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February 9, 2017

Does Your Estate Plan Include Your Funeral Arrangements?

estate planning lawyer in Greenville SC

When you are creating an estate plan to ensure that your loved ones and the courts know how you wish your assets to be handled when you pass, you should also include your wishes and plans concerning your funeral arrangements. Many people don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about their death and how the funeral will be handled, but this is an important aspect of estate planning.

The biggest reasons to  include funeral plans in your estate plan are to save your family from having to make the difficult decisions when the time comes and to ensure that the financial needs of your funeral are provided for. This way, when your family is grieving the loss of your love and support, they don’t have to face the added stress of planning a funeral and financing that funeral.

What If You Have Already Talked to Your Family About Your Wishes? 

It is not a bad idea to have a conversation with your family members about your wishes concerning funeral arrangements. However, this conversation does not eliminate the necessity of having your funeral wishes expressed in your estate plan. For one thing, your family may not remember all the little details, or you might not have discussed every issue when you had the conversation. There are plenty of things to think about, and everything will be easier on your grieving family if your wishes are written down, and your plans include financing the funeral and carrying out the different steps.

It is also important to note that what you’ve discussed in family conversations will not be legally enforceable. Your different family members may disagree about some things or remember the conversation differently. It is also possible for the person you’ve discussed your arrangements with to pass away before you do – or at the same time, if there is an accident involving both of you. You also can’t establish how you plan to finance the cost of your funeral in an informal conversation.

How Do You Plan For The Financial Expense Of Your Funeral?

Funerals cost a lot of money, and this is just one more stress that you don’t want your family to have to contend with when they are dealing with the grief of a lost loved one. Depending on the details of your funeral, it is likely to cost more than $6K. Some funerals cost well over $10K. Keep in mind that this is just for the funeral; it does not include the expense of burial, cremation, or a headstone.

Then, you have to consider the fact that your family may not be in the best state of mind to make wise decisions about these costs, and they could end up spending far more than what is necessary, assuming that they have the resources to cover these expenses in the first place. You may think that your assets and financial resources that are going to be inherited by your family will cover this.

The reality is that these funds and assets are going to have to go through probate before your beneficiaries can receive them, and this takes time. If you plan for your funeral in your estate plan, then you can ensure that there is funding set aside for these expenses. In fact, you can make things even easier on your loved ones by paying for your funeral expenses in advance of your passing. A lot of people don’t realize that this is an option, and it is an excellent solution to save your family from the stress of planning and financing the expenses associated with your funeral and burial.

How Can You Arrange To Pay For Your Funeral And Burial Expenses?

Paying for your funeral and burial expenses before you pass away, and arranging all of the details yourself, is one effective way of ensuring that your family isn’t faced with the difficult decisions and financial hardship associated with the loss of a loved one. Yet, this is not your only option.

You could choose to set up a simple POD (payable on death) bank account with a beneficiary named who will receive the funds when you pass away (without the account going through probate) and will be able to use them for the related expenses.  There are some downsides to this option, as creditors could take money from this kind of bank account; and if the beneficiary passes away before you do, then this could complicate the situation. You could also set up a life insurance account (also without the need of probate), which would be available to your beneficiaries right away.

An Estate Planning Attorney Can Help With These Arrangements 

When it comes to comparing your options and planning ahead to ensure that your loved ones are not faced with the challenging decisions and expenses of your funeral and burial, a South Carolina estate planning attorney can help. Contact the Anderson Law Firm to learn more.