Who can you trust when you can’t trust your family? Do you have a journal or private letters that should be destroyed upon your passing before your family can see them? Is there someone who should hear critical or devastating news, but not until after your death? What should you do?
Upon our death, our secrets die with us – or so we like to think. Coffin confessors are a relatively new phenomenon in which people hire someone to listen to their final confessions and then share them with loved ones after they’ve passed away. The idea is that, by revealing long-held secrets, we can provide closure for both ourselves and our loved ones. However, there are some potential drawbacks to this practice. First, it can be expensive to hire a coffin confessor, and second, there’s no guarantee that your secrets will remain confidential, or that your wishes will be carried out the way you wanted them to. On the other hand, an estate planning attorney can help ensure your exact wishes will in fact be carried out.
The “Coffin Confessor”.
Australian private investigator, Bill Edgar, claims to be “the coffin confessor” as he carries out the after-death wishes of his deceased clients. Before their passing, clients come to Bill with different requests that vary from delivering shocking news to family members to destroying private items from their homes.
Clients enter into agreements with Bill to fulfill personal tasks, many of which they avoided during their lifetime. Bill’s journey began in a conversation with a terminally ill man who asked Bill to attend his funeral and interrupt his best friend’s eulogy. Bill did just that and soon after, his business began.
Many of Bill’s clients come to him in hopes of revealing details of their lives that they did not have the opportunity or heart to share before death. When isolated in their final days, their ability to communicate delicate information to their loved ones – or not so loved ones – was limited. He has been directed to announce affairs, reveals sources of fortunes, announce surprise inheritances, and expose family secrets. He has removed elaborate adult toys from homes and arranged for coffins to project screaming sounds as they are lowed into the ground.
Coffin Confessor vs. Estate Planning.
Though many Australians enjoy Bill’s services, many core issues that drive people to him can be fully addressed through comprehensive estate planning. A complete estate plan can include the creation of a trust to protect your assets, a will to guide courts in determining your testamentary intent, and critical documents to guide medical professionals and family members in fulfilling your needs. A complete estate plan should include documents to handle your medical and financial affairs during your incapacity and upon your passing. Creating the following documents can help you address many of the problems Bill’s client sought to avoid (through less dramatic measures):
- A HIPAA Release Form is a document that must be signed by a patient before their protected health information can be revealed to other family or non-family members. This document allows doctors to speak with your family during a period of incapacitation.
- A Health Care Power of Attorney is an extensive document that allows you to spell out your end-of-life care ahead of time. Powers of attorney allow for detailed, binding instructions. Preparing this document eliminates any doubt that grieving family members may have about your wishes. Oregon uses the Advance Directive to accomplish this goal.
- An Appointment of Person to Make Decisions Concerning Disposition of Remains is a document that provides instructions on what should happen to your body after death and who is authorized to carry out your instructions regarding your remains.
- A General Durable Power of Attorney legally authorizes another person to make decisions about your personal property and finances during your lifetime.
Neglecting to prepare a thorough estate plan and leaving important decisions or instructions up to a stranger can serve to strip you from your freedom to choose or result in hurt or confusion within your family. Instead, make a thorough plan and leave clear instructions to be carried out on your passing. It may be less exciting, but it will ensure your wishes are fully honored.
Your Local Estate Planning Firm
Located in Salem, Oregon, our estate planning firm takes great pride in our sincere desire to understand your needs and those of your family to provide workable solutions. Our team is dedicated to helping you through each process of estate planning or estate administration. We develop long-term relationships with all of our clients and take great pride in providing a warm and calming environment.
To learn how Collier Law can help with the complexities of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other advanced estate planning techniques, schedule your complimentary estate planning consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
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