An obituary can be much more than just a dry announcement of the time and location of your funeral or memorial service. It can be a way to share your life story, communicating information about significant events and people, as well as important values you would like to impart to others. You do not need to leave this task for grieving family members to do after you pass away: Instead, writing your own obituary can be an important part of your estate planning that you can do today.
Estate Planning Isn’t Just about Money and Property
When estate planning is mentioned, it is not unusual for a will or a trust to come to mind first. Wills and trusts are among the most common estate planning tools for transferring your belongings and money to your loved ones. But money and property are not the only forms of wealth you have accumulated over your lifetime. You have many stories, lessons, experiences, and values to share. You may also want to acknowledge influential family members and other people who have played an important part in your life. Your obituary is also a great opportunity for you to ensure that you are remembered in the way you wish.
What Should You Include?
Because your obituary is all about you, you can emphasize any aspects of your life you wish. There is no correct format, so you are free to tell your story in the way you feel most comfortable, showcasing your personality. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Important life events: If you would like an opportunity to tell a brief story of your life, your obituary can provide an opportunity for you to highlight the most impactful experiences from your youth into adulthood.
Lessons learned: Most people learn many lessons over the course of their lives, and it is likely that friends and family members can benefit from your experiences. You can include these lessons in your obituary if you choose so they will also be available to a wider audience.
Gratitude: You can use your obituary to express gratitude to the people who have played an important and beneficial role in your life. If you are dealing with a long-term or chronic illness, you may wish to thank healthcare providers or caregivers who have gone above and beyond to help you during a difficult time.
History: Times are changing rapidly. You can tell your friends and family about the different periods in history in which you lived and how they impacted you. If you lived through a war or were involved in or witnessed certain historical events, your loved ones will cherish your memories of those times because they are part of what molded you as a person. Writing down your memories will also leave an important historical record for the next generation.
Goodbyes: Your obituary can be a wonderful way for you to say goodbye to friends and family members who may not live near you and are unlikely to be present when you pass away. As sad as it seems, it is invaluable for those who are important to you to know that you have thought of them and have made an effort to express your affection.
Where Should You Store It?
If it is important to you for loved ones to publish the obituary you have prepared, you need to take steps to ensure that it is preserved and stored properly. The obituary you have written can simply be incorporated as part of your Remembrance and Services Memorandum. A Remembrance and Services Memorandum is an important estate planning document designed to provide guidance to your family members, trustee, and executor about who to notify when you pass away, how your remains should be handled, your wishes for your memorial service or funeral, as well as the information that should be included in your obituary—or the obituary itself. You should store the original version of the Remembrance and Services Memorandum containing your obituary in the same safe location as your other estate planning documents, i.e. a fireproof safe or bank lock box. Be sure to let your family, executor, and trustee know where your documents are stored, and keep a copy for yourself.
We Can Help
Writing your own obituary in advance can provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you will be remembered in the way you wish. It also enables you to provide your family, friends, and acquaintances with a final message of love. In addition, it will relieve your family members of this task during an emotionally difficult time. Please call us to set up a meeting so we can help you create a Remembrance and Services Memorandum that includes your obituary, as well as other important estate planning documents you need, so you can rest assured that your family members and loved ones will receive all the emotional, spiritual, and monetary gifts you intend.