What do you want people to say at your funeral? There’s an old joke that replies, “I want people to say, ‘Look! He’s alive!’” Smart aleck responses aside, you probably don’t want your family members to stand over your casket or urn and say things like “Daddy would have hated this music” or “Mom would have despised the font on these funeral programs.” Yes, people really do fight over things like the font on the funeral program. For some people, a death in the family can really bring out their bad side. That’s especially true if there’s a lot of money or property involved. Sure, you won’t exactly be around to see any fights that might break out, but it’s still probably not something pleasant for you to imagine. You want to do everything within your power to ensure your family members mourn together and comfort each other at your memorial service and immediately afterward.
One of the best steps you can take to ensure your wishes are followed after your death is to call a lawyer with experience in creating wills. Some people think they can create a will online, and sometimes that does work, but it’s best to have a trained legal mind to guide you through the entire process. Your lawyer may also recommend to use a TOD deed to automatically pass the property to the beneficiaries named in the deed. Hiring a reputable lawyer is important for you to have a well understanding of the processes and options that will benefit you and your loved ones. You may think that you’re making your intentions clear, but your wording may not be as strong as it needs to be. When it comes to things like wills, you don’t want to leave any room for gray areas.
If you don’t write a will, that’s making a choice. Inaction is just as much of a choice as action. Don’t assume that your belongings will automatically be divided among your children. That may not be the case. By saying nothing, you’re making it more likely that your descendents will end up in court fighting over what they think you would have wanted. If you want your daughter to get the house and your son to get your car, then say so. You should also talk to your lawyer about purposefully excluding certain relatives from your will. You may think it’s better to completely avoid those who aren’t getting anything, but that may be a bad strategy in some cases. If you leave out Cousin Simon’s name entirely, then Cousin Simon may try to challenge the will in court on the grounds that you must have forgotten him. That may not be a sound legal argument, but it might not stop him from giving it a shot anyway.
Some people decide it doesn’t really matter if they get a big funeral with all the trimmings or a quiet graveside surface. Other people have a very specific vision in mind, from the funeral home they want to use to the song they want played as their casket is lowered into the ground. It’s not a bad idea to plan your funeral before you die, and not just because it’s much harder to plan it afterward. In the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s death, it’s often hard for survivors to function. Sparing the people you care about from some of the work involved with planning your funeral might be one of the kindest things you could do.