Can California Estate Planning include instructions for my funeral? Should I have a Living Trust? What is pre-need planning? What happens if I am incapacitated? How do I pre-plan my funeral? The California Estate Planning Attorneys at CunninghamLegal are Elder-Care experts and can help put together a Living Trust that will make sure your wishes are followed to the letter if you are incapacited or even after you’re gone.

My wife has told me very clearly, “Now listen, when I die, I don’t want to be eaten by bugs. So, I want you to cremate me. I want you to put my ashes in a box and then into a columbarium where the family can come visit me.”

I am glad she has told me this—and I take her words very seriously.

It’s not easy to talk to your husband, much less your child about your possible illness and death. Usually, the children say, “Oh, Mom and Dad, you’re going to live forever! We don’t want to talk about that stuff.” To them, it’s almost as if talking about death might make it happen sooner.

But talk about death you must. Your estate plan should include instructions for your funeral and final disposition of remains. Instructions may include authorization for use of your body for organ donation, medical training, or research. You can also specify the nature of your funeral, and perhaps most importantly, who will make the decisions about your funeral.

Once again, failure to give instructions about funerals can lead to confusion and strife within a family.

Take the case of a woman I know who died with no plan, and five kids that hate each other. She had no durable Power of Attorney for healthcare, nor a Living Will with instructions for disposition of her remains. Her five children, of course, could not agree, so the funeral home cremated the body and divided the ashes into five separate urns—one for each of them to do with as they pleased. No kidding.

Remember, however, that writing a document is not a substitute for discussing the details with your loved ones in advance. When you become seriously ill or die, decisions will have to be made very rapidly, and the documents may not be available.

Should my Estate Plan Contain Pre-Need Funeral Planning? Can I Prepay my Funeral Expenses?

Your preparations may include pre-need planning, which I strongly recommend. With these arrangements, you go to a funeral home and pick everything out from the red carnations to the Studebaker-themed casket. Not to mention the white cake with strawberries and French crème filling to be served at the memorial service.

You can plan it all ahead and pay for it ahead of time. But you don’t pay any monies directly to the funeral home — what if they are not around when the time comes? Instead, the money goes to an insurance company, which pays out a death benefit to cover these expenses at guaranteed rates.

Pre-need offers a pretty good deal, saves additional heartache, and makes the to-do list that much shorter when someone dies.

What Do We Do as California Estate Planning Attorney Specialists?

The lawyers and staff at CunninghamLegal help people plan for some of the most difficult times in their lives; then we guide them when those times come.

Make an appointment to meet with CunninghamLegal for California Estate Planning and Trust Administration. We have offices throughout California, and we offer in-person, phone, and Zoom appointments. Just call (866) 988-3956 or book an appointment online.

Please also consider joining one of our free online Estate Planning Webinars.

We look forward to working with you!

Best, Jim

James Cunningham Jr., Esq.

Founder, CunninghamLegal

At CunninghamLegal, we guide savvy, caring families in the protection and transfer of multi-generational wealth.


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