When it comes to estate planning and end-of-life planning, there can be so many questions to answer and so many decisions to make—all centered on one’s own mortality—that it can be overwhelming and, frankly, depressing at times. So, it’s no wonder that thinking about, or planning for, one’s burial or cremation often falls to the wayside. It is critically important though, and should be included in every estate plan to ensure (1) that the decedent’s last wishes are honored and (2) that the correct party is responsible for making the necessary arrangements and handling the financial responsibilities of those arrangements.
Alabama law allows the inclusion of burial or cremation wishes in a Last Will and Testament, but from a practical standpoint, this is not the best way to ensure your last wishes are carried out. Many people keep their estate planning documents at their lawyer’s office or locked in a safety deposit box. These may take weeks to access, meanwhile, the funeral arrangements must be carried out in a timely fashion.
What we suggest to our clients is having an affidavit prepared, permitted by law under Alabama Code Section 34-13-11, which allows an appointed individual to be the authorized agent who can control the location and manner of the disposition of remains. The form is very straightforward in that it appoints someone to be “in charge” and it notes the method in which you want your remains to be disposed of.
While simple, it can save families the headache and grief of deciding on funeral arrangements and any potential disputes over who’s “in charge”. This can be a huge issue particularly in blended families and/or in relationships that may not be bound by a legal marriage.
For more information on estate and end-of-life planning issues, call our firm today to speak with a licensed attorney. (251) 621-1555