Who Has the Right to Make Your Funeral Arrangements?

Elder Law

In New Jersey you’re allowed to name an individual to make your funeral arrangements. This “funeral agent” does not have to be the executor of your will, nor do they have to be related to you. You may name almost anyone (except your funeral director) to carry out your final wishes. This funeral agent must be named in your will (or, if you are an active duty service member, listed on your DoD Record,)

If you do not name an agent in your will, the following people are responsible for managing the disposition of your remains (in this order):

  1. Your spouse, civil union partner, or domestic partner. If you’re divorced, have a restraining order against your spouse or partner, or if your spouse is accused of intentionally killing you, they cannot make your funeral arrangements.
  2. The majority of your surviving adult children.
  3. Your surviving parent or parents.
  4. A majority of your brothers and sisters.
  5. Other next-of-kin, in order of their blood relationship to you.
  6. If you have no known living relatives, the cemetery may rely on the written authorization of any other person acting on your behalf (friends, neighbors, etc.).

If believe that any of the above-named individuals won’t carry out your wishes, or if you’re estranged from your family members, or have no living relations, you should consider naming a funeral agent in your will.

You should also consider setting aside money in your will to cover the costs of your funeral (or make arrangements to pre-pay for these services with the funeral home of your choice.) A funeral agent is not responsible for making arrangements that are impractical, illegal or financially burdensome.

Although you can pre-plan your funeral arrangements, you have no ultimate authority over them after you are deceased, other than naming the individual you think will carry them out in your will. If you are concerned about making sure your last wishes are honored, please call us at 856-227-7888, or contact us at [email protected] to discuss your options.

Related Articles:

What Documents Do You Need for Estate Planning?

Reasons for Contesting a Will

The Importance of an Attorney in Estate Planning

The above is not specific legal advice nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship. Do not rely upon it without consulting an attorney to see how the information presented fits your unique circumstances.


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