Beyond estate planning to “get your affairs in order,” there are practical matters you should consider attending to, such as how the disposition of your body will be handled. Many people leave these matters to their family members to handle.  Under Ohio law there is a priority of which family member is entitled to make these types of decisions.  They include (1) the spouse, (2) the sole surviving child, or all of the surviving children collectively – I doubt that could ever cause a problem – (3) surviving siblings, and then on down the line to more distant relatives. However, there are alternatives to leaving this type of decision to your family. If you have the calm and resolve to do so, you may want to consider preparing for your ultimate demise yourself.  If you have the resolve, you will need to make some important decisions, like who is going to handle these matters, and how do you want to handle the disposition of your body? Under Ohio law, an individual is not bound by the State’s predetermined list, but can instead execute a written declaration appointing a person of their choosing to handle the disposition of their body and to make other funeral arrangements. With this type of declaration an individual can name the person they want to handle their funeral arrangements, how they want their body disposed of after death, and any religious observances they would like followed. By deciding in advance of your death you can potentially save your family a considerable amount of money. Planning in advance of death allows you to make decisions that involve some very steep costs. If you “let the family decide” after death, then you will in most cases be forcing your family to make business decisions in a hurried situation during a time in which they are in a grief-stricken condition. This can be costly. If you intend to be buried, for example, you will want to select a cemetery. The costs of a burial space alone, comparing one cemetery to another, can be substantial. Some of these spaces will come with outer containers included, which is another significant cost of burial. This is a concrete outer container that a coffin is placed in to keep a coffin from rising up to the surface due to excessive amounts of water soaking the surrounding earth. As to the coffin itself and associated funeral expenses such as body preparation, clothes, transportation, police escort, chapel rental, honorarium for clergy, and flower and reception budget, costs can become exorbitant. If you have time to think it through and compare prices, you can better control the costs your estate will be pre-paying. Whether it is a funeral with a burial or a memorial service and cremation, planning ahead while alive places you in charge of the ultimate cost. You can even obtain a pre-need (meaning a contract arranged in advance of the need) funeral or cremation contract and pay for it all at once, on payments or finance it with an insurance policy. Regardless of what steps you take, making your wishes known by planning in advance will certainly save your family money, and more importantly will alleviate the stress of making important decisions during a very difficult and emotional time. Paul Kellogg is an attorney in Cincinnati with the Phillips Law Firm, Inc. Paul’s practice focuses on providing comprehensive estate planning and probate services to families and business owners, as well as serving as outside general counsel to entrepreneurs and businesses where he provides guidance and advice on a wide variety of transactions and disputes.  He can be reached at (513) 985-2500 or via email at P[email protected].   Please explore Paul’s other articles on estate planning and business on the Phillips Law Firm Blog page The article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Anyone contemplating taking legal action is urged to obtain proper legal advice from an attorney licensed in your particular jurisdiction.

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