The Maine Legislature recently passed a law which provides that written directions regarding your funeral will be binding on all parties. The prior law was that your “next of kin” had the right to make your funeral arrangements unless you made prepaid arrangements. This often resulted in disputes among family members with different ideas about what you would have wanted for your funeral. Under the new law, a signed statement by you confirming what your wishes are with respect to your funeral is not only binding on your family members, but such a statement also will help your family members who may be unaware of your wishes. If you choose to make your wishes known, it is our recommendation that those wishes now be made separate from your will. If your wishes for your funeral arrangements are placed in your will, there is a risk that your family will not read your will until after the funeral is complete. In addition, our advice is to be as specific as possible so there is no controversy or dispute regarding your wishes. Of course, funeral directions are only part of the story regarding your estate plan. A well drafted will makes sure that your wishes for the distribution of your assets are carried out in the manner you intended.
This article is not legal advice but should be considered as general guidance in the area of estate planning. Darcie P.L. Beaudin, Jill A. Checkoway, and Bryan M. Dench are Trust & Estate Planning attorneys; others at the firm handle business and other matters. You can contact us at 207.784.3200. Skelton Taintor & Abbott is a full service law firm providing legal services to individuals, companies, and municipalities throughout Maine. It has been in operation since its founding in 1853.