A Directive as to Remains sets out a person’s wishes for disposition of their remains at their death. This may include instructions for the type of service to be held, which funeral home to use, the location of a pre-purchased burial plot, or directions for scattering a person’s cremains. Not every person chooses to leave a Directive as to Remains but if your wishes regarding cremation, your funeral, or other disposition instructions are important to you, writing those wishes down and sharing them with your family and the Personal Representative of your Will is the best way to make sure those wishes are followed.
A few things to know about a Directive as to Remains:
- A Directive as to Remains is a stand-alone document – these instructions should not be included in a Will. Wills are often not read until after the funeral at which point it may be too late to carry out your wishes.
- If you are part of a blended family or if you anticipate conflict among family members regarding your final disposition, creating a Directive as to Remains can go a long way toward easing family tensions.
- Leaving a Directive as to Remains can alleviate stress for surviving family members as it relieves them of the burden of having to make decisions about unfamiliar matters at a difficult time.
- The Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) specifically authorizes the person named as the Personal Representative (executor) in the Will to carry out the written instructions of the deceased relating to the disposition of the body, funeral and burial arrangements prior to the official court appointment of the Personal Representative. This is critical since it can take quite a long time (especially these days) to obtain the official court appointment of a Personal Representative.
If you do create a Directive as to Remains, make sure you share a copy of it with the Personal Representative named in your Will and with family members who will be involved in making those final arrangements. A Directive as to Remains is not something everyone chooses to create, but if you have particular wishes regarding the final disposition of your remains, the type of funeral or memorial service you want, or if you have a special place that you want your cremains to be scattered, creating a Directive as to Remains is a good way to ensure your wishes are granted.
Attorney Suzanne R. Sayward is a partner with the Dedham firm of Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC which focuses on advising its clients in the areas of estate planning, estate and Trust administration, elder law and probate matters. She is certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, a private organization whose standards for certification are not regulated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This article is not intended to provide legal advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney. For more information visit www.ssbllc.com or call 781/461-1020.