The idea of pre-planning a funeral or inquiring about the personal will of a loved one while they’re still alive may feel distasteful. Unfortunately, this conversation is both necessary to the security of your loved one’s plans and the alleviation of your own stress during a time of grieving. There are a good amount of things to consider in the event of a loved one’s death, and it’s important to know their desires in the event of their passing.

Firstly, ask your parent about the executor of their will and where it’s stored. If they need help drafting a new will, you will need to certify that they’re indeed sound of mind. Otherwise, the will may be void. After this, there are seven concrete steps to follow in the event of the creation of a personal will:

  1. Writing an introduction: they must provide information such as full name and address, social security number, birth date, and a statement that this will was written while they were of sound mind

  2. Choosing an executor of the will and backup executor in case the primary is unable to complete their duties

  3. Identification of heirs

  4. Identification of a guardian for minor or dependent children

  5. Division and assessment of property and assets

  6. Signing of the will

  7. Signing of the will by two witnesses

Secondly, you and your loved one will need to discuss their funeral plans. Though it’s common for funeral wishes to be placed within the will, this should not be their only location. In the event of a parent’s death, you will need to know their plans more quickly than tracking down the document may allow.

If a parent’s documents cannot be located, state law determines that their spouse, children, parents, next of kin, or finally a public administrator will choose what happens to their remains. To avoid any interfamilial conflict, it’s necessary to discuss funeral arrangements with spouses and family before the event of a death. With this in mind, ensure that your parent’s arrangements are copied and sent to their loved ones, executor of state, and an attorney.

Consider whether your parent will want just a funeral or memorial service, cremation or burial, or perhaps to donate their organs. Though these things can be difficult and upsetting to talk about, it will give survivors peace of mind knowing that a loved one’s last wishes were honored.