Estate planning involves many more details than most people realize at the start, and the process is unique because throughout your life most of the planning that you do is for your own benefit. However, when you are planning your estate, your efforts are largely for the benefit of your loved ones. The specific nature of your wishes does externalize your perspective and this is a personal expression, however, the overall objective is a selfless one.
With this in mind, it is important to state your wishes regarding your funeral arrangements. This may seem like something that takes care of itself, but the fact is that if you die without leaving funeral instructions, your family will have to make all the decisions. Imagine hearing the news that a parent, sibling, or spouse has passed away. The last thing you are going to want to do during such an emotional time is scour the phone book calling funeral homes.
In addition to the “legwork” involved, there are very specific decisions that must be made regarding the details of your burial and funeral. One of them would be whether you want to be buried at all; some people would prefer to be cremated. If you were to be cremated, how would you like the remains to be handled? Who would you empower to carry out these wishes?
When it comes to burials, there are many different types of caskets available at widely different prices. Making a decision of this nature is difficult when the deceased hasn’t left behind any instructions. The same is true of the exact nature of the memorial service. Different family members can have different ideas about what is best, and this can inject a layer of tension and acrimony into their lives at the worst possible time.
Including funeral arrangements in your estate plan is the responsible course of action, and the limited amount of effort it will take will spare your loved ones some stress at a time when they will be carrying a heavy burden of grief. Pre-arranging and pre-paying may even be a better solution.
Levine & Furman, LLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.