Estate planning isn’t just about money. There’s a deeply personal side to the process that goes beyond your wishes for your estate. For one, there’s the issue of what will happen to your remains.
A case in point is the estate of the automotive legend Carroll Shelby, famous for designing the high-performance Ford Shelby Mustang.
Shelby’s seventh wife and his children were involved in a dispute regarding how he should be laid to rest. His wife Cleo wanted to see him buried, but his children stated that he wanted to be cremated. Shelby was finally cremated after the family reached a settlement.
If you live in Ohio, you can make sure that your own wishes are carried out by making an official legal document known as the Right of Disposition. The law authorizing this legal document was recently enacted, and is not widely known.
The Right of Disposition instrument appoints a person as the official decision maker about matters such as your burial or cremation, where your final remains will be laid to rest, your funeral and burial arrangements, and your autopsy. The document can also specify the source of funds to pay for these services and merchandise. However, the document is not an official place to state your wishes. You must communicate your desires in another fashion to the Personal Representative you appoint under the Right of Disposition.
It’s important to note that under an Ohio Right of Disposition, your family cannot override the Personal Representative’s decisions. This makes the Right of Disposition an ideal addition to estate plans for unmarried persons; same sex couples or couples living together who are not married, people in a second marriage where one or both spouses have separate children; for those in families where there is tension among the children; or in families where the children do not adhere to the strong religious preferences of the parents.
Other states have similar laws. Check with a qualified estate planning lawyer in your state.
The emotional upheaval to your family upon your passing should not be compounded by conflicts over your final remains. Adding this simple document to your estate plan could be a blessing to those you love.