“Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them” is a well-known 3-step piece of advice for public speakers, going all the way back to Aristotle himself. The principle – repetition helps the audience remember your point, and the three part outline helps the presenter organize her remarks.
All well and good for business presentations, but, when it comes to estate planning, there’s a slight problem. Perhaps your documents make very clear how your assets are to be divided. Perhaps you’ve even had “the talk”, explaining to your loved ones what your preferences are in terms of funeral ceremonies. Obviously, though, you’re not going to be there to “remind ’em what you’ve told ’em”. While your will and trust might provide for the financial details of disposing of assets, it’s important to deal with the disposal of your remains. Beyond your preference for burial or cremation, Elderlawanswers suggests writing out detailed funeral preferences. Included in the “telling” might be:
- where the funeral or celebration of life is to be held
- who should be invited
- if you want an open coffin, what you want to wear
- who should speak
- what music should be played
- who should be pallbearers
- information you’d specifically like included in the eulogy
- charity to which you’d prefer mourners contribute in lieu of flowers
The Motley Fool writes about a napkin that “put Ted Williams on Ice”, referring to the fact that while the baseball legend’s will had specified that he wished to be cremated, his two children from a second marriage produced a napkin with a “family pact” written on it along with Williams’ signature, saying that he wanted to be cryogenically frozen..Although Ted Williams’ eldest daughter fought her siblings in court, the “napkin” prevailed. .
Although a letter of last instruction for end-of-life wishes is not legally enforceable, Kim Barnett of agingcare.com explains, it provides answers and information during what can be an emotional time for surviving family members.
By all means, have that talk and “tell em”. But, since you obviously won’t we around to “tell ’em what you told ’em”, do so in a letter of instruction.
– by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer blog team