Did you know the state will name your funeral director, if you don’t do it for yourself? In most states, your spouse also has the right to make all funeral decisions.
Investopedia’s recent article, “Estate Planning: Why You Need a Funeral Directive,” says that if a spouse doesn't intend to carry out your wishes or if he or she has other plans for your funeral, your wishes will most likely be ignored.
Of course, your family can ask the court to have your wishes respected. However, it’s an expensive and stressful experience. In fact, your body might be cremated or buried before your family can get to the courthouse!
To avoid this situation, use a funeral directive and select the person you want to make these decisions for you. This document lets you grant someone the legal authority to carry out your funeral plan. This can be a stand-alone document, but most people include it in their will. A funeral directive allows your agent to arrange memorials, restrict the guest list and decide how you’re laid to rest. It doesn’t have to be your spouse. It can be any person with the strength and diplomacy to order your cremation, despite any family objections.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to memorialize your wishes and grant your nominee adequate legal authority. This may avoid unnecessary conflict and expensive litigation.
After you sign your funeral directive, make certain to provide sufficient funds to carry out your plans. Don't put your heirs in the position of deciding between paying for your funeral or inheriting the money. If you have something specific planned, your agent must have access to enough funds to pay the funeral bill.
In addition to executing a funeral directive, work with your estate planning attorney to arrange your estate plan, so funds are available.
Reference: Investopedia (February 8, 2018) “Estate Planning: Why You Need a Funeral Directive.”
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