I am often asked "Should my Will state my wishes regarding my burial and funeral?"
The Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) became effective as of March 31, 2012.
Before the MUPC, the executor had no authority as to the bodily remains of the decedent.
Under § 3-701 of the MUPC, the named (named in the Will) personal representative has power to carry out the written instructions of the testator pertaining to the disposition of the bodily remains and other arrangements such as funeral and burial, even prior to his or her appointment.
As a side note, "decedent" is the term referring to the person who died, "personal representative" is the MUPC word for executor and "testator" is the term referring to the person whose Will it is.
Should the Will contain those instructions?
While it is permissible to state the written instructions directly in the Will, that is not what I recommend to my clients. The reason is that if the client changes his mind, he or she will have to redo his or her Will. I think it makes more sense for the client to write, sign and date a memorandum. The client then should do two more things. First, tell the named executor or personal representative about the written memorandum and where to find it. Secondly, indicate in the Will that he or she is leaving a written memorandum stating his or her wishes regarding the disposition of bodily remains and funeral and burial arrangements.
Besides the disposition of bodily remains and the funeral and burial arrangements, the written memorandum may also provide directions regarding organ donation, prearrangements with funeral home, cemetery and burial lot, casket, cremation and disposition of ashes, memorial service, notifications and obituary.
Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice as this is a complicated area of the law.
The author Brigitte von Weiss of VON WEISS LAW OFFICE is an estate planning lawyer and elder law attorney serving clients in Easton, MA, as well as nearby towns and cities, including Abington, MA, Attleboro, MA, Avon, MA, Bridgewater, MA, Brockton, MA, Canton, MA, East Bridgewater, MA, Foxboro, MA, Mansfield, MA, North Attleboro, MA, Norwood, MA, Norton, MA, Plainville, MA, Randolph, MA, Raynham, MA, Rehoboth, MA, Rockland, MA, Sharon, MA, Stoughton, MA, Walpole, MA, West Bridgewater, MA, and Whitman, MA.
Brigitte, a graduate of Boston College School of Nursing and an honors graduate of Loyola University of Chicago Law School, stands out from other elder law and estate planning attorneys in that she worked as a registered nurse for four years and earned a Master of Science in Taxation with high distinction from Bentley College. This unique combination of legal, nursing and taxation backgrounds enables Brigitte to provide outstanding legal guidance to her clients in their time of need. Call (508) 238-3005 for a free phone conversation with Brigitte to learn if she can help. You also may reach her through her website at www.vonweisslaw.com.