Decide whether to remove all jewelry of value before burial
Typically when the deceased’s body arrives at the funeral home, all personal items, including jewelry, will be removed, inventoried, and placed in a secure location until they can be given to the executor or the family. If the deceased is to be cremated, no metals will be permitted on the body during the process. In cases of traditional burial, however, the option to have the deceased buried with jewelry exists. Deciding on this matter is a personal decision but could have estate implications, so an executor and the estate attorney will likely need to be involved.
Pros and cons
There are pros and cons on both sides to consider. If as executor this decision is yours, you will want to think carefully about the matter, especially in regards to a wedding ring. On the “pro” side, some people view burying a person with their wedding ring as the best decision. Since the ring was made especially for the deceased and signified a serious relationship and commitment, the thinking here is that it should be with them always. On the other hand, though, a wedding ring can be kept by the living as a symbol of the profound relationship. Often, these rings are cherished by the spouse left behind or the couple’s children or grandchildren. When it comes to other jewelry, the same consideration should be given as special pieces often become treasured heirlooms handed down from generation to generation. Of course, as part of your executor responsibilities, you must follow the will. If the will states certain jewelry such as a wedding or engagement ring should pass to a beneficiary, you must honor the wishes described in the will and therefore not bury the jewelry with the deceased.
Note regarding jewelry of value
Another issue to consider, regrettably, is whether the jewelry will be tempting to those handling and caring for the deceased’s body during the funeral process. Sadly, for a variety of reasons, people do steal items of value from the deceased. For this reason, if you choose to leave jewelry on the deceased, do your best to ensure safeguards are in place. Family members also can witness the closing of a casket when valuables are involved, so just ask the funeral director. If you would like to do this. In some cases, “fake” wedding rings of lesser value are placed on the deceased for burial. These denote the significance of the marriage, but allow the actual wedding ring to remain in the hands of the deceased’s family or other loved ones.