Funeral wishes – how do you know what to do when someone dies?

It is common to find in a will a clause about the funeral. Often it will simply express a preference for burial or cremation. Occasionally the expressed wishes are lengthy and go into amazing detail including the exact choice and sequence of music to be played at the funeral service. Unfortunately this forethought can be wasted. By the time the will is located the deceased’s funeral has already taken place.

I read recently a solicitor’s experience a few years ago when he attended the funeral of an elderly client. This client had little family apart from a nephew who asserted that he knew exactly what his aunt wanted and arranged for her funeral to be conducted at her local church. After the burial the nephew insisted to the solicitor who was executor that he read out the will. This is usually only done in Hollywood films and TV series. The solicitor executor happened to have a copy of the will with him and read it out only to discover that the lady’s wishes were for cremation at a particular spot which meant a great deal to her.

My advice to clients is to make provision for funeral thoughts in a completely separate letter which can be left with your close family and friends and that letter can be replaced or amended at any time without the formalities attached to the execution of wills.

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