that. What is your plan?

After learning that inflation rose 8.2% year-over-year when the 12 month Consumer Price Index5 was released in October, it kind of gave the feeling that inflation wasn’t earth bound. Even with the price of goods rising, the World Economic Forum reported6 in mid-October that the average consumer continues to spend, thus providing some resilience to the U.S. economy. Signs of recession dominate head-lines; in mid-October news reports headlined JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon7 warning consumers that a series of headwinds would likely tip both the U.S. and global economies into a recession in 6 to 9 months. CNN Business recently reported8 on a survey which showed about two-thirds of corporate economists thinking that we are either going to be in a recession within the next 12 months or that we are already in one. That leaves one-third of the respondents not agreeing – or possibly feeling that we may just be entering a ‘blah’ economy.

Flying upward bound – across the ocean, Jeffery Kleintop in a blog for Charles Schwab9 wrote on how the triple events occurring in the U.K, China and the Russia/Ukraine are impacting the global economy. In addition, he addressed the strong U.S. dollar and how it is creating problems for other nations that are fighting their own inflation battles. The world is highly connected, and we need our elected officials to bring the right solutions to these problems. A strong reminder on why we vote.

“How will the recession affect my portfolio” is a question that has been asked quite often lately. We thought this interactive chart and article10 by Jeffrey DeMaso by Adviser Investments provides a good illustration of S&P500’s return and recession time scale. In the article he noted that in the last 6 recessions, stocks had bottomed and began rallying before the recession was over. Trying to time the market is often an exercise in futility. The market could rally when one might least expect it and that always provides a good feeling. In the words of the great Roman poet, Ovid, “Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.”

The three major market indices saw a snap to the positive for the month of October. Of the three major indices, the blue-chip barometer (the DOW)* posted a blue-ribbon with a win of 14.03% (yes 14!) for the month. The S&P 500 (SPY)* went for the green ribbon and brought in an 8.1% gain. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMPTR)* came in third with a 3.9% notch to the positive. (*After linking, click on Quarterly & Monthly Total Returns, “Monthly” tab). On Tuesday, Oct 25th, the Dow Jones Indices released the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller12 report. The report showed that home price gains had decelerated across the U.S. The August 20-city composite Home Price Index12 reported a 13.1% year-over-year gain, down from the revised 16.0% reported for the previous month year-over-year posting. Before seasonal adjustments, month-over-month data had the month of August showing a 1.3% decrease from the prior month of July for the 20-city composite index.

Regards and thank you (as always) for reading,

The Team at White Raven Financial

Advisory services offered through White Raven Financial Services, Inc. a Registered Investment Advisor in the State of Washington.

*Indexes are unmanaged and do not reflect service fees, commissions, or taxes. You cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Returns for the DOW, S&P 500 and the NASDAQ are the total return (price only) provided by Morningstar as October 31, 2022. Diversification and asset allocation do not assure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment loss.

*The Standard and Poor’s 500 is an unmanaged, capitalization weighted benchmark that tracks broad-based changes in the U.S. stock market. This index of 500 common stocks is comprised of 400 industrial, 20 transportation, 40 utility, and 40 financial companies representing major U.S. industry sectors. The index is calculated on a total return basis with dividends reinvested and is not available for direct investment.

*The Dow Jones Industrial Average covers 30 blue chip U.S. companies selected by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. The Dow represents about 25% of the NYSE market capitalization and less than 2% of NYSE issues.

*The NASDAQ is a market-value weighted index that measures all NASDAQ domestic and foreign common stocks.


  11. * (index)
Diane Jochimsen

Meet the Author:
Diane Jochimsen

Diane Jochimsen is the founder and lead financial advisor at White Raven Financial. Whether working on investment portfolios or with a financial plan, Diane always seeks to know more about clients’ values, aspirations, and end goals.

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