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Should I leave my funeral wishes in a will?

At some stage, all 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.

Many people think it makes sense to write their funeral wishes in their will. From special mentions to certain colours, people can have whatever they wish (within reason) at their funeral, so letting loved ones know what you want by jotting everything down in your will is the best way of ensuring they read it, right?


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.

The purpose of a last will and testament is more to do with what happens to your estate. The word estate refers to any worldly possessions, whether that’s a prized stamp collection or portfolio of properties and cash savings, so it’s often the case that any wills are handed over to the solicitor once a death has occurred.

The problem is that the funeral could end up being arranged before the will is even read, so any wishes will only be seen after the funeral has taken place.

Therefore, leaving final wishes or funeral requests in your will isn’t the best option. So what are the alternatives?


How to ensure your funeral wishes are respected

Get a funeral plan

Funeral plans are a great way of pre-arranging the funeral, even a long time before it actually happens. By talking with a professional funeral provider, requests can be discussed fully and agreed upon.

The other benefit to having a funeral plan is 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, plus where you have taken the time to plan your own funeral, there is more chance your wishes will be followed.

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 £1,495.


Speak to your solicitor

We all know that families can sometimes have their differences and funerals can only exacerbate disagreements. If you’re worried that family disagreements mean that your funeral wishes could end up being changed or ignored, then it’s worth speaking to the solicitor who will be handling your last will and testament. Documents such as a ‘list of wishes’ can be drawn up, to maintain your expression of funeral wishes is to be read at the same time as your will. Once signed, this document can be brought out at the right time to ensure your funeral wishes are clear to all parties.

Dealing with solicitors can throw up grey areas however, as things like a list of wishes could be contested in the right circumstances. Plus, you’ll need to pay for the solicitor to administer these documents, so it’s best to reserve this method for particularly difficult situations where loved ones are really against your funeral wishes.


Talk to your family

As funeral wishes in a will are not legally binding and can be overturned by family, it's best to talk to them about your wishes beforehand.

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.


Share your wishes

Possibly the easiest option is to write your wishes down, 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 contact us form and we’ll email you everything you’ll need to share your wishes with your family.


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 a contact us form.

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