Pennyborn.com's free Last Wishes Planner is an easy to complete form that allows you to leave instructions about your last wishes, also known as memorial preferences. Print a copy of the Last Wishes Planner and fill in your own memorial preferences so your surviving spouse, partner, children, parents or friends will be able to plan your funeral services and make other final arrangements with a clear understanding of your intentions.
Note, a last wishes form is not a replacement for making a will, health care poa, or completing an organ donation form. A last wishes form is not a substitute for executing an affidavit or similar type of legal document that may be required under applicable state laws to appoint an agent to control your funeral, burial, cremation or other disposition of remains. Pennyborn's Last Wishes Planner is an informal document designed to be helpful to your survivors. If you need a formal, legally enforceable estate planning document, consult an attorney.
Even if you are reluctant to make decisions about your own final arrangements, completing a Last Wishes Planner can help the important people in your life more than you realize. Choices about cremation, burial, viewings, and final resting place are momentous decisions. In most cases, your family will be relieved to learn you left
a Letter of Instruction on how things should be handled after you are gone. Even if they disagree with your choices, it gives survivors something to focus on, such as honoring your last wishes, rather than carrying the burden of making these decisions without you.
Writing a Last Wishes Letter
Depending on the requests you make in your Last Wishes Planner, you may want to write a letter explaining the reasons for your requests or asking your next of kin to respect your last wishes. For information on why such letters are often recommended by estate planning attorneys, see our Last Wishes Letter.
Taking the Next Step
If one of your estate planning goals is to make things easier for those you leave behind, you may want to take the next step and make your own final arrangements. While you will need someone to carry out these arrangements on your behalf, there are several things you can do in advance. There are many resources online to help you create a customized funeral plan to match your personality. For tips on how to plan your funeral, view our free funeral planning guide.
Make A Last Wishes Video
Last wishes are about putting your own personal touch on your legacy. Your last wishes provide an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on family and friends. If you are a creative person or have something special you want to communicate to your survivors, a last wishes video is the perfect way to express yourself and capture an important moment in time.
All you need to create your last wishes video is a video camera. You may also want to use a tripod if you will be making your last wishes video alone. This video is a chance to say your final goodbyes and maybe provide some words of comfort to those you will leave behind. Ask a friend to help you make the recording if necessary. A last wishes video is not a substitute for completing a
last wishes form or making other estate planning documents such as a will, living trust, power of attorney, and living will. You should still fill out a
last wishes planner like the free one offered on this page and consult an attorney to make sure you have a complete set of estate planning documents.
After making your last wishes video, store it along with your last wishes form and last wishes letter in a place accessible to your executor or the person you want to handle your final arrangements. A convenient way to store your last wishes video is on a flash drive placed in the same location as your other estate planning documents.
Make Your Last Wishes Original
To some people, memorial preferences are extremely personal. You may want yours to remain private, known only to your closest relatives, or you may want to use your last wishes to make your mark and leave a distinctive impression on the world you leave behind. Many ordinary people have made headlines with their unusual last wishes. See Unique Last Wishes for stories of these remarkable individuals and the surprising instructions they left behind.
Last Wishes Themes
When completing a last wishes form, you may want to focus on a particular theme. The theme you choose may help you define the way in which you want to be remembered or the manner in which you want to be laid to rest.
Examples of themes you may choose for your last wishes include:
1. Your legacy
2. Your personal style
3. A celebration
4. Family or children
5. Devotion to your spouse or partner
6. A place that is important to you
7. Your military service
8. Cherished memories
9. Your faith or religion
10. Your community
12. Giving to a meaningful cause
When writing your last wishes or planning your own funeral, you can incorporate several of these themes, focus on just one theme, or create your own unique theme.
To learn more about writing your last wishes as part of an estate plan, go to our memorial preferences page.
Could Writing Last Wishes Help You?
While we strongly believe leaving last wishes instructions is a meaningful gift you can give your loved ones, the process of planning your own funeral may actually add meaning to your life and provide you with renewed purpose. Completing a last wishes form may shed light on what is important to you and help you define your own personal legacy. Your last wishes may be used to begin Legacy Planning.