By Attorney Ted Brown
Planning for your own death is not something that anyone enjoys thinking about. However, it is a necessary step to any well-formulated estate plan. The purpose of an estate plan it to make things as easy as possible for those you leave behind, leaving no room for argument or indecision.
Therefore, it is a common step to set aside funds to be used to pay your funeral expenses. This is usually done in conjunction with putting your wishes in writing. That way, your family has some guidance and doesn’t end up arguing over what “dad would want.”
It is not necessary to plan every single detail. Too often families get bogged down in the details. The important thing to do is to make sure your family has a general idea of your wishes:
- Burial or Cremation?
- Viewing or no viewing?
- A basic service or the elaborate send-off?
The purpose of this exercise is to minimize family disagreement over how much to spend and where you want to end up.
Beyond providing guidance in writing, it is just as important to designate someone to carry out these wishes and make the technical decisions. A Power of Attorney ends at death meaning that your agent will not have the authority to make decisions regarding your last wishes. The Executor of your estate will have this authority, but only if you have probate assets requiring administration in Probate Court.
The goal of most estate plans is to avoid probate. Therefore, having to appoint an Executor to carry out your funeral wishes would defeat that planning. Ohio law now provides for this by allowing someone to appoint a “Funeral Trustee” who is empowered to carry out the decedent’s funeral wishes without the need for Court approval.
Funeral planning is an important part of your estate plan and cannot be accomplished with one simple form. Be sure to contact an Elder Law attorney to discuss your options.