When we think about estate planning, we typically think of wills, powers of attorney, and trusts. Yet, these estate planning documents usually do not tell your loved ones what your last wishes are. Families are often left with questions like:
- Burial or cremation?
- Which cemetery plot?
- What kind of casket or urn?
- A solemn remembrance service or an upbeat celebration of life?
The good news is that in Louisiana, you can determine these things before you pass away and appoint a funeral arrangement agent to carry out your wishes. This process is fairly simple: you only need to write out your wishes, including who will be your funeral arrangement agent, and sign the document in front of a notary public. After the document has been signed and notarized, make copies of it for your family. Additionally, put the original in a safe place, and make sure the person you have appointed as your funeral arrangement agent knows where to find the original document. This document provides clear direction to a funeral home and oftentimes prevents conflict among loved ones.
Louisiana law is primarily concerned with the decision to cremate remains. Louisiana Revised Statute 37:876 dictates who can serve as the deceased’s agent in regards to cremation:
- Your surviving spouse (if no divorce has been filed)
- Your adult children
- Your adult grandchildren
- Your surviving parent(s)
- Your adult siblings
- Your next-of-kin
Yet, no one can authorize cremation if the deceased has left instructions that indicate other wishes in a notarized declaration.
In summary, to ensure that your last wishes are followed, write a declaration. In this declaration you should outline your last wishes and appoint a funeral arrangement agent. Then, sign the declaration in front of a notary public. Lastly, put the original document in a safe place where your funeral arrangement agent will know to find it, and make copies of the document for your family. Make it easier on your loved ones; plan ahead.
Click HERE to download the free Funeral and Disposition of Remains Directive form created by our office.