The fact of your looming mortality isn’t exactly light-hearted dinner conversation, but as the saying goes, death and taxes are the only two certainties in life.
Do your loved ones know how you want your funeral handled—or if you want one at all? If you care what happens to your body and how you’re remembered, you need to make your wishes known well before your death.
Don’t Rely on Your Will
Some folks put their funeral wishes in their will, but since your body isn’t considered “property” and part of your estate, your funeral wishes are not legally binding. If your wishes are only in your will, your family might not see them before holding a memorial or making arrangements for a burial or cremation.
Put Funeral Wishes in a Separate Document
In addition to a will, it’s smart to have your funeral wishes written in a separate document and kept in several locations. Be sure to let your family, friends, or executor know where it is kept. You might want to title it “Final Arrangements,” or a similar name that will make it obvious exactly what’s contained within.
When you write down your wishes, consider listing the following.
1. How you wish your body to be taken care of
Would you like a burial, cremation or other method of interment? Do you have a choice of casket? Do you want a headstone, a mausoleum or an urn? Would you like your ashes scattered? Where do you want to be buried? Are you eligible for a Veteran’s funeral and Military Honor Guard?
2. What service you would like, if any
Some people prefer a memorial or a celebration of life while others prefer a traditional funeral. Some will have very specific requests for their funeral, from décor to speakers to songs. Bearing in mind that your wishes aren’t legally binding, here is your chance to make your desires known.
3. Any pre-paid funeral arrangement information
If you have already paid for a plot in a cemetery, make copies of all necessary documents showing your ownership and attach them to the arrangement requests. You’re not just doing this so your wishes are known—it also will help your family in their time of need.
Store It Online
We live in the digital age, so it comes as no surprise that there are several websites who will store your funeral wishes online. Some will even send emails to your loved ones after your death.
Another simple, low-cost digital solution is to put your final arrangements document into Google Docs, then share it with your loved ones, attorney and estate personal representative, also known as executor. When the time comes, it should be easily accessible.
Talk About It
The last, most basic thing you can do is to sit down with your family and tell them what you want. Sure, it’s sad and awkward, but it’s also a simple fact of life. If you are able to bring it up in conversation, at least give them the basics:
- preparations for your body;
- where you’d like to be buried or scattered; and
- whether you want a service.
To make it easier on them, let them know where they can find your final arrangements document, your will and any other information they’ll need. No one wants to have to hunt down paperwork when they’re mourning.
To Create an Estate Plan:
Speak to an estate planning specialist at Baker Law Group in Hingham MA. We can discuss adding funeral wishes to your will, avoiding probate, asset protection and other estate planning topics. Call 781-996-5656 or toll free at 800-701-0352. Email info@MBakerLaw.com.
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