Although writing an obituary isn’t a requirement when someone dies, it is a common way to inform others about a recent death.

We all meet many different people throughout our lifetimes, and family members aren’t always able to personally inform everyone the deceased knew of their passing. Publishing an obituary is an easy way to let others know that someone has passed away, and many people also view it as a message that celebrates the deceased’s life. In this post, we explore the ins and outs of obituaries.

What is an Obituary?

Obituaries are typically found in local newspapers or online news sites and include a brief summary of the deceased’s life story, as well as a list of surviving family members (which may not be exhaustive).

While the deceased’s family usually provides the information needed to write the obituary it can also be written by the publication’s staff. Some people even choose to write their own obituaries in advance as part of an estate plan.

Can I Write my Own Obituary?

Writing your own obituary gives you more control over how you want to be celebrated and remembered and takes some of the pressure off of loved ones by giving them one less thing to worry about when they are wrapping up your estate.

You can use an estate planning document such as an End-of-Life Plan to guide you through the writing process, and you can even have close friends and family members help you if you wish.

How do I Write an Obituary?

An obituary should tell the story of a deceased person’s life and their accomplishments, such as educational milestones, contributions to their community, and/or volunteer work. In addition, an obituary generally includes the deceased’s:

  • Full name, as well as a nickname if they had one
  • Date of birth
  • Final place of residence
  • Birthplace
  • Surviving family members, including spouses, children, grandchildren, and nieces and nephews

Typically, an obituary will conclude with information about where to send flowers or other appropriate funeral or memorial gifts, or where to send charitable donations in lieu of gifts or flowers.

Choosing to Have an Obituary

An obituary is simply a short article written about a person who has recently passed away that serves to inform others of their passing. It can be viewed as a way to celebrate and tell a person’s life story to a wide audience. If you have preferences about whether you want an obituary or what you would like yours to say, be sure to let your family members or friends know and include those wishes in your estate plans.

Posted by Lisa Hoffart

Lisa is an experienced writer interested in technology and law. She's been writing for LawDepot since 2017.