I’m sure this is a question you’ve asked yourself a million times, “Who has the right to make my burial/cremation decisions for me?”
No? Just me?
Well, you’re in luck today because I’m going to answer it for you anyway!
Each state is different when it comes to who has the right to make a burial/cremation decision for a person.
We were recently asked whether Florida law requires the spouse (or heirs, if none) to approve cremation if the “decedent” (person who has died) previously put in writing her/his desires for cremation.
Florida law determines who can make decisions about funerals and body disposition after someone dies.
This right and responsibility goes to the following people, in order:
- you, if you leave written directions before your death
- your surviving spouse, unless your spouse is criminally responsible for your death
- your adult child, or a majority of your children if you have more than one
- your parents
- your siblings
- your grandchildren
- your grandparents, or
- your next of kin.
(Fla. Stat. § 497.005(39))
So the answer: A written designation by the decedent prior to death (for example, the document we prepare in our office called an Appointment of Agent) would take priority!
If you died without specifying your preference as to burial/cremation, your spouse would make the choice for you, followed by an adult child(ren) acting by majority if more than one, your parents, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, or if none, your next of kin.
The Appointment of Agent document that we prepare in our office appoints an agent and successor agents to dispose of your remains in accordance with your wishes.
Your wishes are set forth generally within the document, and an “Exhibit A” provides additional space for you to thoughtfully make known your specific requests.
We’ve had clients request a green burial which is an environmentally friendly, no-frills, often less expensive, and modern burial.
We’ve had clients request cremation, but expressly prohibit their family from keeping her/his ashes on the mantle.
Some of our clients get really detailed about the places they’d like their ashes spread.
Many of our clients who will be buried at Barrancas National Cemetery don’t realize that their spouse is also eligible to be buried there.
Part of our strategy meetings with our clients includes makes these important decisions about your final wishes.
It sounds morbid, but practically speaking - there are some people who are better suited for this sort of task than others.
By specifying in advance who will carry out your wishes, you can select the appropriate person(s) for the job and eliminate those you know will find the task too emotionally taxing.
Amanda “Answering Your (Not So) Frequently Asked Questions” Lynch Elliott