Aside from enabling the distribution of assets efficiently and effectively, one of the goals of estate planning is to do what is possible to ease the stress on your loved ones upon your passing. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your death, those who care about you will be in pain at this sensitive time, and the last thing you want to do is make it worse. Things like contested wills and disagreements between loved ones concerning their perception of your final wishes are a horrible punctuation to an already sad time.
This is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to include funeral planning in your overall estate plan. There are a number of things to consider and many choices to be made, so if you have not stated your funerary wishes, it will be left up to your family to decide. This can have a couple of different potentially negative consequences.
For one thing, if you have personal preferences, unless you have stated them, it is uncertain whether or not they will be carried out. You may want to be cremated rather than buried, you may want to be laid to rest in a particular cemetery, and you might have a certain epitaph in mind for your headstone, but if you don’t record your desires in your will no one may know what they were.
The other potential scenario to consider would involve a person who has no funeral preferences at all. This individual may feel like it really matters not because once you’re gone you’re gone. Depending on your faith, this does make some common sense on the surface. But if you go this route your family is left with some very awkward decisions, even if they don’t disagree about the details (and that type of disagreement is also a possible problem). How much of the estate’s resources should be devoted to the burial or cremation and funeral? Would you like to see your family pay out $2,000, or $20,000? That’s a pretty big and sensitive decision.
These are just a few things to think about, but it is clear to see that stating your funeral wishes is an important and pragmatic component of your overall estate plan.