Until you’re in the heat of the moment in your own family or witness discord in someone else’s family, the thought of funeral arrangements making or breaking family relationships may sound downright silly. But, it’s not. In actuality, funeral arrangement disagreements (and the distribution of sentimental personal property) can and does cause too many family fights. Both can be avoided by planning ahead and communicating that plan to loved ones.
Be sure to think about, plan, and let your loved ones know your funeral arrangement wishes ahead of time. It’s best to put it in writing so it’s clear to everyone. This avoids family conflict during a highly stressful time. Let your death bring your family closer together, not tear them apart.
As mentioned immediately above, you may wish to jot down your thoughts and wishes, keeping them with your other important papers. Be sure to let your loved ones know where your funeral wishes are kept so that they can find them readily. It’s not the best idea to keep this writing in your safe deposit box or in your will as both may not be reviewed until after the funeral takes place. Then, instead of your wishes being carried out, your loved ones will be upset and feel guilty that they did not follow your wishes.
Do you want?
- A certain clergy member
- A church, synagogue, temple, or other house a worship
- To be buried, cremated, or both
- A grave site service
- A reception, party, or meal
- Special readings, songs, or prayers
- Certain people invited, open to the public, or just immediate family
- An obituary. If so, what will it say?
California law establishes a priority of persons who have the authority to control the disposition of a deceased person’s remains. However, a valid Advance Health Care Directive allows a person to bypass the statutory priority and appoint the person of his or her own choosing to handle final arrangements. Further control is afforded by various arrangements that can be made in advance, commonly called pre-need contracts, with funeral homes, cemeteries, cremation services and other providers.
When you create funeral arrangements, you can always change them if you change your mind, with the possible exception of pre-need arrangements. Just tear up your notes and let your loved ones know of your changes.