During our years of experience in this field, we have learned the terrible consequences that not planning ahead has (financially or otherwise). I’m guessing prenups, litigations, and people losing their retirement is what might come to mind. But you’d be surprised at the things that can happen during a divorce process and why we say to many of our clients to plan for everything, even their own funeral.

Plan Your Funeral Before You Get Divorced

Case Study

 A young dentist is involved in the divorce process. His mother hates his soon-to-be-ex and there is no love lost the other way.  They are NOT nice to each other and have shared a few text messages letting the other know their true feelings.

The dentist’s entire family hates the almost-ex-wife because she is evil, she has taken him for granted and has had an affair and announced she wants a divorce. There is a lot of animosity between both families. As it sometimes happens in divorce cases.

Sadly, and suddenly, during the case, the young dentist was involved in an automobile accident and was pronounced dead at the scene.  He had not planned ahead and of course, had not made plans for his funeral.

“He had not planned ahead and of course, had not made plans for his funeral.”

Who would have? Unfortunately, even more, trauma happened with the family of the young man.  The wife (soon-to-be-ex) was still legally the next of kin. This means that she still had full authority in deciding what would happen to the body, what kind of ceremony would be held, etc.

She had the gentleman cremated without his family’s input or knowledge and would not allow anyone in his family to be at the funeral home or the marital home.  She still had rights and she intended to use them and get her way and boy did she!

Before you plan to divorce, plan your funeral. If this happened to you, and you were not on the best terms with your ex, they could set something up that goes against your beliefs or family’s wishes. Imagine your own mother not being able to attend the service and being unable to grieve properly

Why It’s Important To Prevent Your Ex-Partner From Having Control Over Your Funeral

Even if you don’t think that your soon-to-be ex-spouse is a horrible individual and has just grown apart over the years, it’s not a wise idea to leave things up to chance and to allow them to plan your funeral. Also, keep in mind that if you are yet to file for divorce and your current spouse has no idea that you plan to end your marriage, they may have a change of heart once they find out about your plan to file for divorce. If your soon-to-be ex-spouse feels blindsided by your divorce plans and you pass away suddenly, they may try to get back at you by ruining your funeral plans.

The unfortunate truth is, unless you update your will to stipulate your desired plans for your funeral if your divorce has yet to be finalized, your ex-partner will still be listed as your legal next of kin and will have the legal right to arrange your funeral plans. If you want to safeguard your family’s right to organize your funeral and to mourn in a way that respects your wishes and your family’s wishes, it’s of critical importance and to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

By planning out all the important aspects of your funeral in your will. As even if you are still technically married to your ex-partner when you pass, they must abide by any of the stipulations which are outlined in your will.

Key Decisions That Should Be Outlined In Your Will

In order to ensure that your funeral wishes are respected, it’s well worth going to the trouble to list out key decisions which you have made in regards to your funeral. This way, if you were to pass before your divorce is finalized your ex-partner would not be able to make decisions in regards to your funeral that go against your wishes.

Whether You Would Prefer To Be Buried Or Cremated

The first decision which you should contemplate is whether you would prefer to have your remains buried or cremated. This decision may be based on personal preferences, such as whether you are affiliated with a religion that dictates that followers should always be buried rather than cremated. Or your decision may be swayed by family tradition.

For example, you may want to be buried on a family funeral plot. Where your remains will lie side by side with the remains of your parents, siblings, and grandparents. While it may not be pleasant to think about your own death, outlining your death wishes in your will should provide you with peace of mind. Especially if you feel strongly about your personal preference when it comes to being buried or cremated.

How Much Money Should Be Spent On Your Funeral?

Another key decision which you’ll need to make if you’re keen to plan your funeral before your divorce is how much money should be spent on your funeral. For example, if you would prefer to leave more money in your will for your children or grandchildren, you may prefer to plan a simple funeral that won’t cost a lot. However, if you see yourself as a social butterfly and would love for all of your friends and extended family members to attend your funeral, you may want to allocate a higher sum of money for your funeral.

It’s also a wise idea to think about some of the most expensive expenses which are involved in funeral organizing. For example, your choice of casket may influence the amount which you wish to spend on your funeral. Even the venue of your funeral can vary in price greatly. So, it’s definitely worth looking at the prices of different aspects of your funeral before you commit to how much money should be set aside for your funeral-related costs.

Whether You Would Prefer A Public Or A Private Funeral

You may be unaware that you can opt for a private funeral and most people choose to hold public funerals that are open to the general public. If you are not on friendly terms with your soon-to-be ex-spouse or their family members such as their parents and siblings and are worried that they may try to ruin your funeral, you can opt to plan a private funeral.

This is a great idea if you want to protect your own family from going through extra emotional distress on the day of your funeral. If you do go down this route, it’s important to leave a list of invitees that you would like the organizer of your funeral to invite to your private funeral

Even if you have shared children with your soon-to-be former spouse, you don’t have to invite them to your funeral as your children will be able to attend your funeral with members of your family who you trust to support them during a potentially emotionally charged day. For example, your siblings or parents will be more than happy to look after your children

 Alternatively, you may want to leave the guestlist for your private funeral up to the individual who you trust to carry out your funeral wishes for you. If you can trust that they’ll instinctively know the right individuals to invite to your funeral.

Who You Trust To Organize Your Funeral

Another important decision which you should make before you file for divorce is which individual, you’d like to nominate to organize your funeral. As it’s highly unlikely that you’ll want your soon-to-be ex-spouse to be in charge of organizing your funeral. Instead, ensure to choose an individual who you trust to organize your funeral.

Some examples of individuals who you may trust to plan your funeral include a sibling, parent, aunt, uncle, or a lifelong best friend. If you have adult children or grandchildren who you trust explicitly, you may also want to consider selecting one of them to plan your funeral for you.

Also make sure to ask the individual who you have in mind, whether they would be willing to accept the responsibility of planning your funeral if you were to pass away out of the blue. The last thing that you want to do is to select an individual to plan your funeral in your will, who isn’t comfortable accepting such a responsibility. Remember, that even if the first individual that you ask, declines, another individual who you love and trust is likely to say yes.

How To Protect Your Loved Ones If You Suddenly Pass Away

The only way to ensure that your ex-partner is not able to take control of your funeral plans if you were to pass away suddenly is to talk to a lawyer about updating your will. This is a relatively simple process that is much easier than you may think and which should be completed before you start your divorce proceedings.

You can get help from your lawyer to sort out the legal details, in case the worst-case scenario occurs and you pass away prematurely. Setting up a will before starting your divorce will let you plan for your funeral (or decide who is in charge) and also prevent your ex from keeping your entire estate. So if you want to ensure that your legacy to your children is safeguarded, it’s also well worth having a will written up to protect their financial interests.

It’s important to sort and set this information now so that your family stays protected in this and any other kind of emergencies that might occur. When it comes to finances, planning ahead is always the best option.

Join us for Financial Planning month, we will be sharing valuable information on the Financial aspects of Family Law through our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) and here on our blog. Add it to your Social Media feed.

We help professionals tilt the odds in their favor during a divorce. So, if you are interested in creating or updating your will and filing for divorce, get in touch with our friendly, experienced team by phone at (256) 769-0508, or online at charlottechristianlaw.com to find an attorney that will go to bat for you both in and out of court. We will advocate for you.

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    About The Author

    Charlotte Christian, Esq. is a family and divorce lawyer and founder of Charlotte Christian Law. Born and raised in the Yellowhammer State she still calls home, Charlotte is committed to helping those who experienced loss overcome their hardships and build a new life, stronger and more resilient than they were before. No stranger to trauma herself, including enduring the sudden losses of her father while a young child and husband after 10 years of marriage, Charlotte knows what it means practically and legally to put the pieces in place to create a future filled with security, hope, and opportunity, and find happiness once again. An avid sports fan, you can find Charlotte supporting SEC Athletics.