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Hello Lisa,
I believe I received a reply from you awhile back but my hard drive crashed recently. I now have a backup drive.
I'm single and in my late 50s and my older brother has agreed to be power of attorney and executor over my funeral and will. He is older than I and if he predeceases me, there are no other family or friends I would trust to administer my burial or disperse my belongings and assets properly to beneficiaries.
I plan on setting up a funeral trust instead of purchasing a funeral home plan, because I've heard that if a funeral home goes out of business, your plan can go out the door with it. Can I include my brother as power of attorney and executor in the same funeral trust my attorney would create and will I need a separate will for my brother to disperse my belongings to my named beneficiaries? In other words, can my funeral arrangements and my directions to direct my belongings to my beneficiaries be included in one trust or will?
Can I have the will or trust written to include an alternate person(s) or organization in event my brother passes away first, or will I have to pay to have a new will or trust created if my brother predeceases me?
What are your personal feelings in comparing funeral home plans to funeral trusts?

Thank you.


Let's simplify things. In TN you can name an agent for body disposition. Here's the law -- TC 34-6-204. Yes, name a back-up person in case he predeceases you.

Decide how much you'll need for your funeral and put that amount in a long-term CD with your brother and the other person's name on it, too. Your lawyer, maybe? There's no penalty for cashing in a CD at death, and a CD would be readily available funds.

Then write a will for your other assets with brother and back-up person as executor(s). If you have a lot of assets, you might want to look into a Living Trust to avoid Probate. There are several good books on "how to avoid probate" or check on-line. There are also other tax considerations that may or may not apply. For example, if you were planning to give a large sum to the local Humane Society, you could give your house now, reserving the right to live in it for the rest of your life. That gives you a big tax deduction right now. I'm not a lawyer or an accountant, so take these suggestions for what they're worth and check with your lawyer for additional information.


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Lisa Carlson


Funeral Law. Having written a 512-page book on funeral law for consumers with state-by-state information, I am very conversant with consumer rights in this regard: What are the laws on disposition of cremated remains? Is embalming required? Do I have to use a funeral home? Can I have a home wake? Is it a state law to buy a vault? I prepaid for a funeral but changed my mind. They won`t give me all my money back. What can I do? . . . If you have an immediate need for information because a death has just occurred or is about to occur, you may call me at 802-482-6021.


I have monitored the funeral industry on behalf of consumers for over 20 years. I have been a guest speaker to funeral trade organizations, consumer workshops, and social service professionals. I am regularly consulted by lawyers and legislators as well as journalists.

Funeral Ethics Organization ( Funeral Consumers Alliance (

Caring for Your Own Dead (1987) Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love (1998) I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch (2001) Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death (2011) with co-author Joshua Slocum

Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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