Friday, April 15, 2011

Being Late to Your Own Funeral: How to make your funeral wishes known.

In a final act demonstrating her sense of humor, Elizabeth Taylor gave instructions that she be late to her own funeral.

Every once and awhile, I'm asked how to make your funeral wishes known. In fact, some people believe that is the main purpose of a will. However, I don't recommend funeral and burial wishes be placed in a will. A big reason is that it can take some time to locate the will, especially if it is in a safe deposit box that only you have access to. Burial decisions need to be made quickly and some decisions might be made before anyone sees your will.

A better place to put your burial instructions is in your health care directive. Health care directives name the person, the health care agent, who has the power to make decisions regarding your health care if you are incapacitated. It also is a way to communicate your wishes regarding end of life care. While burial wishes do not necessarily fall under the powers of a health care agent, a health care directive can be used to communicate those burial wishes. Once you have your wishes stated in your health care directive, you can share a copy with your named agent.

It is important to note that practically, it may be impossible to ensure your wishes are enforced. Anyone petitioning the court on your behalf won't get a hearing until likely long after you've been buried.

1 comment:

  1. Good insight - it seems like the average person doesn't make the distinction between a the purpose of a will and a health care directive.