Have You Given Thought to Your Funeral Wishes?

13th January 2020Manisha Chauhan0

Did you know that you can include your funeral wishes in your Will? Many people are of the belief that the purpose of having a Will is to name guardians to look after your children, split residue to your loved one (or charity in some instances) and to make specific gifts, naming but a few.

A Will deals with more than you may realise. However, it is important to add that any funeral wishes in the Will are not legally binding as your executor will be the one to make arrangements for your funeral. However, if instructions are left with them, it is likely that any funeral wishes you make will be respected. Family are also likely to feel very assured that the funeral arranged for you was in accordance with your wishes.

What options do you have?

  • Buried
  • Cremated
  • Woodland burial

Woodland burials are something which are becoming more and more popular. A woodland burial is essentially an environmentally friendly option to the normal burial and cremation. The body is not embalmed and takes place in natural burial grounds. A biodegradable coffin is used and is normally made from recycled paper, willow or wicker.

Instead of a headstone, the burial is normally identified by flowers or a tree. Many burial grounds also have a map so family can visit the site of the deceased.

Essentially the instructions you leave for your funeral can be very detailed or quite brief as this is very much dependant on your wishes. Some may express the wish to be cremated and their ashes to be scattered in a particular area and some may wish for a particular service.

Here are some factors you should consider:-

  • whether you wish to be cremated or buried
  • where your funeral should be held
  • where you want to be buried
  • where you would like your ashes to be scattered
  • whether you want flowers or donations at your funeral
  • how attendees should dress at your funeral
  • whether there will be any music


If you would like to leave quite detailed instructions for your funeral, it would be best to set this out in a separate letter of wishes and have the Will simply state whether you wish to be buried or cremated. Whilst a letter of wishes is not a legally binding document, an advantage of this document is that it does not need to take a particular form and can be amended at any time providing it is signed by you.

Unique Funerals

Attending a funeral can be quite a sad affair where people are expected to wear black dress clothes or dark coloured clothing.

For some this is not how they want their send off to be and it is known for there to have been some rather strange requests. The most common request is for people not to wear black or instead come dressed in bright clothes, fancy dress and one Glastonbury fan even requested that everyone who attended his funeral to wear wellies to celebrate his love for the Glastonbury festival. Let’s look at some more examples:

  • Tupac Shakur – he was one of the most famous and influential rap artists. After his death his friends mixed some of his ashes with marijuana and smoked them.
  • Abraham Lincoln – after his assassination, his body was sent by train from Washington DC to Springfield Illinois making stops along the way for people to pay their respects.
  • Genghis Khan – it is thought that his funeral procession carried his body back to Mongolia, slaughtering anyone they met along the way so his final resting place remained secret. It was alleged that soldiers killed everyone present at his funeral and were then killed themselves.
  • Alexander the Great – Alexander died in Babylon and requested that his body be thrown into the Euphrates River
  • Evel Knievel – his funeral was held in a stadium that could seat 17,000 people and also involved fireworks.
  • Frank Sinatra – his funeral took place in Beverley Hills with around 100 photographers and 1000 onlookers. At the end of the funeral his friends placed a bottle of whiskey, a zippo lighter and ten dimes into the casket.


You may decide you are more than happy to leave the decision to your loved ones which is perfectly fine. Alternatively, you may be influenced by some of the “out of the box” funeral ideas above and start to plan a “wild and wacky” funeral so you can leave this world in the best way you possibly can.

In reality the funeral may be carried out before the Will is even retrieved in most instances so please also let your closest family members aware of your funeral wishes so these can be followed.

Manisha Chauhan

Manisha joined the Society’s Technical Advice Team in July 2019 having previously worked as an Employment Solicitor in Warwickshire before relocating to Lincolnshire. Manisha provides advice on technical queries for Society Members and ongoing support on our professional drafting software, Sure Will Writer.

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