Raymond Haerry made a thoughtful decision about his own funeral – he left instructions for his body to be brought back to the sunken USS Arizona ship on which he had served more than 70 years ago. Haerry, only 19 when his ship was attacked at Pearl Harbor, lived in New Jersey, never returning to Hawaii.during his lifetime. But when Haerry died earlier this year at age 94, he left instructions saying he wanted his body interred on ”his ship”.
“To help relieve their families, an increasing number of people are planning their own funerals, designating their funeral preferences, and sometimes paying for them in advance. They see funeral planning as an extension of will and estate planning,” the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information page says”, encouraging citizens to make informed preplanning is such a good idea:
- you can choose the specific items you want and need
- you can compare prices offered by different funeral providers
- you spare your survivors the stress of making decisions under pressure
- you can decide where your remains will be buried, entombed or scattered
Don’t designate your preferences in your will, the FTC cautions (a will is often not found or read until after the funeral). In Indiana, your designee under a Funeral Planning Declaration or your health care representative is actually charged with carrying out your funeral plans. Also, avoid keeping a copy of your funeral plan in a safe deposit box (if arrangements need to be made on a weekend or holiday, the family will not be able to get into the box.
At Geyer & Associates, an important area of our practice is Veterans’ Benefits, and we were very touched by Raymond Haerry’s story. We found another Pearl harbor-related story to be very emotionally-laden in a different way:
A group of forensic scientists in Hawaii is still working to identify the remains of those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Thanks to DNA technology, the remains of many of the hundreds of marines and sailors whose remains had been unidentifiable and who had been buried in common caskets, are now able to be identified. Now, 75 years after Navy Seaman 2nd class Raymond Piskuran died at Pearl Harbor, his family was able to bring his remains home to be buried next to his parents in Elyria, Ohio.
Two “lessons” to be learned from these two very different stories:
1. Veterans Benefits, we’ve found at Geyer Law, are the most misunderstood and underutilized resources available. Many veterans and their families are unaware that could be eligible for a wide range of services through the U.S. Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs – even if they did not directly retire from the military or suffer injuries in the line of duty.
2. While nobody wants to think about death, establishing an estate plan, including a funeral plan, is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.