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Why Pirates Wore Earrings

By Nikki Marie Oliveira

It is well known (at least by most estate planners and elder law attorneys), that pirates wore earrings for more than just fashion.  The original purpose of gold hoops was a means of security to pay for a pirate’s burial, especially if he washed ashore.  Apparently, the earrings usually had the pirate’s name and home town etched into the surface, so he could be identified and returned home, if possible.  Nowadays, the average cost of a funeral exceeds $8,000 and the average pair of earrings certainly would not even come close to covering that bill, even with the price of gold rising dramatically in recent years.

With this burden in mind, you may want to consider getting your affairs in order and pre-paying for your funeral so you don’t leave your loved ones scrambling.  Here are five important things to think about so you can plan ahead:

  1. Burial v. Cremation.  Some people choose not to consider this and others have strong feelings of preference one way or the other.  Often, clients who choose cremation would like their ashes spread in a specific location.  This is a very personal matter and you may choose to include your wishes in your will.
  2. Pay Ahead.  You can purchase a burial plot, a headstone or marker and can even arrange to pre-pay for your funeral while you are still living.  It is arguably best to do this when you’re healthy so you can get it over with and have peace of mind knowing that your family will not have to deal with this while they are busy grieving for your loss.  It also gives you the opportunity to make the choices that you would like for your casket and burial location.
  3. Obituaries.  I have seen some autobiographical obituaries and it is an interesting concept.  After you pass, your loved ones will probably want to publish a brief summary of your life for those you have left behind.  Perhaps this is something that you’d like to take charge of to lessen the burden on your loved ones while they’re grieving your departure.  If you’re not committed to writing your entire obituary, maybe leave some notes with your end-of-life documents regarding information that you’d like to include.
  4. Celebrate Your Life.  Think about your wishes for the celebration of your life after you pass.  Some clients have very specific ideas for how they would like their loved ones to mark their passing.  You can get as detailed as you like, as far as your personality permits, even going as far to include the hymns you wish to be sung at your funeral mass or the songs to be played at a gathering post-burial.
  5. Think outside the box.  In Massachusetts, it is now possible to donate your body to science with the Anatomical Gift Act.  (Check out this article regarding the recently revised law).  Perhaps this is something you feel passionate about, especially furthering research and advances in medicine, and would like to explore your options.

Planning ahead for the unknown will provide your loved ones with peace of mind that they will be taken care of when you’re gone.  This may be very important to you.  If so, don’t hesitate to take the steps to get your affairs in order!  If you want to speak to an estate planning attorney about these issues, please call our firm and we’d be happy to answer your questions.

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