While there’s no legal requirement that you detail your wishes of where you want to be buried or who will speak at your funeral, it is best to have a roadmap that will guide your loved ones after your death. Writing down whether you want to be buried or cremated will make it easier for your loved ones to make those decisions. Likewise, stating your wishes will help remove any ambiguity about what to do with your remains. It is a good idea to talk with your family and friends about the disposition of your remains before your death. That way, they can look to written instructions and remember the conversations they had with you regarding your wishes.
Do I need to state my burial instructions in my will?
No. Generally, it is a good idea to state your wishes in a separate document. This might be called a Disposition of Remains document. According to RCW 68.50.160(1), a "person has the right to control the disposition of his or her own remains without the predeath or post-death consent of another person." Washington law further states that a "valid written document expressing the decedent's wishes regarding the place or method of disposition of his or her remains, signed by the decedent in the presence of a witness, is sufficient legal authorization for the procedures to be accomplished." RCW 68.50.160(1).
Yes, you can name a charity as a beneficiary in your will. Before you do so, here are some helpful pointers to ensure the process goes smoother after you pass away.
Identify the charity
Research the charity. Ensure that the charity's mission is in lines with your own values. When was the charity established? Will the charity be easily located by your personal representative after you die?
Name of the charity
Make sure the name you have on file is the actual name of the charity. Has the name changed over the years? If you have already named a charity in your will, double-check that the charity still exists or that its name has not changed.
Identify the Amount or Gift
Consider how much and what you want to give to the charity. Does the gift consist of real estate, cash, or a percentage of your estate?
Contact the charity
After you determine which charity you would like to name in your will, you can reach out to the charity to ensure that you have all the necessary details. For example, if you would like to gift real property, double-check with the charity that it can accept the gift of real property that you intend to leave it.
Ruth A. Harper
I'm a Pacific Northwest attorney, and my focus is on estate planning and elder law. My interest in these fields grew out of my experience with aging relatives and family members with special needs.
This website provides information to the general public about law topics, is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as legal advice or as a substitute for the advice of your own attorney. Any person viewing or receiving information from this website should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any such information without first seeking appropriate legal advice from an attorney.