Funeral arrangements are often the frightening obstacle that prevents most estate planning. Thinking about what will happen to us when we die is often something most people avoid, regardless of belief in an afterlife. Even in that case, it is rare that we are eager to set aside our plans for funerals, burial, and other arrangements. However, it is for our family and friends, our heirs and executors, that this step is a critical one in the estate planning process.
Burial or cremation?
For some, this is an easy choice. In some cases, religious beliefs may dictate what should happen to one’s body after death. In other cases, individuals may have different preferences. Cremation is usually not as expensive, but burial offers a permanent places of rest. It is also possible to combine both cremation and burial, by laying to rest cremated remains in a cemetery. Additionally, there are different kinds of burial without cremation. Some families purchase cemetery plots. There are nature reserves where one can be buried.
Wakes. Funerals. Memorial services. Vigils…there are as many ways to remember someone who has passed as there are preferences. Believe it or not, while it might be scary to think about these things now, those who have solid estate plans in place, including a provision stipulating their wishes for how they would like to be remembered, often find peace of mind in knowing their wishes will be honored. Maybe instead of floral arrangements, you’d like donations made in your memory to some of your favorite charities. Maybe you want a specific family member to speak at your funeral. Your estate plan is the place to lay out your wishes.
Declaring your wishes for any funeral or burial services not only gives you peace of mind, but also will save your friends and family a great deal of grief when you do, someday (hopefully far into the future) pass on. Grief is difficult enough as it is–trying to make decisions in the hopes that those choices will be in line with your wishes will make your passing all the more difficult for your loved ones. Provide them the guidance in your estate plan.