FINAL ARRANGMENT PLANNING: CRITICAL FOR LGBT COUPLES, UNMARRIED COUPLES AND SINGLE PERSONS

June 10, 2013

Baby boomers are planners. Over our lifetimes we have engaged in family planning, financial planning, retirement planning and estate planning. To the extent possible, we want control. We want to protect the people who depend upon us; make things easier for them.

Often overlooked in all of this planning is a plan for the event of death. Upon a death, many decisions must be made quickly. The decision maker may be grieving and vulnerable.

Having a plan can be a tremendous help. It can reduce stress, prevent conflict, save money and will provide assurance that the arrangements made are exactly what you wanted. Here are a few of the decisions that will need to be made for all of us, rich or poor:

1. Do you want to be buried? If so, where? Cremated? What is to be done with your ashes?

2. Do you want a traditional funeral? A memorial service? Or a celebration of life service? Who is to officiate? Who should attend? Is there anyone who should not be included? Any special preferences or instructions? What about a reception afterward?

3. Where will your body be taken? Who will provide the services you want and what specific services are desired? What is your budget for these services? Do you want to shop now, select and pre-pay for the services you want?

4. Do you want an obituary? If so, who will do it? What is to be included? Do you want to write it yourself? Is there a picture you want used? Do you want it published in the newspaper (can be expensive) or posted online and e-mailed.

5. Most importantly, who is to handle all of this? For some it may be a surviving spouse or child. But what about unmarried couples, same-sex couples or childless single adults?

ARS Section 36-831 has a listing of persons, in order of priority, who can make these decisions. But the person with statutory priority may not be your choice. ARS Section 32-1365.01 helps. It allows giving written instructions and the appointment of an agent you trust. Written instructions are critical where a life partner is the agent of choice. Or where a friend is the person you rely upon. Without written instructions, a person with statutory priority may make decisions that you do not want. A life partner or other important person can be marginalized or even excluded.

Planning for all of life's events, including the certain event of death, is an important way to continue to protect, help and honor loved ones--even after death. Let us know if we can assist you.