Can I include funeral wishes in my Will?
As a Wills & Probate solicitor, I am frequently asked about funeral wishes, and whether a Will is the best place for these to be recorded.
The person or people you appoint as your executors are technically the ones responsible for arranging a funeral as they have ownership of the body. However, in practice, funerals are often arranged by family members not necessarily appointed as executors in the Will.
Funeral wishes can certainly be included within a Will. It is important to note, however, that firstly, funeral wishes are not legally binding. Secondly, family members may begin making arrangements for a funeral before the original Will has been found. It is therefore most important to ensure your loved ones would know whether you would prefer a burial or cremation, and any other specific wishes you may have. If you are going to put funeral wishes in your Will it is best to keep these brief, and any detailed wishes such as music choice, where the funeral should take place, whether you would like flowers or donations to charity and so on are best placed in a side letter of wishes which should be kept safely with your Will. This could be updated if your wishes change, without having to change your actual Will.
If you have arranged a pre-paid funeral plan, you should tell you executors and family about this, so they do not go to the expense of arranging a funeral while not knowing about the plan.
I also get asked about including wishes about organ donation in a Will. While these too can be included in a Will, it is incredibly likely that it will be too late to donate organs before the Will is obtained, so it is best to join the NHS organ donation register and make your relatives aware you have done this.