It’s been a minute since I’ve spent any time watching music videos, but I watched the video for the Taylor Swift song “Anti-hero” after reading this Seattle Times story about the casket in the video. Somewhat to my surprise, Taylor Swift makes a legitimate contribution to the otherwise sedate world of memorial instructions.

In the video, the music stops about halfway through the song and Swift’s music video family of imaginary adult children gather around her casket to read her will out loud in a scene that appears to be a funeral. First, a reminder that the reading of a will is not really a thing outside movies and popular culture. It is, however, a tried-and-true dramatic device for a reason: It creates drama. Here, the music video family at the will reading / memorial learns that Swift’s beach house will be a cat sanctuary and the children will inherit a whopping thirteen cents. One of the kids wonders aloud whether the will included a “secret encoded message that means something else.” The person reading the will then dryly reads a section that declares it is not a secret encoded message that means something else. Then, the music video family scene devolves into a brawl, and Swift steps from the casket and resumes singing.

Did the version of Taylor Swift who left her beach house to a cat sanctuary in the song provide instructions for her music video family to read her will at her memorial service? Perhaps. If Swift was a Washington resident, how could she have accomplished this?

In real life, estate planning documents frequently include memorial instructions. RCW 68.50.160 sets forth the requirements for a person in Washington to execute a document directing the manner of disposition for their own remains. In addition to addressing the manner in which a person would like their remains to be handled, memorial instructions can also include a person’s wishes for what they would like to include in their funeral or memorial service and instructions for where they would like their remains to be scattered, if a person chooses a method other than burial.

Do you have questions about instructions to include in memorial instructions? We’re happy to chat.

This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.

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