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How to Write an Obituary

Decide what type of obituary you’d like to write. Most people choose a short obituary to notify the community of the Deceased’s passing and to give funeral/memorial information. If the Deceased was prominent in their community, you may want to consider contacting the local newspaper about a longer descriptive obituary. A journalist would likely be involved in writing this.

Capture the vital information: Name, age, and year of birth. Be careful about how much you decide to print. Don’t print the Deceased’s date of birth or exact date of death.

Include the list of survivors. Start with closest family members first: spouse, children, brothers, sisters, and so on.

Include a brief biography of the Deceased. Highlight their passions and their achievements. Make sure to make it positive and express positive actions, feelings, and contributions of the Deceased. Do your best to capture who they were and their impact in the lives of those around them. This can be difficult given the space limitations, but do your best. The funeral home may be able to help.

Include relevant funeral or memorial information if available. Be sure to mention whether the family would prefer a donation to a memorial fund or charity in lieu of flowers.

The contents of this checklist are intended to provide helpful suggestions to a family member or other survivor who has assumed the duties of concluding the affairs of a loved one/decedent. The list is not intended to be exhaustive. It is not intended to provide legal or financial advice nor to be relied on in lieu of such services.  If you have specific questions relating to an estate you are handling, you may find it helpful to consult with a probate attorney or financial professional.