When someone passes away, their surviving family members will become responsible for all the decisions — financial and otherwise — regarding their funeral and their estate. This is why planning, writing a will, and naming an executor are so essential for everyone, regardless of age.
“It’s so important that you have a will and you put somebody in charge of your estate,” says Drew Kent, co-owner and funeral director at Croxford Funeral Home & Crematory in Great Falls. “It’s more than just property. It’s the right over everything. So you want to make sure you designate somebody who can speak for you once you’ve passed away.”
Kent wants families to know, too, that a Power of Attorney becomes obsolete once someone has passed away. “This is why it’s absolutely imperative to have a will in place,” he adds.
1. Who Should I Leave in Charge?
Choosing an executor for your will is obviously a major decision, so think carefully about who you can trust with the responsibility.
“It can be your family, or it doesn’t have to be. It can be a friend, a cousin, a niece, a nephew, whoever you want it to be,” Kent says. “It’s just important to have someone lined up who will follow your will and act on the requests you documented to close your estate.”
2. Who is Financially Liable for My Funeral?
The executor you've designated is responsible for making sure your funeral is paid for and all your accounts are closed, but they're not personally liable. Your closest living relatives, or next of kin, will be financially responsible — starting with a spouse, then children, parents, and siblings, in that order.
3. How Can I Help My Family be Prepared?
The best way to ensure a smooth process and help your family avoid any financial burden is simply to be proactive. You should have a will with an executor, power of attorney, and a pre-planned funeral. If possible, you should pay for the funeral in full in advance, or set up a payment plan.
“You should have peace of mind knowing you have everything complete, and when that time comes, you have it all taken care of,” Kent says. “If you leave it to your family to take care of, who knows what can happen?”
Mourning a loved one is already so difficult, and when people are in grief, they tend to overspend and have trouble making rational decisions. Funeral homes are not lending agencies and can't extend credit, so the responsibility will fall to your family.
Remember that designating an executor means your family knows in advance who is responsible for key decisions, and a will tells them exactly what your wishes are — so they won’t be left scrambling trying to determine what you would have wanted. Pre-arranging and pre-paying for a funeral is the ultimate way to remove the stress and alleviate the financial burden so that when the time comes, your family can focus on what’s most important: honoring their loved one’s memory.
Croxford Funeral Home & Crematory creates personalized services to best honor your loved ones. Their staff members are the leading funeral experts in the Great Falls area. For more information, call (406) 453-0315 or visit CroxfordFuneralHome.com.
1307 Central Ave
Great Falls, MT 59401
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