The main goal of an estate plan is to take care of your family and loved ones, and to give you assurance of this. The more thorough your estate plan is, the fewer instances there will be of wondering “do I have this covered?”
Our team at Family Estate Law Planning Group helps families consider the details, even the ones which may not be obvious. If you’ve followed our blog, you may have noticed some of those aspects of estate planning, like outlining end-of-life or life-extending care wishes. Something else that you should include in your estate plan is a set of funeral instructions.
Why should you plan your own funeral? It may seem morbid or difficult (and it’s perfectly reasonable to feel that way about it!) but this can be one way to substantially lessen the burden on your family and loved ones, especially during the first few days and weeks.
Not planning your own funeral leaves the burden to fall to someone else. Perhaps your spouse or children are prepared to do this but having to pivot from an immediate loss to taking care funeral arrangements can make the grieving process much harder. By documenting your instructions for a funeral home, funeral ceremony and burial or cremation, you save your family from that additional stress during an already trying time.
For people with no surviving spouse or no children, it also prevents the court from stepping in to designate who should handle the arrangements for your body. In most states, the chain of responsibility after a spouse and any children is the deceased’s parents and then, failing that, their next-of-kin. By pre-planning your funeral arrangements as part of a larger estate plan, you can prevent this search from having to occur.
Another burden you can lessen on surviving family members, as suggested by the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, is by identifying how your funeral will be paid for. This is another inconvenient factor that can exacerbate the difficulty of your death, so by potentially prepaying a funeral home or identifying a source of money in your living trust, you can prevent this from being a stressful uncertainty.
The last major benefit, which both the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards website and The Balance affirm, is a more personal one—what should happen to your body and what your funeral or memorial ceremony should entail. For this, there is no set plan to follow. It’s up to you and your family to have a frank discussion about your wishes for everything from how you’d like to be buried (or, if cremated, what should happen to your ashes) to where a funeral or memorial service should take place. Take that conversation and then codify it in your letter of final instruction, the document which outlines all your funeral and burial wishes. At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we will work with you and your family to fold that into your estate plan and help make any alignments necessary, such as identifying assets in a trust to pay for your funeral.
This can be one of the hardest parts of planning your estate because it deals so directly with your own death. Our team at Family Estate Planning Law Group is experienced and knows how to help you and your family navigate these more sensitive elements of estate planning. It can be tough, but it’s so much better in the long run to plan ahead. At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we will help you with that every step of the way.