If you have taken the time to create a thorough estate plan, you are among the minority and are off to a good start. If you did not already include a funeral plan in your estate planning documents, you should consider doing so now.
A death is, understandably, an emotional time for family members and loved ones. Even if you have verbally expressed your desires to them regarding your funeral, they may be too emotionally charged to remember everything. In addition, a written instrument that expresses your wishes prevents disputes between family members.
Your Will is not typically the best place for your funeral plan as it may not be opened immediately. Under California law, the person designated as the agent under an Advance Health Care Directive has the legal authority to make decsisons concerning the post-death disposition of a person’s remains. When no such agent has been appointed, California statutory law sets forth the order of persons having priority of making such decisions.
Create the plan, in writing, and leave a copy with the executor of your estate, your estate planning attorney, and any appropriate family members. Consider including the following information in the plan:
How the funeral is to be paid for — e.g., life insurance proceeds, a trust set up by you, a pre-paid funeral service.
Who is to be in charge of the details. Be sure to name alternates in case your first choice is unable to take charge.
Whether you want to be buried or cremated
What funeral home you wish to handle the cremation or burial
What container you wish to be used for the burial or for your ashes
Details about a ceremony if you want one. Be specific. For example, do you want a viewing? Open casket? Video display? Wake? What type of flowers?
Who you wish to be the pallbearers if relevant
Where you wish to be buried or what you want done with your ashes
If you wish a marker, include details such as what you want written on the marker
Any specific information you want included in the obituary
A well constructed estate plan