Why You Should Complete an Authorization for Disposition Form

In one of the episodes of ‘Game of Thrones,’ they host a funeral for Hoster Tully, head of House Tully of Riverrun.  Tully’s body is put on a small raft and pushed out onto the river while his family watches solemnly.  As his corpse drifts with the current, an archer shoots a flaming arrow at the raft, which instantly bursts into flames.  Tully’s burning funeral pyre then floats off into the sunset.

Other than needing four arrows to ignite the raft, I told my wife that’s exactly how I want my funeral to be.  I was blessed to grow up and still live on the Fox River, so this kind of funeral would be perfect for me.  It would be pretty bad for my family because it violates so many laws, but it would be perfect for me.

To be sure no one forgets my exact wishes for my funeral, I completed a Wisconsin Authorization for Disposition form.

This form, which was created in 2008, allows me to designate a Representative, or someone authorized to carry out my funeral wishes.  Without this form, Wisconsin law dictates that these decisions would be left to my heirs (spouse, then kids, then parents, then siblings, etc.).  If I have multiple children, my arrangements would be made by a majority of them.  So, completing this form allows me to choose someone other than by default, plus it avoids having my arrangements being put to a vote.

In addition to naming who it is I want to carry out my final wishes, the Authorization for Final Disposition form allows me to spell out exactly what those wishes are.  Some people want a traditional funeral and burial.  Others opt for a private family ceremony and to be cremated.  Finally, others don’t want any service at all.

You can spell out religious preferences, family traditions, or other wishes you might have.  The form allows you to get very detailed, including giving your loved ones insight as to how to pay for your service.

For example, in addition to the flaming archer shooting my funeral pyre as I drift down the Fox River, I want ‘Amazing Grace’ from the ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ soundtrack playing, just like at Spock’s funeral.  I would like my fantasy football buddies to be my pallbearers, and have one of them read Psalm 23 (“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”).  Finally, I want Butch’s pizza served at the luncheon.

Talking about funerals can be hard.  If you aren’t comfortable going to a funeral home and preplanning your funeral and burial, at least try to complete an Authorization for Final Disposition, which can be found here:  https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/forms/advdirectives/index.htm

To be valid, you simply need to sign it in front of a notary or two witnesses.  And come to my funeral.  After all, where else could you shoot a flaming arrow at a lawyer while eating the world’s most delicious pizza?

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Reg P. Wydeven

Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney at McCarty Law LLP
Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps from a young age, Reg’s practice primarily consists of advising individuals on estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. As Reg represents clients in matters like guardianship proceedings and long-term care admissions, he feels grateful to be able to offer families thorough legal help in their time of need.

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