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The Last Wish
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A Guide To The Important Preparations
It’s uncomfortable, but necessary, to talk about one’s last wishes. Experts say, however, that it’s best for people of all ages to overcome that discomfort and to prepare a list of instructions that family members can easily find and follow in the event of a death. This list should be separate from a will, which is strictly about financial and legal matters, and it should not be placed in a safe-deposit box (which often cannot be legally opened by a deceased person’s family without signed instructions from the deceased). Below are a few tips for types of last wishes that should be included in the list.
Location of important papers: The list of your last wishes should be in a secure place that is easy to find and it is important to tell a number of different people where to find it. It is probably a good idea to keep the list in a place that is secure from the elements and relatively private, but not necessarily locked. In the list, however, you should give detailed instructions for finding all other important papers – which may be locked elsewhere. The papers mentioned in your last wishes list should include insurance papers, marriage records, birth records, car titles, real estate deeds, a will, credit account records, bank records, and whatever may be in a safe deposit box.
Identification information: Your last wishes list should include legal information that may be required for your death certificate and for your survivors who will be charged with carrying out your final wishes. Be sure to include your social security number, your birth date, your birth place, your complete legal name, your address, any other recent addresses, your spouse’s complete legal name and social security number, the complete names and addresses of as many next-of-kin as is practical to list, your occupation and employer’s name, and any military service.
The Last Wish: In this section, list all your last wishes that are not spelled out legally in your will. Things to consider in this section include the following: Do you wish to donate your body to science? If so, state that and include any applicable information about which school or hospital you intend to donate too. What type of funeral services do you wish to have? Do you want an elaborate, formal ceremony in a specific church? If so, you should list specifics in this section. Perhaps you want no memorial service at all, or just a very simple, small one in a private home. Or perhaps you want the decisions about the type of service to be left entirely to a particular person or group. You should make your intentions very clear in this section. You should also, of course, address the issue of your final resting place. Do you wish to be cremated and have your ashes scattered over some special place? Or do you have a specific spot in a local cemetery where you wish to take your final rest? Do you have any specific clothes that you would like to be buried in? Do you care to have any special items with you in your grave?
The above is not, of course, an exhaustive list of what should be included in your last wishes list. But it’s definitely a start. And, as uncomfortable as it may seem, preparing this list – even if you expect to live many more decades – can help set your mind at peace, and it can certainly lead to less stress and grief for your family and friends who you will leave behind.