When Georgia residents begin the estate planning process, they are often concerned about issues such as asset distribution, establishing trusts, and end-of-life decision-making. Sometimes, however, estate planning neglects the issue of final arrangements.
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for people to not include their wishes regarding these arrangements. This can leave family members in a difficult situation as they try to navigate their options, including burial, cremation and whether they wish to have a service in honor of the decedent. In some cases, uncertainty about the decedent’s wishes can result in bad feelings between family members.
People may wish to ensure that their preferences regarding final arrangements are known to their heirs. Individuals who have already granted a power of attorney to someone else should be aware that the power of attorney may give that individual the right to dispose of the deceased remains. The power of attorney could be modified to incorporate the person’s wishes.
Another option is to draft a funeral planning declaration. This document both names someone who will take care of final arrangements while also specifying the person’s desires. When drafting this document, people may want to consult with family members as well as clergy regarding what they want to happen to their body after death and how they wish to be memorialized.
It used to be the practice of testators to include a provision in their wills specifying if they want to be buried or cremated and similar matters. However, in many cases the will isn’t even found when these decisions have to be made. An estate planning attorney can prepare a separate document that sets forth a client’s wishes and make it available to family members in advance.