One of the most difficult parts of dealing with the passing of a loved one immediately following their death is making decisions for their final arrangements.
The first question asked of next of kin is often where to send their loved one. The funeral home soon meets with the client to make decisions regarding arrangements, internment, cremation, flowers, and payment, among other things. The number of options available can be extremely overwhelming for anyone right after their loved one has passed away, and without direction, they are left having to guess what would have been wanted and might later carry guilt surrounding these decisions.
It’s natural to want to avoid thinking about our own death, but perhaps the most humane thing we can do for our family and loved ones is to plan at least some details our arrangements ahead of time. It is important to write out your wishes, and you can appoint an agent to carry them out or make any decisions that you do not plan for yourself. Keep this documentation with your other estate planning documents. The specific forms used vary from state to state.
This can be as detailed and specific as you want, or it can simply be generic instruction. It can also just be used to designate an agent who you trust to make decisions for your arrangements.
This is especially important if you wish for your body to be cremated. In some instances, the county’s district court must be petitioned for remains to be cremated, and this petition may be contested if family members oppose cremation. This adds both expense and time to final disposition and prolongs the grieving process for loved ones. Finally, it’s also important to give direction for what should be done with your cremated remains as there are a number of creative options for this now.
You can also include instructions for your final arrangements in your last will and testament, although this may not be recommended depending on your situation. Sometimes a will is not found or read until after the funeral, so you will want to be sure the instructions you leave will be easy to find immediately following your death.
Finally, one of the best ways you can take this burden from the shoulders of your loved ones is to meet with a funeral home and preplan and prepay the services. This ensures that every detail of your wishes will be followed, and how much is paid will be what you feel is appropriate for the service you want. This can also prevent conflict if family members would disagree on your final arrangements.
Including instructions for final arrangements in your estate plan lets your family begin to grieve without the stress of making these decisions without your direction. This can also lower expenses and prevent tension and disagreements between your loved ones. It is worth taking the time to think about and document these instructions for those you love.
For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.