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Writing your own obituary can help prevent fraud when you’re gone

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2024 | Estate Planning

People often decide while they’re working on their estate plan to write (or at least draft) their own obituary. Often, it’s emotionally easier to do while you’re already thinking about what will happen after you die. Some people do it earlier – maybe for a writing class or as part of therapy. 

Even if you plan to live plenty of additional years, it never hurts to have something in writing that you can update periodically. It’s a good idea, however, to note in your estate plan where to find it and why you included – and excluded – the information you did. You can also tell them where you want the obituary posted. 

Writing your own obituary, in addition to saving your family, a difficult chore after you’re gone, helps you protect the assets you’re leaving to your loved ones and worthy causes. Too often, families include far too much personal information in an obituary

Obituaries are often readily available online on sites like as well as newspaper sites. The information in them can be used by identity thieves and other fraudsters not just to gain access to a decedent’s accounts and benefits, but to scam loved ones. Sometimes, it’s even used by thieves to break into unoccupied homes.

Why you should limit the personal information you include

Here is just a sampling of the information regularly included in obituaries that can be used by fraudsters:

  • Address
  • Birthplace 
  • Locations where a person lived throughout their life
  • Maiden name
  • Siblings’ full names
  • Alma maters
  • Former employers
  • Children’s and grandchildren’s full names
  • Pets’ names
  • Groups/organizations to which they belonged
  • Hobbies
  • Favorite vacation spots/locations of second homes

While these might all seem like the standard things included in obituaries, they’re all bits of information that can be used together or alone to steal someone’s identity or convince a loved one that they’re the beneficiary of a substantial life insurance policy and that they just need to provide their account number so that the funds can be deposited. 

Remember that you’re writing the obituary for people you know. They don’t need or want autobiographical information as much as what wisdom and thoughts you’d like to leave them with.

This is just one thing you can do while you’re still alive and well to protect your assets and your loved ones after you’re gone. With sound estate planning guidance, you can explore many others.