In our last post we began looking at the issue of planning for your funeral arrangements and the disposition of your remains. As we mentioned, some people truly do find these to be uncomfortable topics of conversation. Others know exactly what they want their funeral to be like, what music they want, what food, what flowers, etc. Whichever category you fall into, or if you don't know where you fall, it is good to be reminded of the importance of at least knowing your options in this area.
One thing worth mentioning is that putting your wishes regarding funeral arrangements and disposition of remains in your will isn't necessary. For many, orally making their wishes known to their family is enough. Some, however, may want the extra confidence that placing those wishes in their will gives.
As we already noted, New Jersey law protects your desires for funeral arrangements and the disposition of your remains as given by a representative appointed in your will. If no person is named, your surviving spouse of civil union partner will have priority in taking charge of those matters.
If your surviving spouse or civil union partner is unable or unwilling to make those decisions, the eldest surviving adult child of the decedent is next in line to make those decisions. After that is the surviving parent(s) of the deceased, then the eldest brother or sister of the deceased, then the next of kin by degree of relationship.
If there are no known living relatives available, cemetery's are allowed to follow the written instructions of any other person who steps up to act on behalf of the deceased. The latter situation is surely likely to be rare.
Keep these tips and pointers in mind when planning for your own funeral and disposition.
Source: nj.com, "Your Legal Corner: Funerals and the disposition of remains," Victoria M. Dalton, Oct 2011.