Memorial preferences, also called last wishes, are instructions you leave about the types of funeral services and other final arrangements you prefer. For example, memorial preferences include choosing between cremation and burial. Memorial preferences also include matters such as organ donation, what type of religious ceremonies should be observed, and whether you want memorial donations made to charity.Memorial preferences and last wishes range from being very simple and inexpensive to elaborate and costly. Some people use memorial preferences to demonstrate their creativity or inspire a celebration. Others are determined to go out on their own terms.
Some of the most bizarre last wishes are posted on our unique last wishes page.For examples of mainstream last wishes you may want to consider, see popular last wishes.
Last Wishes Planners
There are many types of last wishes planners. Some only leave instructions regarding final arrangements. A more comprehensive last wishes planner provides a place for you to include information about your overall estate plan, as well as detailed instructions about your memorial preferences. A last wishes planner should be easy to update over time.
How to Store Your Memorial Preferences
Discuss your memorial preferences with someone close to you. Explain what is important to you so this person can ask questions and better understand how you want your final arrangements handled. Let this person know where you plan to store your last wishes and other estate planning documents. You can put this information in a
Letter of Instruction.Keep your last wishes form in a place accessible to the person you want to oversee your final arrangements. This could be a desk drawer, a home safe the person can access, your dresser or wherever you feel comfortable keeping it. Do NOT put your last wishes in a safe deposit box or another place that could take someone several days to access. Your last wishes form should be stored in a location that may be accessed immediately upon your death without court approval.Finally, to ensure the person you appoint is the one legally authorized to oversee your final arrangements rather than next of kin, you may want to formally appoint an agent. See disposition of remains.
Free Last Wishes Planner
Pennyborn.com offers a free Last Wishes Planner available for download on our site. You can use this Planner to record your memorial preferences and leave instructions for your loved ones. To print a copy, visit our free estate planning forms section. If you are making a will or trust, completing a Last Wishes Planner is an important element of a comprehensive estate plan.
Memorial Preferences Should Include
By writing down your memorial preferences and last wishes, you get to make important choices about how you will be remembered and the types of arrangements that will be made on your behalf. Your memorial preferences instructions should include information on the following:1. The name, email, address, and phone number of the person you would like to carry out your last wishes. This may be the same person as the executor named in your will or the successor trustee named in your living trust. It can also be a surviving spouse, other relative or friend.2. Whether your remains should be embalmed, buried or cremated. If you are not sure about these choices, review
How to Plan Your Funeral.3. What type of religious practices or cultural customs should be observed at your funeral and burial. In case the person carrying out your last wishes is not familiar with these practices or customs, it is helpful to list your religion or faith in your memorial preferences document.4. Whether you wish to have a public or private viewing or a visitation as part of your funeral services. You may also want to indicate whether you have any objections to funeral webcasts, recording or broadcasting your funeral service.5. Whether you wish to have a lavish funeral, a modest funeral or no funeral services. If you are concerned about your final expenses, see can I afford a funeral for a list of typical funeral costs.6. The name and address of the funeral home you would like to handle your final arrangements.7. If you decide to prepay for your funeral, cremation or cemetery plot, provide detailed information about any arrangements you made in advance, including receipts, funeral contracts, and deeds.8. A list of clothing, jewelry, personal mementos or pets remains that should be buried with you.9. The location of your final resting place or where your ashes should be scattered or interred.10. Any preferences regarding your headstone or memorial plaque, including your choice of epitaph. See list of epitaphs.11. The biographical information to be included in your obituary, including your date and place of birth.12. If you prefer memorial donations in lieu of flowers at your funeral, the name of the charity or institution that should receive donations on your behalf.13. The names, email addresses, and phone numbers of people that should be notified of your funeral or memorial.
14. Instructions regarding organ and tissue donation, along with any arrangements you made with an institution regarding such donation, such as Donate Life America.15. If you are a veteran, information such as your rank, branch of service, date of entering service, and date of discharge.Put your full legal name on these instructions, then sign and date them. Follow the instructions on the left regarding how to store your memorial preferences.Updated December 26, 2018.
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