By: Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney
George, a widower, died yesterday. Already his family is arguing about what to do with his remains.
Should he be buried or cremated?
If he is buried, which cemetery is the “right” one?
If he is cremated, can some of his children take a portion of his ashes? What to do with the rest of the ashes?
Will there be a funeral and if so how much will be spent?
What a mess. Already there are hard feelings in the family.
How can this problem be solved? Easy.
The simplest way is you make your own funeral planning arrangements before you die. It’s your funeral after all.
If you do not take care of that part of your future, you pass that problem to others.
If no pre-arrangements have been made, the legal system takes over. In Idaho, we have a statute right on point. Idaho Code Section 54-1142, entitled “Authority in absence of or uncovered provisions in a prearranged funeral plan” sets out who can make these decisions.
The following is the order of priority of who has the power to make funeral planning arrangements.
- A prearranged funeral plan.
- The person designated in writing, signed by the decedent (in the same manner as a deed).
- The person designated as an agent under a durable power of attorney for health care signed by the decedent, unless that power of attorney expressly denies that right.
- The person designated in a financial power of attorney signed by the decedent, if the power expressly grants the right to make funeral planning arrangements.
- The competent surviving spouse of the decedent.
- A majority of the competent surviving adult children of the decedent, with some qualifying limitations.
- The competent surviving parent or parents.
- The person nominated as personal representative of the estate of the decedent in a will.
- The competent adult person or person entitled to inherit from the decedent under Idaho intestate succession laws.
Estate planning includes funeral planning arrangements. What an extraordinary gift to your family if this is already taken care of. All they have to do when you die is call the mortuary, and they step in and follow your wishes.