Are Funeral Wishes in a Will Legally Binding?

Thinking about your own funeral can be kind of uncomfortable, but most of us have at least a general idea of what we would want: burial or cremation, funeral or memorial service, religious or secular. Some of us have highly specific funeral wishes. For instance, one older woman we knew wanted the church at her funeral decorated with her large collection of decorative birdhouses; at the end of the services, mourners were instructed to take a birdhouse they liked to remember her by.

Whether you have imagined every detail of your send-off, or whether this is the first time you’ve thought of it, one thing is for certain: you won’t be there to carry out your own wishes. If you want the funeral you have envisioned, you will have to communicate your preferences to someone else. But what is the best way to do that? The logical way to convey your funeral wishes might seem to be a will. Read on to learn why putting your funeral preferences in a will is probably a bad idea—and to get some better ones.

Does a Will Include Funeral Wishes?

Technically, a will can include funeral wishes, but that doesn’t mean those wishes are legally binding. But there’s ano… Read More

How to Decline Being Executor of a Will

Being named as the executor of a will is both a great honor and a great responsibility. It means that someone trusted you to wrap up their final affairs and distribute their earthly goods according to their last wishes. However, an executor, also referred to as the personal representative of the estate, has a number of duties to carry out between the time the probate estate is opened and the distribution of assets. For various reasons, not everyone feels up to the task. What do you do when you realize, “I don’t want to be an executor of someone’s will?”

Why Would Someone Decline to Be Executor?

There are many reasons you might not want to be the executor of a deceased person’s (decedent’s) estate.

  • You have a demanding job or young family that needs your attention, and simply feel that you don’t have time.
  • You lived near the decedent when the will was made, but have since moved… Read More

Guide to Final Distribution of Estate Assets

One of the responsibilities of the personal representative of an estate is the final distribution of estate assets to the heirs or beneficiaries of the deceased. Before a final distribution of estate assets can happen, however, there are many other steps that must be taken. If you are serving as the personal representative (also known as the executor or administrator) of a decedent’s estate, it is critical to fulfill those other responsibilities before making an estate distribution.

The probate/estate administration process can be a difficult one. Typically, the person appointed as personal representative is grieving the deceased, as are the heirs or beneficiaries. Many personal representatives have never served in that role before, and may be confused and frustrated by probate court requirements. In addition, heirs may not understand why it is taking so long to settle the estate, and in some cases, may unfairly suspect the personal representative of wrongdoing.

For many estates, it is a good idea for the personal representative… Read More