A friend of mine passed away a few weeks ago. He was not married but had a life partner. They had done all of their estate planning and thought that everything was in order. The only problem? My friend’s parent was not very accepting of her child’s partner, and, as soon as he passed away, the parent took over and made the funeral arrangements and burial without even consulting the partner.
The parent did not even mention the partner in the obituary. I was quite shocked by the entire matter. The partner did not even attempt to fight with the parent as he was emotionally drained from losing his life partner, had been by his bedside the entire time of his illness and was with him when he died. That is all that mattered to him.
Why am I writing about this? Because it is so important to have your planning in order, and this is an example of, even when you think everything is in order, something might be left out. Although the will mentioned that the personal representative (his partner) had control over the funeral and burial, no one had thought to do a separate document which gave his partner the authority to make those decisions (separate and apart from the Will). I think that, if he would have had an “Authority to Dispose of Bodily Remains” document drawn up, the parent would not have been able to take over planning the funeral arrangements.
Why is this important? If you are someone who is in an unmarried relationship or if you are in a second marriage where the family does not get along well (which could happen in a first marriage, for that matter), it would be a good idea to have legal paperwork drawn up giving your partner the right to make your funeral decisions or specifically stating who you want to be in charge, so that you can circumvent any fights and heartache after you have died.
In times like these, a little planning can go a long way and potentially save some heartache down the road.
For more information about planning documents in Florida, please contact the Brandon Estate Planning Offices of Law Ohall today.