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Last remains planning as a part of estate planning

Saying Goodbye Is Hard:

How a Comprehensive Estate Plan Can Help

When people think about estate planning, they usually focus on who will receive their money

and property when they pass away and how it will be received. However, estate planning can

also address your end-of-life wishes—the considerations and expenses involved when it is time

to say goodbye to your loved ones. The following are important questions to ask yourself, as the

answers are a critical part of creating a comprehensive estate plan.

How Do You Want Your Remains Handled at Death?

Addressing your final wishes for your body may be uncomfortable, but planning ahead can save

your loved ones time and give them peace of mind, knowing that they are carrying out your

wishes. There are many common options available, such as

● being buried in a casket,

● being cremated, or

● donating your body or organs.

Alternatively, some people choose more unique ways to dispose of their remains, such as by

having them turned into a diamond.

These wishes may be included in your last will and testament,

healthcare power of attorney, advance directive, or a separate document.

Do You Want a Service or Celebration?

When it comes to commemorating your passing, a variety of options are available to achieve

your specific wishes.


Some people prefer to plan a more traditional funeral at their place of worship, complete with

music, scripture readings, and a meal afterward. A funeral can also include a gathering before

the church service or a graveside service. The focus of the funeral is to allow your loved ones

the opportunity to mourn your passing.

Memorial Service

A memorial service can be like a funeral in terms of formality, but typically the deceased’s

remains are not present at a memorial service; usually photos of the deceased are displayed

instead. However, a memorial service can also be informal, similar to a celebration of life.

Celebration of Life

“Celebration of life” events are an increasingly popular way to celebrate your life experiences

and accomplishments. Pictures and videos can be displayed during the event as your loved

ones tell stories of you. The celebration can be tailored to reflect your personality and highlight

what matters most to you.


You may decide that you do not want a funeral, memorial service, or celebration. This could be

for any number of reasons: you may not have many friends or family who could attend a local

service, you prefer to avoid funeral expenses and would rather have your money pass directly to

your loved ones, or you are a private person who does not want the details of your passing

shared with the public.

Do You Have a Final Message?

While you may focus on the official documents that address your money and property such as a

last will and testament and a trust when creating your estate plan, you can also include

documents with personal messages to help you say goodbye to your loved ones.


If you love to write or find it easier to communicate through writing, leaving a letter to your loved

ones can allow you to thoughtfully convey your wishes and last sentiments. You could write one

letter addressed to all of your loved ones if the information you want to communicate is the

same for each person. Alternatively, you could write a separate letter to each loved one if you

have specific things to say to each person.

In these letters, you can talk about your relationship and valuable lessons that you have learned

and provide advice and guidance to pass along to future generations. Not only will the

information in the letter be meaningful to the recipient but it will also provide them with a tangible

gift to help them through the mourning process that can be saved for years to come.


Another way to speak from your heart is through video, which can allow you one last opportunity

to speak to your loved ones. Just like writing a letter, you can address friends and family as a

group in one video or address each person with individual videos. Videos can convey the same

information as a letter and give the recipient the added joy of hearing you speak and seeing

your face.

How Will You Pay for Your Final Expenses?

Depending on the extent of your end-of-life wishes and the anticipated cost, there are many

ways to allocate money to cover these expenses.

Funeral Trust

A funeral trust holds money for funeral costs until you pass away. Then, at your death, the trustee pays

the beneficiary (typically the funeral home providing services) with the funds held in the trust. A

funeral trust allows you to set aside money to cover the following expenses:

● casket or urn

● burial vault

● cemetery plot

● embalming or cremation

● funeral service and accompanying gathering

● obituary

● death certificate

Final Expense or Burial Insurance

Final expense or burial insurance is a special type of life insurance policy that is purchased to

pay for funeral costs, medical bills, and other end-of-life expenses. It usually pays a small death

benefit, such as $5,000 to $25,000, meant to cover funeral expenses rather than provide

financial support for loved ones.

Separate Savings Account

Finally, if you have enough financial resources, you could set aside money in a savings account

to pay for your end-of-life expenses. The savings account would be in your own name and

would have a trusted individual as the payable-on-death beneficiary, who would then use the

funds to pay for your final expenses.

We understand that planning for death is not easy. At the Law Office of Robert J. Warren, we can help

 ensure that your wishes are carried out and your legacy lives on. Give us a call to begin a thoughtful

discussion about your end-of-life wishes and expenses