Q: After I die, I want to be cremated. However, one of my kids has already said she won't let that happen and she will fight to make sure that I am buried next to her father.
I don't mind if they bury my ashes there, but I want to be cremated. Is there a way to make sure that my instructions are carried out? When I made my will a few years ago, the attorney seemed reluctant to put my instructions in it.
A: At one time final instructions relating to disposition of remains was included in wills. I've included such instructions a few times but I am not a big fan of including them either.
The main reason I don't like to include such instructions in a will is that family rarely checks it until after the funeral. When you die, I can almost guarantee the will won't be the first thing on anyone's mind.
There are a couple of better ways to make sure your instructions are carried out. First, you can pre-plan your funeral. If you pre-plan, you can choose such things as cremation. Now there is still not a guarantee your kids will go to that funeral home and follow instructions, but I think a pre-planned funeral will carry a lot of weight with your children. This is especially true if you also pre-pay for it.
If you are concerned that pre-planning won’t get the job done, you can use a power of attorney. The authority to make decisions relating to disposal of the principal's remains is probably the only power that survives a principal's death. If you have a power of attorney, pull it out and read through the powers granted to the attorney in fact. If the power of attorney includes such a power, than you are all set.
If the power of attorney doesn't specifically include the power to dispose of the principal's remains, look for a reference to the Indiana code. A lot of powers of attorney include language to the effect that the attorney in fact is granted all powers granted in Indiana code. If the power of attorney references the Indiana code in a similar fashion, the person you appointed should be able to carry out your instructions.
However, the best way to make sure make sure your instructions are carried out is to execute a Funeral Planning Declaration. In a Funeral Planning Declaration, you leave legally binding instructions and you specifically appoint someone to make sure that your instructions are carried out. That person has the legal authority granted by the State of Indiana to make sure that the family complies with your instructions. Make your intentions clear and pick the right person and you should be all set.