By Jason Stern
Jerry Moon passed away last week in the Seattle Washington area at the age of 72. At his memorial services Jerry’s family opened his casket to pay their final respects. Unfortunately the family of Jerry Moon did not find their beloved family member. Rather Jerry Moon’s family found the body of a 97-year old stranger with a bag over his head, dressed in Jerry’s clothes.
Obviously this is any family’s worst nightmare. However things went from bad to worse when they learned that not only was Jerry’s body mixed up with this 97-year old stranger but Jerry’s body was cremated against all of his last wishes.
The funeral parlor claims they mixed up the bodies and the wishes of the 97-year old with the body of Jerry Moon.
So how can this be prevented?
As a NY estate lawyer I have come to adopt the principle of advanced preparation in all aspects of estate planning. This includes both burial and funeral arrangements. If you think about it logically, the more of our affairs that are pre-arranged the smoother the transition will be for our loved one’s if and when the time comes.
For example, we all know that a properly executed will drafted by a NY estate lawyer is a great place to begin planning your estate. However, funeral arrangements are also an important part of the estate planning process and are often overlooked until the last minute.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed, meaning the more preparations we can get out of the way today the fewer chances of mishaps occurring in the future. Now in the instance above it is quite obvious to me as a NY estate lawyer and as a human being, this funeral parlor did something very wrong. I am positive that the estate for Jerry Moon is currently retaining an attorney seeking legal damages for this mishap.
As a NY estate lawyer practicing 3,000 miles away from Jerry Moon’s funeral I have no idea if Jerry Moon’s affairs were in order or not prior to his death. And if his affairs were not in order, there is still no excuse for the funeral home’s actions in this instance. However any NY estate lawyer will tell you the more aspects of your affairs that are pre arranged the lesser the likelihood of mishaps like these and infighting amongst heirs.
Aside from bringing order to a chaotic time, pre planning funeral arrangements also has additional benefits. These benefits are three fold;
First Decedent gets to choose most or all of their arrangements while they are still alive tailoring them to their liking. This takes some of the guesswork and thinking out of the process for the family.
Second Most funeral homes allow you to pay all or any portion of your funeral off today at today’s prices. This is an advantageous hedge against any and all inflationary spikes in costs, which are inevitable in this sector. Additionally pre paid plans will allow you to transfer your account to any other funeral home within a vast network of funeral homes in case of geographical changes or preferences.
Third Most importantly all arrangements are made well in advance so there is less strain on the family allowing them to grieve in peace without forcing them to make difficult business decisions when they are must vulnerable.
Should you or a loved one wish to sit down with a NY estate lawyer about getting their affairs in order, please feel free to call the Law Offices of Jason W. Stern & Associates for a free consultation at (718) 261-2444. Our NY estate lawyers have nearly 45 years of combined NY estate law experience drafting and probating the wills for families like yours in the counties of Queens, New York, Kings, Bronx, Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, Orange and Dutchess.