Writing Your Own Obituary as an Addition to Your Estate Plan

An obituary can be much more than just a dry announcement of your death and the time and location of your funeral or memorial service. It can be a way to share your life story, provide information about significant events and people, and remind others of important values. Writing your obituary does not have to be left to grieving family members after you pass away. Instead, it can be an important part of your estate planning that you can do today.

Estate Planning Isn’t Just about Money and Property

Wills and trusts are common tools in estate planning for transferring your assets and belonging. But money and property are not the only forms of wealth you have accumulated over your lifetime. You have many stories, lessons, experiences, and values to share. You may also want to acknowledge influential family members, teachers, mentors, and other people who have played an important part in your life. Your obituary can be an excellent means of sharing this other wealth.

What Should You Include?

Because your obituary is all about you, you can emphasize any aspects of your life you wish. There is no correct format, so you are free to tell your story in the way you feel most comfortable, showcasing your personality. Here are a few ideas to consider.

Important life events: If you would 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 is likely that friends and family members can benefit from your experiences. You can include these lessons in your obituary if you choose so they will also be available to a wider audience.

Gratitude: You can use your obituary to express gratitude to the people who have played an important and beneficial role in your life. If you are 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, some of whom that may not live near you and may not be present when you pass away. As sad as it seems, it is invaluable for those who are important to you to know that you have thought of them and wish to express your affection.

Where Should You Store It?

If it is important to you for loved ones to publish the obituary you have prepared, you need to take steps to ensure that it is preserved and stored properly. The obituary you have 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 executor 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. Be sure to let your family, executor, and trustee know where your important documents are stored.

We Can Help

Writing your own obituary in advance can provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you will 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. Schedule a meeting with us so we can help you create a Remembrance and Services Memorandum that includes your obituary, as well as other important estate planning documents you need. You can then rest assured that your family members and loved ones will receive all the emotional, spiritual, and monetary gifts you intend.