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Pre-planning a funeral can help avoid family disputes

At any point in your life, death is often the last thing you want to think about. Whether it is regarding a loved one’s plan or your own, it is a difficult and emotional subject to discuss.

The anxiety that this subject causes is often one of the main reasons individuals put off estate planning for so long. However, end-of-life planning – including funeral planning – is an important step that you and your loved ones must take.

What should you include in a funeral plan?

Pre-planning funeral arrangements and wishes is not something people want to do, but it is important to think about. For example, it helps to ask your loved ones what their wishes are, such as if they prefer:

  • A traditional burial
  • Cremation
  • A green burial
  • Donation of body to scientific research

Your loved one’s choice for their funeral plan can often depend on their individual values or their cultural beliefs. Either way, it is important to respect those beliefs and their wishes.

Many people think that they should include their funeral plans in their will, but these plans should often be separate from the will to ensure the family sees and follows the plan before beginning the probate or trust administration process.

Why is it important to plan this?

There are a few reasons it is important for your loved one to have a plan for their own funeral arrangements, including:

  1. Making sure their particular opinions are known. For example, many cultures have varying perspectives on cremation. Or, perhaps your loved one wishes to plan a green burial to support their eco-friendly values.
  2. Attending to the details of the arrangements. This could include the finances, the funeral services and even preferences for the ceremony. Taking care of these elements and providing instructions beforehand can not only give your loved one peace of mind but also reduce the stress and pressure on your family in a time of grieving.
  3. Preventing disputes. Family members might have differing opinions about the funeral arrangements, which could lead to disagreements about how to move forward.

Arguing about your loved one’s wishes is often the last thing you want to do when you have suffered such a loss. Thankfully, in California, if you leave instructions behind in writing, then your family generally must adhere to your wishes. They cannot make changes to the funeral arrangements or plan.

Even though posing the subject with your parents or other elderly loved ones can be challenging, it is important to understand their wishes and ensure they make their wishes known to the family.

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