Losing a loved one is, first and foremost, an emotional experience. However, unavoidable financial and logistical considerations are also lurking in the wings. In the aftermath of someone's passing, the task of making final arrangements and juxtaposing profound grief with mundane business transactions can often feel a bit surreal. This is particularly true when the death is unexpected or if family members disagree about what arrangements should be made.
Perhaps--maybe after having gone through this experience yourself--you've decided to make things easier for your own family and to ensure they respect your wishes after you pass. Here are a few crucial steps you can take to meet those objectives.
- Decide what you want. Deciding what you want in terms of burial, cremation, organ donation, or even donating your entire body to science is incredibly personal. The same goes for whether you want a religious ceremony, an informal gathering, or some other event to mark your passing ( e.g., arranging to have your remains sent into space). Take some time to think about what you want to happen, and what you do not want to happen. Every person deserves to have the end of their lives marked appropriately.
- Set aside resources. Once you decide what you want, you can provide an enormous gift to your loved ones by setting aside the resources to make it happen. This might include purchasing a burial plot for yourself or setting aside money for your family to take a trip to the ocean to spread your ashes. Whatever your wishes may be, planning ahead and providing at least some of the tools to put your plans into action can make it much easier for people to carry out your wishes.
- Talk to your family. Sharing your thoughts about these matters with your family can be difficult, but it can also give them the valuable information they need to later ease the decision-making process. It can also give them the opportunity to ask you questions. Finally, you should record your wishes in your estate plan or in a final arrangements document to clear up any potential confusion.
Estate planning is not an easy topic to discuss, and neither are your wishes for final arrangements. However, ignoring them or keeping your wishes to yourself could ultimately make these decisions far more difficult on your loved ones than need be.