Advanced Directives

Date: May 6, 2014

Disclosing Your Funeral Arrangements Somewhere Other Than Your Will or Trust

Advanced DirectivesIn dealing with issues of estate planning, it is a near certainty that at some point in the process, you will have to discuss funeral arrangements and the disposition of remains for either yourself, or for someone you love. For most individuals, this entails making arrangements for either burial or cremation. While there is no harm in documenting your funeral wishes in your Last Will & Testament or Trust, by the time those documents are located and read, the time will have already passed for your loved ones or authorized agents to resolve the questions of how and in what manner to dispose of your remains.

It is important that these arrangements will be discussed with family members, and more specifically, with the loved one, family member or individual that you appoint to serve as your designated agent in your Health Care Power of Attorney and in your Advance Care Plan/Living Will. Additionally, it is also helpful to have a separate set of documents dealing solely with your funeral arrangements in a pre-arranged location (subject to those discussions) to aid your family and loved ones in facilitating a smooth transition at the time of your death.

An Update for the Modern Era. In a recent twist, (and in a development occurring in the healthcare field today), some institutions may require you to disclose your plans regarding either burial or cremation in advance of a planned hospital stay, operation, or visit. This is perhaps more common for patients who have diagnoses that involve advance terminal illness or disease, hospice, or high-risk surgeries. However, this practice is gaining acceptance on a number of fronts, and at a number of facilities.

During the recent in-patient hospitalization of a loved one, I was surprised to discover that it was a requirement of the treating hospital that this individual's Advance Care Plan/Living Will state what his plans were regarding cremation or burial, and whether these plans had been disclosed with his appointed agent or power of attorney for healthcare.

At Fidelis Law we work with individuals to craft estate planning solutions that are optimal for each individual, and specific to their circumstances. If you would like more information on estate planning, including Healthcare Power of Attorneys or Advance Care Plans/Living Wills, please call or email us at Fidelis Law.