Putting as many details as possible into your Will and stating your wishes in the most articulate manner can spare your successors the distress of sorting out what you have left behind at death. It can also help answer immediate questions such as whether you wish to be buried or cremated, or where you wish to be laid to rest.
If there are no clear wishes, the Executor or nearest relative will usually make such decisions. However, in cases where family may not agree, this can sometimes prove to be a challenging consideration.
Pamela Hamilton, a Jamaican-born UK resident and a 54 year old mother of three children, passed away on 14 July 2011. Eleven months later, her body has still not been buried because she did not specify where she wished to be laid to rest in her Will.
In her Will Pamela named two Executors; one in Bristol where she was raised and one in London where she had put down roots. However, failure to specify where she wanted to be buried and subsequent disagreements between her family and Executors about the burial location caused a lengthy and costly legal dispute that left her body in the mortuary for almost a year. In addition, further difficulties have also stalled the application for the Grant of Probate needed for the release of Pamela's property, valued at several hundred thousand pounds.
Fortunately, the dispute was finally resolved last week and Pamela's body was brought back to her mother in Easton where she could be laid to rest at Stoke Park Cemetery next to her sister. Whilst this was her mum's wish, Pamela's London-based family and friends believed she should have been buried in the capital where she had raised family, studied, worked and spent the second half of her life.
Perhaps not an everyday occurence but we can say for certain that in this case it would have saved both money, time and heartache for all concerned if Pamela had only written down her wishes in her Will.