Should you write your own obituary?

Creating a will or an estate plan is essential for everyone, especially if you are retired or nearing retirement age. However, it can be a difficult topic to discuss with your family. Getting older brings with it some hard questions, including what should happen to your estate after your death and while you are still living.

As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” This is especially true when creating an estate plan. Proper planning ensures your assets are transferred to the beneficiaries of your choice. Grandparents may want to set up a trust for their grandchildren, or want a portion of the estate donated to a favorite charity.

There are four elements to consider when writing your estate plan:  creating a will and/or trust, choosing someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated, establishing your beneficiaries, and setting up a power of attorney or trustee to manage your financial affairs.

Some people want to have the final say in how they will be remembered, which is why they write their own obituary and include it in their estate plan. But should you write your own obituary?

Finding motivation

Why write your own obituary? Because it gives you control over the narrative; it’s a great opportunity to tell your story. You can include the details of your choosing about your life and how you lived it. You can include heartfelt messages to family and friends and final words of wisdom to your children and grandchildren. 

For some, writing their own obituary is difficult because it brings them face to face with the truth of their own mortality. Instead, make it a working document that you can edit throughout your life adding new accomplishments, insights, and experiences.

Don’t do everything yourself though

Writing your own obituary is very personal, something that you alone can create to let those who you leave behind know who you really were – your values, how you lived your life, what things brought you happiness. 

However, trying to create an estate plan on your own can end up being a financial nightmare for both you and your beneficiaries after you die. It may be tempting to go it alone believing it’s a way to cut costs, but crafting an estate plan requires numerous legal documents including wills, trusts, POAs, and healthcare directives. The possibility of making a mistake is serious and will cost more in the long run.

Take a few minutes to review our blog addressing common problems with DIY living trusts.