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Can I include funeral instructions in my will?

Making decisions about what you want to happen in the event of your death is not exactly easy or enjoyable, and sharing these wishes can be even more difficult. However, it is something that can provide enormous peace of mind to you and your loved ones.

For instance, you may have some specific wishes about what you want or don't want to happen to your remains when you are gone. If you don't take any steps to define and share these wishes, your loved ones could end up having to make these decisions for you; without your guidance, they may never know if they made the right choices. But before you add your preferences to your will, you may want to reconsider how and when you disclose your burial plans.

While including funeral and burial preferences in your will may seem easy and obvious, it could ultimately be useless. Oftentimes, it takes days, weeks or longer to find and/or open a will, which means that any burial decisions will have already been made.

Because of this, you should instead consider alternative ways of establishing your burial plans. As noted in this FindLaw.com article, this could include talking about your plans with your loved ones and drawing up a Final Arrangements document. This document is separate from your will and allows you to specify a variety of preferences, from what you want to happen with your remains to where you want your final resting place to be.

Whether you discuss your wishes out loud or put them in writing, sharing them with your loved ones can provide considerable relief for all parties. Not only does it allow you to clarify your wishes, it also provides guidance to people who will ultimately be tasked with making these decisions. 

Wills and other estate planning documents can provide critical protection of a person's wishes in the event of death or mental incapacity, but too many people put off estate planning until it's too late. Whether you want to protect your property or define your wishes for your funeral, discussing your plans and protecting them with an estate planning attorney will be critical.

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