Should I specify my wishes for a Memorial Service or Celebration of Life?

Janis Joplin’s Story

Beloved rock and blues singer Janis Joplin of a drug overdose at the age of 27 in 1970. In her will, which she had revised just two days before her death, she left $2,500 to pay for an all-night celebration of her life at her favourite pub in San Anselmo, California, “so my friends can get blasted after I’m gone.”

Lawyer’s Comment: Including in your will your wishes about a Memorial Service or Celebration of Life is something you can do to help your executor and your family at a difficult time. Do not assume that “they will know what I want,” or that family members will agree on the type of funeral or even whether to have one. Spelling things out in your will can really reduce stress. While many people say they want “no service,” please keep in mind that a memorial gathering of some kind is an important part of the grieving process for most people, whether or not it is religious.

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