No one wants to leave their family or close friends to shoulder the burden of attending to all the details that arise whenever someone passes. There is a long list of details that must be attended to and each of those decisions is important. You can make that process a lot easier for those you leave behind, and reduce the chance of family squabbles that can create discomfort and damage relationships, by simply making your wishes clear, in writing, before the situation arises. It's one last kindness you can show to your loved ones and it will ensure that things are done in accordance with your wishes.
- Which cremation firm should care for your remains?
- Should your ashes be scattered? If so, where should that take place?
- If you decide not to have your ashes scattered, should they be in a kept in a single container or should they be distributed to family and/or friends?
- If your ashes are to be kept in a single urn, should the urn be interred (and where) or should it be handed over to a particular individual (if this is your choice, who should take possession)?
- Would you prefer to have a portion of your ashes given to individual relatives and friends, who should decide how to allocate the distribution?
- What type of service, if any, should be held, and where should that take place? Who should be invited to speak at the service?
- Would you prefer that people donate to a particular charity instead of sending flowers? If so, to which specific charity would you like donations to go?
These topics are difficult to address, but having these things spelled out in writing, in advance, can make a difficult time much easier for those you leave behind and you'll have the comfort of knowing that your wishes will be carried out.
The Master Document:
Once you've answered all the questions outlined above and put your instructions on paper, there is one more document you'll want to create. This document is not intended to replace your will or any other forms. It is simply a detailed guide outlining where documents can be found and exactly who is responsible for each step.
- Who should act as your Executor to settle your financial affairs and make arrangements for any minor children or pets?
- If the person you have chosen as your Executor is unable to perform the necessary duties, who should step up to fill that role?
- Where are your important documents stored?
- Last Will and Testament
- Living Will
- Power of Attorney
- List of individuals to be notified
- Name of Executor and contact information
- Access information (physical location, passwords, account numbers, etc.) for bank accounts, credit cards, loans, insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, Health Care accounts, stocks and other investments.
- Account information (account numbers and passwords) for utilities (water, electricity and gas) telephone (mobile and landline), internet, cable/satellite, magazine subscriptions and any other services that will need to be canceled.
- Who should have physical access to your house, car, storage locker, etc. (and location of keys for each).
- Make sure your will is current and up-to-date
- Prepare an obituary. If you don't want to write it yourself, designate someone to write it for you and write down important events and milestones from your life so that they can be incorporated.
- Specify the publications where your obituary should appear and allocate funds to pay for it (yes, most newspapers charge for this service) and select a photograph of yourself that will appear with the text.
- Make at least two copies of all the documents described above and keep them in separate locations so your wishes will still be known even if one copy is destroyed by fire, flood or other calamity.
At Simple Traditions, we have been providing caring, dignified cremation services for our clients since 1995. We are not a law firm and nothing presented here should be construed to be legal advice in any way, shape or form. The details provided above are guidelines that are based on our decades of experience helping families make final arrangements.
Creating documents that clearly state your wishes mad define precisely who is responsible for each specific duty will make a difficult time much easier for your loved ones. You'll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you've taken care of the important details and the people you leave behind will appreciate the time and effort you invested in making things easier for them.
If you have any questions, please contact one of our trained and experienced counselors. They'll be glad to answer your questions and help you get started with the process.
Call us at (916) 488-1986 for information or assistance.