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Should Your Will Contain Burial Instructions?

For many people making a Last Will and Testament is difficult because it reminds us of our mortality. For many people, equally as difficult is making plans for final arrangements including: whether you want any kind of viewing or wake; whether you want a funeral or other religious service; whether you want to be buried or cremated; and where you want your remains to be interred. Once again it reminds us that someday, we will no longer be here. Nonetheless, making final arrangements is something everyone should consider. If you do not plan for your final arrangements, it is one more thing that your family and friends will have to address after your passing. Some people will make their final arrangements themselves, and for those persons it is easy for their families to follow through on what has already been planned.

In many cases, persons make no final plans and then it is up to the surviving family to make the arrangement after their passing. In most cases, the family is agreeable on what arrangements need to be made and it may not be an issue. On the other hand, we have seen more than a few instances where, after the passing, the family is not in agreement with how the final arrangements should be handled leading to discord in the family and possibly legal action.

One such area is the decision on cremation. In recent years, cremation had become more common place, in some cases due to the lower cost. But not all families agree on the issue of cremation. Another instance is where the person was previously married and the family has to decide whether the person should be buried with the prior spouse or with the current spouse.

In all events, it is best if you make your own final arrangements and communicate them to your family. If necessary, in the event that you do not believe that your family may follow your directions, then it may be best to set forth the arrangements in your Will. In that way, someone can seek court intervention, if necessary, to ensure that your intentions are carried out. In the alternative, New Jersey has a specific statute, N.J.S.A. 45:27-22.a, which allows you to designate in your Will someone to make decisions as to your final arrangements in the event that you have not done so before your passing.

Whether you need to set forth your final arrangements in your Will is a decision that you should review with your attorney based upon your specific desires.