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).
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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.
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