Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How a Modern Day Lawyer Views Charles Dickens' Will

Rarely does a day pass when I do not find an interesting article posted on a favorite blog of mine.  Written by Professor Gerry W. Beyer, Wills, Trusts, and Estates Prof Blog contains a vast amount of technical, light, and whimsical material related to illness, death and taxes.

Today I read an interesting post about the last paragraph of Charles Dickens' will.  Apparently the famous author had no desire for an expensive or over the top funeral -- a simple, private, and discreet burial was desired.

Oh how times have changed.  Today no lawyer would allow a client to write burial instructions into a will.  Why?  Wills are not instruments of speed, and once a final breath is exhaled, the modern day funeral process is speedy.

Here in Wisconsin, once a person has died, the power of attorney for health care ends.  Last breath, no authority exists under the document.  A will may appoint a Personal Representative, but that process can take several days if not weeks to complete.  And in that interim a funeral and burial occur.  My fix for clients is to give them Wisconsin's Authorization for Final Disposition form.  Created by the Department of Health Services, it is a free form that allows someone to nominate a person to be in charge of funeral and or burial as well as two back-ups.  In addition to naming names, directions can be given.  Cremation, burial, religious, non-religious, which cemetery, etc.

Dickens' literary work is timeless, but his will is a relic of the past.

No comments: