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Should You Include Burial Plans in Your Will?

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on April 15, 2014 10:54 AM

Besides divvying up your estate to your beneficiaries, there are several other things to think about when executing a will.

One consideration is whether to include a burial plan in your will -- letting your executor know your wishes for your funeral. While including a burial plan in your will may seem like a good idea, your wishes may not be carried out exactly the way you want because your body isn't considered "property" for estate planning purposes.

So what can you do to convey your burial plan preferences?

Burial Plans in Wills

Although it's not against the law to include your burial plans in a will, it may be futile. One reason is that settling the estate and probate proceedings usually don't happen until after the funeral. So if your only funeral instructions are found in the will, then your loved ones may not be aware of your funeral wishes until after it's already too late.

Another reason for not including your burial plan in a will is because your body can't be part of your estate since it's not considered "property" under the law. Because your body won't be under your estate's control, your burial wishes may not be carried out.

How to Convey Your Preferences

If you decide not to include your burial preferences in the will, there are several alternative methods to get your wishes met.

  • Talk to your loved ones. Let your burial plans be known to your estate, so they know beforehand what you want. Although you may be trying to alleviate your loved ones' from the financial burden of paying for a funeral, try to avoid pre-paid funeral plans. If you change your mind later or if the funeral home goes out of business, you probably won't get your money back.
  • Create a "Final Arrangements" document. This is a separate, written document from your will that can cover a wide range of issues. In this document, you can discuss your wishes for burial or cremation, location of your burial, casket choice, choice of tombstone or cemetery marker, and anything related to your final resting place. You should sign and date the document and maybe have someone witness the signing.

Although it may be difficult or scary to think about what your burial plans will be, it's best to have your plans laid out ahead of time and an estate planning attorney near you can help you figure out the best ways for getting your preferences fulfilled.

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