Estate planning isn’t just about designating who will get your assets or even who will make financial and health care decisions if you become incapacitated. Many people use their estate plan to detail their wishes for burial or cremation and any funeral, memorial or celebration they want.
It’s also wise to set aside some money to pay for everything. People often assume it will simply be taken from their estate. However, that can’t happen until the estate is settled. Even if it avoids probate, this could be weeks or longer.
Having the money accessible
Many funeral homes offer prepaid funeral plans. However, these often aren’t the best choice. If you change your mind, move or the place goes out of business, you’ll likely get most of your money back, but it can be a hassle.
You can open a payable-on-death (POD) account to set aside money for your funeral expenses. The POD beneficiary will have access to the money as soon as they have a death certificate. There are other funding options. The important thing is that the funds are available when needed and that the right people know where they are and have access to them.
Put someone in charge and tell them what you want
It’s wise to designate who will be in charge of everything. Naming one or more people can prevent some serious family squabbles.
Another way to prevent family discord – and get the send-off you want – is to leave some instructions. Whether you don’t want any memorial service and prefer that your ashes are scattered at your favorite vacation site (if it’s legal) or you prefer a large, joyous celebration of your life, it’s best to put your vision in writing.
While you can include all of the necessary information in your estate plan so that it’s properly codified, it’s crucial that the person(s) you’re putting in charge have a copy as well that they can access immediately. If you have a burial plot already, include the documentation for that.
With experienced legal guidance, you can help ensure that your wishes are known and honored. This can also help make things easier on your family at a difficult time.