It’s been said that a funeral or memorial service is for a loved one’s survivors. Such services can help family members and friends celebrate an individual’s life and provide some degree of closure.
From that viewpoint, it makes sense that an individual thinking about inheritances to heirs and loved ones might also want to provide direction on how he or she would like to be remembered. Although there is a separation of church and state, a lawyer can nevertheless help individuals accomplish this aim through legal documents that describe an individual's wishes regarding a religious or memorial service.
An attorney who has experience in estate planning may have insight into the best way to memorialize such instructions. An attorney might also suggest that an individual memorialize his or her intentions for end-of-life decisions in other contexts, as well.
For example, designating a power of attorney will ensure that there is someone who can make financial decisions in the event an individual becomes incapacitated. In the medical context, a health care power of attorney serves a comparable purpose. For more specific intentions, a living will can list the types of treatments that an individual might accept or decline, such as resuscitation and artificial respiration.
A recent article provides a practical word of caution: It may not be advisable to store an advance health care directive with estate documents, such as wills or trusts. Doing so might result in a living will being overlooked until after an individual has passed. That, of course, would defeat the purpose of a living will if an individual had become incapacitated before passing.
Source: The New York Times, “Lifting From Others the Burden of Your Own Death,” John F. Wasik May 14, 2014