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Myths and FAQs: Planning Your Last Goodbye

Posted by Mona O'Connor | Mar 06, 2024 | 0 Comments

Myths and Frequently Asked Questions

In Loving Memory: Planning Your Last Goodbye


Myth 1: My family is required to hold a funeral for me when I die.

False. While many people choose to have a funeral or celebration of life, it is not a requirement. Whether you want a funeral or not, it is important to let your loved ones know so they can honor your wishes. Although it may be a difficult conversation, letting your loved ones know your wishes can save them time, money, and stress during an emotionally difficult time. If a conversation is too difficult to consider, then you can express your wishes in writing or in a video recording. Just make sure your loved ones will be able to find the writing or recording upon your passing.

Myth 2: A funeral or celebration of life will be cheap; I don't need to worry about paying for it.

In 2021, the average cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial was around $7,848.[1] However, in the Chicagoland area, a funeral and burial may cost as much as $15,000.  Although the expense is usually paid out of what you own at your death, your loved ones may have to foot the bill initially and get reimbursed at a later date. This may be difficult for some people to afford on short notice.

If you feel strongly about having a funeral or celebration of life, it would be wise to make arrangements so that your loved ones do not need to worry about the cost while they are still processing their loss.

Question 1: Is there a way to require my family to honor my wishes?

Every state is different. There are many different ways to document your end-of-life wishes. When it comes to what you would like to have happen with your body, you may be able to include this information in an existing estate planning document such as your last will and testament, health care power of attorney, or advance directive. When it comes to details about your funeral or celebration of life, even though your instructions may not be legally enforceable, it is always a good idea to let your loved ones know what you want. If you do not provide this information to them, they will be left to figure it out themselves while they are mourning. Further, there may be conflict if your loved ones disagree about what you would have wanted.

Question 2: What are some ways that I can personally say goodbye to my loved ones?

One way you can say goodbye to your loved ones is to write a letter that is stored with the rest of your estate planning documents. You may choose to write one letter to all of your friends and family, or you may choose to write a separate letter for each person. This would allow you to personalize the message for each individual.


If writing is not for you, or if you feel more comfortable speaking, you could record a video. As with writing a letter, you could record one message for all of your loved ones, or you could record a video for each loved one. This may allow you to express things more clearly and convey the true depth of your message.

For a PDF version, please click here or visit the “Resources” tab from our website.

[1] Lena Borrelli, Average Funeral Cost, Bankrate (July 3, 2023),

About the Author

Mona O'Connor

Mona L. O'Connor joined the firm in 2008 and is currently a partner with O'Connor Law Offices. She is a J.D., C.P.A. and her primary areas of practice include estate planning and trust administration.


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