Should I leave my funeral wishes in a will?
At some stage, most of us will start thinking about our funeral; where will it take place? Who will attend? Which music will be played? Will my family cope? All of these questions often force us to start making the big decisions – and start to make us think about our wishes – often a long time before the day comes.
Choosing how and where to share funeral wishes can be difficult. Candid conversations with loved ones are never easy and some people may even refuse to talk about the event, preferring to focus on the present. This means funeral wishes may need to be written down and stored away somewhere where they will be read once funeral preparations begin.
Are funeral wishes in a will legally binding?
In short, no. Under current law, funeral wishes in a will are not legally binding. The executors appointed in a will have ownership of the body and are technically considered the decision-makers with regards to funeral arrangements. However, in practice, it will be your family members, or those closest to you, who are not necessarily appointed as executor in the will, who will make your funeral arrangements.
Your last will and testament is a legal written document that specifies where and to who you wish your property and possessions – known as your ‘estate’ – to be distributed to in the event of your death.
There is no reason not to include your funeral wishes in your will, but along with the fact they are not legally binding, bear in mind that your family may have begun making funeral arrangements before your will has been retrieved, so any wishes may only be seen after the funeral has taken place.
Therefore, leaving final wishes or funeral requests solely in your will isn’t the best option. So, what are the alternatives for sharing your funeral wishes?
How to make your final wishes known
Whether you have specific wishes as to the funeral you want, or you just want to provide some reassurance for your loved ones or family members that the funeral they are arranging for you is actually what you wanted, there are a few ways you can make your final wishes known:
Get a funeral plan
Funeral plans are a great way of pre-arranging the funeral, even a long time before it happens, and possibly the best way to ensure your funeral wishes are followed. Whilst your family will likely have the ability to make changes to the plan you have chosen when the time comes (such as upgrading to a different plan or adding on different services), there is more chance your wishes will be followed if you have already put arrangements in place.
Taking out a funeral plan gives you the ability to pay for the funeral either upfront or over time in instalments. This means your family won’t be facing a bill when the time comes. Learn more about the benefits of a funeral plan.
If you’d like the peace of mind of knowing that everything is arranged and paid for before the time comes, then talk to us about arranging a prepaid funeral plan. Our team will take you through all of the options and explain exactly how funeral plans work, as well as making all costs and possibilities fully clear. Our direct cremation funeral plans start from just £1,495, which options available to pay in instalments across a duration of up to 10 years.
If you choose a prepaid funeral plan, you should share details of the plan with your executors and family, so they do not go to the expense of arranging a funeral without any knowledge of provisions you have already put in place.
Use our free share your funeral wishes template
Possibly the best and easiest option is to write down a list of specific instructions that is separate from your will, with our free share your wishes form. You may also choose to do this after you have had an initial conversation with your family.
Whether it’s a few basic instructions such as the music you’d like to be played or the people you’d like to do a reading, or a list with all the finer details, writing it down may be the best way of conveying exactly what you want to happen. The benefit of having everything written down is that nothing can be forgotten either.
Not only will sharing your wishes with your loved ones relieve some of the uncertainty and stress often associated with arranging a funeral, but it may also provide reassurance to your family that they are celebrating your life in the way you would have wanted.
Simply fill out our form and we’ll email you everything you’ll need to share your wishes with your family. Once complete, it is important that you let your loved ones know that you have created this separate document and where it is being stored so they can access it when the time comes.
Talk to your family
As your expression of funeral wishes are not legally binding and can be overturned by family, it's best to talk to them beforehand, along with leaving your wishes in a written document or purchasing a funeral plan.
Speaking about your funeral arrangements provides a chance to clear the air if required, or allow you to explain to others just why your funeral wishes are so important to you. It’s important to remember that some people may find talking about death and your funeral a difficult subject which is why the next option may suit you better.
This conversation could be as simple as advising them of your preference between cremation or burial. A simple conversation will go a long way to ease stress and anxiety during a difficult time.
Read our guide on the importance of discussing death and your funeral wishes.
Can I get help with my funeral wishes?
If you have any further questions regarding funeral wishes or any general funeral queries, then don’t forget you can always get in touch by phone or completing our enquiry form.