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Finding a place for funeral arrangements in your estate plan

Many people think of estate planning as something that is confined solely to a will or trust. In reality, good estate planning is usually more complex than that. Now that New Jersey has legislation regarding funeral arrangements, estate administration can legally require certain arrangements for the funeral of the deceased.

Although some people put their desired arrangements in their will, there may be a more efficient place for it. People who are completing their estate plan should ask themselves if their children and beneficiaries would look at their wills immediately after they died. In many cases, the will is not thoroughly looked at until after the funeral.

Another downfall with putting funeral preferences in your will is the challenges with changing your wishes. In order to make a will official, it must be signed by outside parties. If an individual wants to make some any changes to their arrangements, the will would need to be signed again in order for it to be legitimate.

This is where the Funeral Planning Declaration (FPD) comes in. An FPD legally binds someone to the arrangements that are explained in the document. An FPD also allows an individual to put someone in charge of the final decisions regarding his or her funeral, in case anything unexpected comes up.

Many details can be outlined in a declaration - the funeral home where the ceremony will be held, the cemetery or crematorium where the body will be taken, the person who will oversee the service and even the type of casket. Similar to the execution of a will, they are easy to write up and are becoming more common. If you want peace of mind regarding your final arrangements, an FPD may be a good option to consider.

Source: nwi.com, "ESTATE PLANNING: Planning for your final arrangements," Christopher Yugo, Times Business Columnist, 12 June 2011

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