Rest In Peace? Then Draft A Will Or Trust

Earl Erickson

Visitors: 160

Who will get your body and when and where will you be buried? If you want certainty and peace ofmind, draft a will or trust. My instructions in my living trust specifies who my executor is to carry out mywishes. And my wishes are crystal clear in black and white.

My cemetery plot was purchased by my parents many years ago. They purchased enough plots to bury the entire family and then some. I already have a headstone with my name on it. My living trust also specifies my wishes on where I will be buried. My wife's body is already there. She was laid to rest in 2001. Her body is waiting for mine. We bought a double-header headstone. My name and my wife's name are inscribed in the headstone. There also is an inscription that reads, “Together Again. " These are not only our wishes, that is our final order. I will be buried next to my wife, whether I remarry or not. My living trust has my instructions and my wishes. My executor will carry out my wishes and instructions. There will be no debates or arguments.

And while I enforce my pre-arranged funeral and burial plans, I might as well write my own obituary. I have experience in writing most of my family's obituaries. I might not approve what people will say about me or they might leave some important information left unsaid.

Writing my own obituary might sound strange, but think of all the pressure and confusion I will save from my grieving family. Who wants to write an obituary or have some funeral director write it for you during your time of bereavement? I just may start a new wave of popular self-written and self-published obituaries.

My advice to everybody is to draft a will or trust. A paralegal or an attorney will prepare the legal documents and make it easier for you. Do not rely on verbal intentions. They will only create a cluster of problems and bitter feuds.

My eldest brother, Donald, died in 1975. There was no will. He was divorced and estranged from his wife and his only child. There was no communication with them while our family was planning his funeral and burial.

Our family carried out his wishes for being cremated and his urn buried at the foot of our grandfather's grave. These were his verbal wishes and they were unanimously confirmed among our family members. We were fortunate that there were no arguments or legal debates. We all remembered what Donald's wishes were. But having only verbal wishes sometimes are subject to a lot of problems.

During the past 22 years, I have buried my parents, my aunt and uncle, another older brother, and my wife. There were no problems because their wishes were included in a will or living trust.

Sometimes people have unusual verbal requests. When my uncle died, I remember him telling me he wanted to be buried with a McDonald's cheeseburger, a small carton of buttermilk, a bottle of Budweiser beer, and a can of Copenhagen tobacco dip. His wishes were verified by a funeral director's notes, then I carried out his wishes. Verbal wishes have their place, too. Remember them, they can easily be forgotten. Also, remember that they too, can be written in your will or trust documents.

Imagine the chaos if it were your verbal wishes to be buried with your first spouse, but there was no will or trust. Then if you remarried and your current spouse made arrangements for you to be buried with he or she-it would all be “he said" or “she said. " There was no significant evidence to dispute such a claim. Why would anybody want to go through all this emotional distress during a time when grief and closure are your paramount interests?

Being buried in separate cemeteries, as man and wife, raises other questions. My father is not buried in his parents’ family cemetery. He is buried with my mother and her family. It is common for sons and daughters in marriage to be buried with their spouse and their family members. It is unreasonable to think we will all be buried with our parents.

In the Anna Nicole Smith hearings concerning the debate whether she would be buried, Anna's mother argued in court that her daughter should be buried in her native Texas with her immediate family rather than the Bahamas with her only son, Daniel. Anna bought four plots in the Bahamas when her son died. Her intent was clear that she wanted to be buried in the Bahamas with her son. Anna lived in the Bahamas at the time. She died in Florida. Anna had a will but no funeral and burial plans were documented. If she had done this, the court hearings would have been moot. And the travel expenses, the court costs, the attorney fees, and the time wasted would have been eliminated. In Anna's case, even her intentions were debatable in court, despite the proof of purchase of burial plots.

If you want to rest in peace, drafting a will or trust is not only in your best interest but everybody else's, too. Make your intentions and wishes crystal clear in black and white.

Earl D. Erickson, is a freelance writer. He has written many articles for He loves to write inspirational articles that his readers can relate to in their own personal life. He welcomes them to email him with their own comments and personal experiences. His articles can be read by going directly to his websites. He is also writing a book on his own struggles with alcohol and drug addictions, suicide, depression, grief and bereavement. His book is entitled Independence Day: An Alcoholic's Journey To Recovery. He hopes to finish that project this year.

Mr. Erickson, enjoys listening to music from his extensive library, reading, writing, photography, gardening, camping and the great outdoors.

He also owns and manages five websites. Two of them are: and

Mr. Erickson is a native and lifelong resident of Tacoma, Washington.


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