One of several essential estate planning documents that we all should have is a Last Will and Testament. The Last Will and Testament is a document that specifies how a person wishes to distribute their assets, money and property upon their demise. But before a bereaved family deals with the probate of a loved one's estate, they generally first make arrangements for some type of memorial or funeral service. In the days of old, funeral services commonly allowed for three days of viewing in order to allow family and friends sufficient opportunity to visit the funeral home and pay their last respects. Over time the three days became two days and now may even be only one day for viewing and paying last respects. Unfortunately one or two days with specific times for viewing, results in many people not being able to attend due to time and health restrictions. However, modern day technology and innovation have proffered a solution to this problem.
A select few funeral homes now offer a "drive thru window" for people to pay their last respects without even getting out of their car. Where such service is featured in states such as California and Tennessee, people drive up in their car and first sign in on an Ipad. After signing in, they pull their car up to a large window through which they have approximately three minutes to view the deceased and pay their last respects. While some welcome such an innovation, others find it countermands the main purpose of paying last respects. That is to personally visit with the bereaved to comfort and support them in their time of sorrow. Further, that although people attend wakes and funerals to pray for the deceased, the comforting aspect of the visit undeniably is for the beloved family and friends. It is hard to imagine how the same show of love and support can be achieved through a window from one's car.
Another modern feature that is becoming available is the live webcast of memorial and funeral services. This purportedly allows people to pay their last respects without even leaving their homes. While some people believe this feature affords those that are infirmed or otherwise completely unavailable an opportunity to take part in some way, many believe it unfortunately offers others an excuse for not making a personal appearance. Further, that there just is no substitute for in person consolation.
Are we all becoming victims of modern day technology? It seems that the more technologically advanced we become, the less we leave our homes or even get off the couch. Children no longer frequent playing with friends outdoors and instead play video games together from their own separate houses without even seeing each other. Movies are brought to our televisions without the need to go to the theater, food is delivered to our door without going to a restaurant and banking is performed without even going to the bank . While many of these advancements are very convenient and make life easier, perhaps their are still some things in life that are better served in person. So before we all surrender to a life filled with flying cars, robotics and total automation, let's remember to never underestimate the importance of human intervention and contact.
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.