Palm Springs Memorial Instructions Attorney

When a loved one passes away, it can be hard for surviving family members to think clearly enough to plan a memorial service. In many instances, family members must make decisions within minutes or hours of their loved one's death. One way to ease your surviving family members' burden is to write memorial instructions that direct your loved ones as to your preferences.

If you're interested in providing memorial instructions to your loved ones, estate planning attorney Christopher Heritage can help. Principal lawyer Christopher Heritage offers his clients the whole spectrum of estate planning services. With a focus on the unique estate planning needs of non-traditional families and the LGBT community, Mr. Heritage listens to his clients to determine the best way to address their needs. He also assists clients in drafting a Letter of Memorial Instructions as a supplement to their will and other estate planning documents.

How Do I Create Memorial Instructions?

Thinking about becoming incapacitated or passing away is never easy. However, spending some time to consider what you'd like to happen after you pass away can benefit your surviving loved ones immensely. In California, a will is a legally binding document that directs the distribution of your assets upon your death. Some clients choose to include a Letter of Instruction in their estate planning documents. A Letter of Instruction regarding your memorial plans is not a legally binding document, but it can shed light on your preferences and directives. It is a supplement to the will that contains more personal choices.

Memorial Instructions Often Include Relevant Financial Information

First, memorial instructions should include financial details that would benefit your estate executor and beneficiaries who will inherit your assets. Including information about the following people and documents will help your surviving family members:

  • Attorney
  • Financial planner
  • Insurance agent
  • Pension plan or 401K documents
  • Employer
  • Stockbroker
  • Social Security statement
  • Birth certificate
  • Will and trust documentation
  • Life insurance policy statement
  • Marriage license
  • Tax returns
  • Citizenship papers
  • Deeds to property
  • Divorce decrees
  • Military discharge papers
  • Mortgage statement
  • Credit card statement
  • Car loan statement

Some clients even opt to write their obituary and indicate the publication they'd prefer to publish it. If you have documents in a safe deposit box, it is wise to write down the bank location, box number, and location of the key. Easy access to this information will help your surviving loved ones access the contents of the box quickly. Including specific details will spare your estate executor stress. It is also wise to include several ways to contact the beneficiaries of your estate, bank accounts, or life insurance policies. Providing relevant details could even save your estate money by reducing accountant fees and other professional fees.

Memorial Instructions Include Your Funeral Wishes

Many people don’t realize just how many decisions the family of the deceased are required to make, often quickly after death. Memorial instructions will save your loved ones the stress of trying to determine what you wanted to happen after your death. Including the following details in your memorial instructions will help your family immensely:

  • A list of the people you'd like to receive notice of your death
  • A list of people you’d like to receive an invitation to your funeral or memorial service
  • Your desired memorial service location
  • Who you’d like to officiate your memorial service
  • Who you’d like to serve as your pallbearers
  • The songs you’d like the congregation to sing at your memorial service
  • Whether or not you’d like to be cremated or buried
  • Whether or not you’d like an autopsy conducted
  • Whether or not you’re an organ or tissue donor
  • If you’d like to be cremated, where you’d like your loved ones to scatter your ashes
  • If you are donating your organs, tissues, or body, including the information of the recipient organization is helpful

If you've already made arrangements for your memorial service, it's wise to include a receipt of payment. Including the agreement between yourself and the funeral home or memorial service provider would also be helpful. If you've pre-purchased a crypt or burial plot, it's wise to include the deed to the parcel with your memorial instructions.

Memorial instructions can contain other instructions beyond what you'd like to take place shortly after your passing away. They can also address who you'd like to care for your pets. Or, your instructions might include hopes you have for your grandchildren or any other values or memories you'd like to pass on. Be sure to address your instructions to the person who is most likely to take over your accounts.

A Tangible Personal Property Memorandum Can Include Information About Your Personal Effects

The period after the death of a loved one can quickly become stressful. Families have experienced conflict regarding how to divide necklaces, stamp collections, and family pictures. Estate planners can designate who will inherit items of small personal property. If you do not want to include this information in your will, you can also add it in a Tangible Personal Property Memorandum. The Tangible Personal Property Memorandum is legally binding, and it's easier to amend and change a Tangible Personal Property Memorandum than to modify a will to change the beneficiaries of smaller personal property items.

Do you have items that don't hold monetary value but hold sentimental value? You can use your Tangible Personal Property Memorandums to designate your wishes as to who should receive which sentimental items. Perhaps you've already told a granddaughter that she can have your wedding photos. Maybe you want to make sure your daughter inherits an antique table she loved. Writing down instructions as to the disbursement of sentimental items could spare your surviving family members many squabbles.

If You’d Like to Create Memorial Instructions and a Tangible Personal Property Memorandum, Heritage Legal Can Help

We understand the importance of making your memorial wishes known. Principal attorney Christopher Heritage can is actively involved and experienced in all aspects of California estate planning. If you're located in the Palm Springs area and would like to create Memorial Instructions and a Tangible Personal Property Memorandum, or any other estate planning document, he can help. Contact Heritage Legal today to set up your initial consultation.

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