As part of making an estate plan, you may be struggling with the decisions that must be made to plan your final arrangements and set aside funds for
funeral and burial expenses. If you already know exactly what type of service you want and have chosen a final resting place, consider yourself fortunate. In my experience, the majority of people making an estate plan have no idea what to write down for their last wishes. This may be because most people are so busy with everything going on in their everyday lives, they never have time to contemplate their funeral or burial.Our popular last wishes page was posted to help people get an idea about the range of options available when planning a funeral and deciding where to have their ashes scattered. I hope the stories about what others have chosen will make it easier for you to complete your memorial preferences and finalize your estate plan.
Last Wishes to Ride Away in Style
One of the most curious aspects of last wishes is that many people leave instructions about the kind of vehicle they want used to transport their remains to the funeral home and cemetery. When making final arrangements for a relative, children and spouses often pay the cost of having a very nice hearse carry the casket, as one final way to pay respect to their loved one.In the classic Confederate Railroad song, Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind, a young man talks about his father, who never placed much value on material possessions. After his fatherís death, the young man laughs as he watches his conservative father being driven away in a big Cadillac hearse because it was so unlike anything his father would have chosen for himself.One of the most popular last wishes is to be driven to oneís funeral in a luxury car or vintage automobile. For some, it is a desire to have in death something they could not afford in life. Some people have actually written instructions in their last wishes that life insurance proceeds be used to purchase a particular vehicle for the funeral hearse. For car enthusiasts, the type of vehicle that will transport them to their funeral is often very important.Even if the deceased would not want his family to spend money on a lavish funeral, when we make final arrangements for someone we love, we want them to have the best of everything, including the hearse. No one wants to see their loved one driven away in an old clunker. As a result, funeral homes in the U.S. typically use luxury cars as hearses. If you have a concern about the type of vehicle your funeral home uses as a hearse, ask the funeral home director about this when making the final arrangements. There are specialty car companies that lease hearses and other vehicles for funerals.If you plan to leave instructions in your last wishes that a particular type of vehicle be used for your final send off, you should make the arrangements in advance rather than relying on your survivors to carry out your wishes.Unless you own the vehicle, it may be very difficult to arrange for a specific vehicle to be used as a hearse at your funeral. It will also add significantly to your funeral costs in most cases. However, with proper advance planning, you can arrange to ride away in style.
See can I afford a funeral.
Write Your Own Epitaph
Taking control of what will appear on your headstone, grave marker or memorial plaque is a popular type of memorial preference. Many people leave instructions in a will or last wishes planner stating the exact inscription they want on their grave, crypt or columbarium. Some people prefer a very simple inscription, with only their name, or name and year of birth and death. Others add a witty quote or favorite phrase.
Only you know how you want to be remembered. Also, it is a burden for survivors to make decisions about an epitaph when they are grieving. If you want to take control of this aspect of your final arrangements, see write an epitaph.
Burial at Sea
Extremely high on the list of most popular last wishes is burial at sea. Those who love to fish, sail, surf or just be on the ocean are among those who frequently choose burial at sea. In addition to peace, tranquility, and a return to nature, sea burials are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cemetery burials.
Burial at sea
There are several companies that specialize in providing burials at sea, such as New England Burials at Sea. They offer a wide range of services that allow you to customize the burial service. Surviving family or friends may attend the burial at sea or you can arrange a private, unattended burial. If your last wish includes burial at sea in an exotic location, a sea burial provider can make this option possible even if the desired location is far away. Because of applicable federal regulations as well as local permit requirements which may apply, it is generally recommended that a burial at sea company be used rather than surviving family members burying remains on their own. Sea burial companies usually supply the necessary forms that must be completed and can guide you through other aspects of the process.
Spirits and Last Wishes
While it seems like an odd burial request to some, a popular last wish is to be buried with a bottle of whiskey. It seems some people love their spirits so much, they want to be assured they will have a bottle handy in the afterlife. Although most people imagine heaven to be a place where everything is perfect, people who make this last request seem to be hedging their bets.
While the request for a bottle of liquor to be placed in the coffin is sometimes outlined in a personís last wishes, other times it is the surviving family members who decide to make this addition to the grave. There are countless reports of mourners placing the deceased personís favorite brand of drink in the casket or pouring alcohol over the closed casket after it is lowered into the grave.
Some religions strictly prohibit any object from being buried with the deceased person's remains. See disposition of remains. However, the popularity of this last wish tells us that the thought of being buried with a bottle of whiskey provides comfort to many people.
Examples of Popular Last Wishes
Along with an increasing concern about the environment, the interest in green burials has risen dramatically in recent years. While green burials are obviously better for the environment, it may be difficult for some people to accept the realities of a green burial. To learn about the process of green burial and how to locate a funeral provider near you that offers this burial option, visit the Green Burial Council.
Writing Your Own Last Wishes
This page provides an overview of some of the most popular burial requests, funeral plans, and other memorial preferences. If you want to leave instructions for your loved ones to carry out your final arrangements, learning about what others have chosen may help you finalize your own plans. To see a complete list of the types of details you should include in your last wishes, see our page on Memorial Preferences.
Many people have left surprising last wishes in their wills. Sometimes these burial requests are humorous and other times they are bizarre. If you want to do something really creative with your last wishes, the possibilities are endless. Of course, there are a few important considerations, such as applicable laws, and the amount of money you can afford to spend on your funeral, burial, and related arrangements. You may also want to consider how your last wishes will affect your surviving family and friends. To read the stories of individuals who had some of the most original final requests, see our Unique Last Wishes page.
INFORMATION ON THIS SITE, INCLUDING ARTICLES, ESTATE PLANNING FORMS, AND THE ESTATE PLANNING BLOG, IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Pennyborn.com is not a law firm and is not a substitute for a lawyer. Your use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.