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Estate Planning: Writing Your Own Obituary

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John Adams obituary
Public obituaries are nice, but the private obituary you leave your family can be priceless.

An obituary can be much more than just a dry announcement of the time and location of your funeral or memorial service. It can be a way to share your life story, and communicate information about significant events and people, as well as important values you would like to impart to others. You don’t need to leave this task to grieving family members after you pass away; instead, writing your own obituary can be an important part of your estate plan that you can do today.

Estate Planning Isn’t Just about Money and Property

When estate planning is mentioned, it’s not unusual for a Will or a trust to come to mind first. Wills and trusts are among the most common estate planning tools for transferring your belongings and money to your loved ones. But money and property are not the only forms of wealth you’ve accumulated over your lifetime. You have many stories, lessons, experiences, and values to share. You may also want to acknowledge influential family members and other people who’ve played an important part in your life. Your obituary is also a great opportunity for you to ensure that you are remembered in the way you wish.

What Should You Include in Your Obituary?

Because your obituary is all about you, you can emphasize any aspects of your life you wish. There’s no correct format, so you’re free to tell your story in the way you feel most comfortable, showcasing your personality. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
  • Important life events: If you’d like an opportunity to tell a brief story of your life, your obituary can provide an opportunity for you to highlight the most impactful experiences from your youth into adulthood.
  • Lessons learned: Most people learn many lessons over the course of their lives, and it’s likely that friends and family members can benefit from your experiences. You can include these lessons in your obituary if you choose so they’ll also be available to a wider audience.
  • Gratitude: You can use your obituary to express gratitude to the people who’ve played an important and beneficial role in your life. If you’re dealing with a long-term or chronic illness, you may wish to thank healthcare providers or caregivers who have gone above and beyond to help you during a difficult time.
  • History: Times are changing rapidly. You can tell your friends and family about the different periods in history in which you lived and how they impacted you. If you lived through a war or were involved in or witnessed certain historical events, your loved ones will cherish your memories of those times because they are part of what molded you as a person. Writing down your memories will also leave an important historical record for the next generation.
  • Goodbyes: Your obituary can be a wonderful way for you to say goodbye to friends and family members who may not live near you and are unlikely to be present when you pass away. As sad as it seems, it’s invaluable for those who are important to you to know that you have thought of them and have made an effort to express your affection.

Where Should You Store Your Obituary?

If it’s important to you for loved ones to publish the obituary you’ve prepared, you need to take steps to ensure that it’s preserved and stored properly. The obituary you’ve written can simply be incorporated as part of your Remembrance and Services Memorandum. A Remembrance and Services Memorandum is an important estate planning document designed to provide guidance to your family members, trustee, and personal representative about who to notify when you pass away, how your remains should be handled, your wishes for your memorial service or funeral, as well as the information that should be included in your obituary—or the obituary itself. You should store the original version of the Remembrance and Services Memorandum containing your obituary in the same safe location as your other estate planning documents, i.e. a fireproof safe. Be sure to let your family, personal representative, and trustee know where your documents are stored, and keep a copy for yourself.

We Can Help

Writing your own obituary in advance can provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ll be remembered in the way you wish. It also enables you to provide your family, friends, and acquaintances with a final message of love. In addition, it will relieve your family members of this task during an emotionally difficult time.
Please give us a call to set up a meeting so we can help you create a Remembrance and Services Memorandum that includes your obituary, as well as the other important estate planning documents you need, so you can rest assured that your family members and loved ones will receive all the emotional, spiritual, and monetary gifts you intend.

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