What is a Funeral Directive?
January 3, 2020
When a person dies, their loved ones typically hold some type of service to remember them. Ideally, the service and any other type of memorial should reflect the person’s wishes and be consistent with their character. It can be difficult for family members and friends of the deceased to try to piece together what that would mean, especially at such an emotional time. Leaving a funeral directive can help answer many questions that arise and reassure loved ones that they are properly honoring the deceased.
A funeral directive is a legal document that outlines how a person is to be memorialized. It includes important details, such as whether the person should be buried or cremated; where they want their final remains to reside; whether they want a religious service, non-religious service, or no service at all; what type of memorial should be erected, if any; who attends the service; and more. The funeral directive can go into great detail if needed, such as specifying how the remains will be transported to their final resting place. The details of a funeral directive are often guided by the person’s religious or ethnic tradition, but settling them beforehand allows a person to deviate from that tradition in whatever way they choose.
The funeral directive also appoints a trusted person as the funeral director. This person will make sure that the instructions left in the document are carried out and is given the authority to make final decisions in the planning process. It is common for this person to be the executor of the will, but another person can be appointed if desired. This is especially important in situations where someone outside the immediate family will be entrusted with the planning. With no funeral directive in place, the state typically awards this responsibility to the closest relative, beginning with the spouse, followed by children, parents, other next of kin, or if none of these are available, to a court-appointed public administrator. This can lead to serious conflicts if family members disagree.
It may seem natural to put a person’s funeral instructions in their will, as that would likely be the first place someone would look. However, wills must go through the probate process after a person’s death and before they can be read and executed. The distribution of assets and property will take place once it has been released, which could take weeks or even months. Funeral instructions are more time-sensitive than other concerns addressed in a will and should be kept in a separate document. Often, this document is kept with the executor of the will, with copies sent to loved ones as a precaution. The funeral directive can be updated as needed once it is in place.
Brooklyn Elder Law Lawyers at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Assist Clients with Funeral Directives
If you have concerns regarding funeral directives, contact the Brooklyn elder law lawyers at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP today. We help seniors with all of their estate planning needs, including writing or updating funeral directives. We understand that each individual is different, and we will help you devise a comprehensive plan to ensure that your wishes are clearly documented. With offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, New York, and Lakewood, New Jersey, we provide estate planning services throughout Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, New York. For an initial consultation, call us today at 212-495-8133 or contact us online.