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The importance of sharing your funeral wishes and writing a Will

Death is a taboo subject that most people would rather not discuss, especially when it comes to planning your funeral.

It is also not the easiest subject for loved ones and family members to ask you, so it is important to let them know as many details as you can about your funeral plans, which can be recorded either within your Will or as a separate document.

According to a study by MetLife UK, 51 per cent of those who have faced bereavement in the last two years were not aware of any funeral preferences of the deceased.

Additionally, the study found that 44 per cent of UK adults had not made their funeral wishes apparent to anybody.

While these figures are not necessarily surprising considering the subject matter, not knowing a loved one’s funeral preferences can leave significant stress on those left to make arrangements after their death.

It is important, therefore, to open up the conversation about death and pass on funeral requirements to those closest to you, saving them additional pain on top of what will already be a difficult time for them.

Type of funeral

When it comes to the funeral, you should express your preference for either a burial or cremation.

If you are contemplating cremation, discuss what you’d like to be done with your ashes, as this can be a substantial decision. Conversely, if you want a burial, you will need to inform your loved ones where you’d like to be buried.

Service details

An important part of your funeral wishes is the service itself.  You should state whether you want a religious or non-religious service and advise on the implications and preparations required for each.

For instance, specific religious rites may need to be arranged for a religious service, or a humanist celebrant may need to be booked for a non-religious one.

Personal touches

Personal touches to the funeral ceremony are also important. Aspects such as music selection, flower arrangements, dress codes, the type of coffin, and the funeral procession vehicle can be discussed and documented as part of your funeral plans.  Without these finer details, your loved ones may be left filling in the blanks.

Pre-paid funeral plans

If you are concerned about the financial impact on your family, introducing the concept of a pre-paid funeral plan can be a practical suggestion.  These plans allow you to organise and pay for your funeral services in advance, securing current prices. Professional advice should be sought to ensure these plans are legally sound.

Last Will and Testament

While not strictly a funeral request, it is of vital importance to have a current, accessible Will. A Will that clearly states your executors, beneficiaries, and asset distribution can prevent future disputes and complications.

It is also important to update your Will regularly. Many people are unaware that divorce automatically makes a Will invalid, which means that the rules of intestacy will decide how an estate is shared out.

It is also advisable to update a Will to reflect any major life changes, for example a remarriage, or the birth of children or grandchildren.

If you have specific or complex wishes, it is particularly important to seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in Wills, to ensure your wishes are legally and appropriately documented.

If you’d like more advice on the best ways to approach funeral requests or require assistance with your Will, please contact us.

Rachel Blackburn

Head of Wills, Probate and Older Client Services

I joined Mander Hadley’s Wills, Probate and Older Client Services Team in 2018.I specialise in the preparation of Wills, Probate and estate administration, trusts and trust administration and Lasting Powers of Attorney. I also have experience of care fee planning and appeals of Continuing Health Care decisions.

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