An authorization for final dispositions is a document that allows a person to designate who will be in charge of their body and funeral arrangements upon his or her death. In addition, the document provides family members and loved ones with specific instructions regarding a person’s wishes for their funeral and body disposition. The document may include information regarding:
- Burial or cremation;
- Funeral cost;
- A specific funeral home;
- A specific cemetery;
- Religious instructions;
- A specific place of worship;
- Length of viewing;
- Prayer card details;
- Ceremony details;
- Grave marker details;
- Headstone details;
- Desired attire to be buried in;
- Specific flowers;
- Casket details; and
- Who may or may not attend, among other special instructions.
An authorization for final disposition not only reduces the stress on family members or loved ones responsible for planning a funeral but allows a person to have a say in the final details of his or her life. This document may be incorporated into an estate plan to ensure that the person’s wishes are carried out in accordance with their instructions.
Under New Jersey law, a funeral agent must be designated in the decedent’s Last Will & Testament. N.J.S.A. 3B:10-21.1. That statute allows the funeral arrangements to make disposition of the remains. N.J.S.A. 45:27-22. The agent so designated has complete control of the funeral.
Without a valid authorization for final disposition, a surviving spouse, child, parent(s), siblings, distant relatives, or appointed guardian will be required to make arrangements on a deceased’s behalf without being aware of his or her wishes. Oftentimes, disputes will arise between family members regarding the cremation of a loved one’s body, especially if it does not align with family tradition. For this reason, a valid authorization for final disposition form that sets forth a person’s desire to be cremated is crucial to avoiding any contentious issues as well as the delay of a person being laid to rest. In the event a dispute arises without a valid authorization for disposition form in place, a funeral home may refuse to accept the body.
The experienced elder law and estate planning lawyers at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, & Sweeney help seniors and their loved ones handle all aspects of estate planning, including executing an authorization for final disposition. Our New Jersey estate planning lawyers can answer your questions about planning for your future. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our New Jersey estate planning lawyers at (973) 256-0456.