Final Wishes

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by LegalZoom Staff
updated May 02, 2022 ·  3min read

In addition to a living will and a last will and testament, you may want to create another document that inform your family of certain things that you wish to have done. This can be accomplished with a Statement of Desires and Location of Property & Documents. It may not be a legally binding document, but at a minimum, it is a statement of your wishes and other information that you hope your family will follow.

In the event of death, many people have certain desires regarding the type of funeral, final interment, and other matters that cannot be taken care of in a will. A will may not be discovered until after burial, so it would do no good to include funeral and final interment instructions in your will.

Another thing that can be done with such a document is to give your family members important information that will assist them in taking care of your estate. The following matters may be included:

  • the location of your will;
  • a list of your assets;

Note: It is not always easy for the person handling your estate to find everything that you own, especially things like stocks, bonds and similar investments. Things stored somewhere other than at your home, such as a coin collection in a safe-deposit box, a boat at a docking facility, a recreational vehicle in a storage lot, furniture at a self-storage company, etc., are often difficult to locate. Your list should include a detailed description of the item and where it is located.

  • a list of your life insurance policies, including the name, address and telephone number of the insurance company (and of your insurance agent), and the policy number;
  • a list of relatives, friends and any other people you would like to be notified of your death (include their names, addresses and telephone numbers);
  • any desires you may have regarding the education and upbringing of your minor children;
  • provisions for the custody and care of pets. You do not want your pets to go unfed while you are in the hospital, so be sure you discuss pet care with the relative or friend who will be notified in the event of an emergency. If you would like to make sure your pet will be cared for after your death, you can do so under your last will by leaving a specific sum of money to a trust that will be created for your pet after you pass away.  In your last will, you can name someone to act as the trustee of the "pet trust" and that person will be in charge of using the funds for your pet’s benefit for the pet's lifetime.  
  • instructions regarding your funeral (this should include information about any cemetery plot you may own; any prepaid funeral plan; whether you want a traditional burial, burial at sea, cremation, etc.; and, any personal desires, such as the type of music you want played. You may specify a lavish funeral or state that you wish the least expensive burial in order to save assets for your heirs.).

In order for such a document to be of any use, it must be in a place where it can easily be found by a family member. Therefore, it is not a good idea to put it in your safe-deposit box. Once the bank finds out about your death, it may seal your safe-deposit box and only permit it to be opened with a court order. Because it takes time to obtain a court order, it may be well after the funeral that the contents of the safe-deposit box become available.

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This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.