If you find the prospect of developing your estate plan depressing, the thought of writing your own obituary may sound particularly morbid. However, this has become an increasingly common exercise for people of all ages. Therapists and writing teachers use it.
It can help people set goals for what they want to accomplish in their lives and look back on things they’ve done that bring them special pride.
The practical advantages
Writing your own obituary can be a valuable part of estate planning – not just for you but for your loved ones. On a practical level, it gives them one less thing to do at a time when they’ll be grieving and consumed with numerous other responsibilities.
You should keep a copy with your other estate planning documents. However, you also want to make it easy to find after you’re gone and let the right people know about it – and where it is.
Remember that obituaries typically are published within days after death so that they can provide details about the funeral. Having the bulk of the obituary already written can save family time and stress – and help ensure that you get the final word on who you were.
It lets you shape your legacy and clarify your priorities
Writing your own obituary can help you shape how you’re remembered. The people and things that have been important to you might not be what others – even those closest to you – think they are.
Another advantage of writing your obituary as you delve into estate planning is that it can be a reminder of what’s important to you. Maybe you’ll decide that you’d like to leave a large part of your estate to some favorite charitable organizations. Perhaps you’ll remember that you never did take that trip back to your grandparents’ village, so it might be time to start planning for that while you’re still healthy.
Of course, by writing your own obituary, you can update it as you accomplish some of the things on your “bucket list” or as your interests and priorities change.
If you already have an estate plan in place, writing your own obituary may prompt you to change some of your provisions to better align with your values and the legacy you want to leave. With sound legal guidance, estate plan changes can be relatively simple.