You can take two different approaches to the estate planning process. There is a bare-bones, unemotional perspective that involves nothing more than expressing how you want your pie to be sliced and distributed.
The other option is more comprehensive in nature, and it will take the feelings of your loved ones into consideration. A more holistic orientation will also give you the ability to attend to details with your own preferences in mind, and this can enter the picture when it comes to final arrangements.
State Your Wishes in Advance
If you state your wishes in advance with regard to your preferred final arrangements, you take the decisions out of the hands of your loved ones. This will make life easier for them during an emotional time, and it will prevent potential disagreements about the right way to proceed.
Some people adhere to a formal framework that is in accordance with their religious beliefs and family traditions. A common structure would be a viewing followed by a wake where people gather to support the family and celebrate the life of the decedent.
There would then be a funeral service in a house of worship or a funeral home, and the sequence would culminate in the burial with an accompanying memorial service.
This is just one example, but there are many ways to proceed. Some people prefer a low-key approach with a cremation and a simple memorial service as a collective final farewell.
Express Your Preferences in Writing
You can convey your preferences by using a letter of last instructions. The preferred final arrangements would be just one of the different matters that you would cover in this letter, and it should definitely be included in your plan.
Put yourself in the shoes of your executor or trustee. What information would you need to administer someone’s estate? You answer the question in the letter of last instructions.
Clearly, you would include contact information for people that should be notified about your passing. In addition to personal connections, you should connect your administrator with professionals that will be involved in the administration of your estate.
They should be given the location of real property, storage units, keys, vehicles, etc. The executor or trustee will need access to all relevant documents, and if you conduct business online, they will need that information as well.
Many people have social media accounts, blogs, and/or websites, and this virtual property must be accounted for in the letter. There are no particular rules to follow, but these are a few pieces of information that should definitely be passed along.
Prepaid Funeral Plans
There are funeral homes and other entities that sell prepaid funeral plans. We do not want to disparage all companies that offer these plans, but you should definitely tread lightly.
Over the years, there have been prepaid funeral scans, and it is not uncommon for companies to charge exorbitant rates that are not in line with the norm. This is a realm that most people are not familiar with, so unscrupulous types sometimes take advantage of the vulnerability.
Access Our Free Worksheet!
We have prepared an estate planning worksheet that you can go through to gain a more thorough understanding of this important process. This resource being offered free of charge, so this is a great opportunity to build on your knowledge.
You can head over to our worksheet page to learn more and obtain access to your copy.
Need Help Now?
If you are ready to work with a Burlington, Vermont estate planning attorney to put a plan in place, we are here to help.
Each family is unique, and the right way to proceed will depend on the circumstances. Personalized attention is the key to a properly constructed plan, and this is what you will receive when you choose our firm.
You can set the wheels in motion right now if you give us a call at 802-879-7133, and you can use our contact form if you would rather send us a message.