Episode 5: Introduction to Funeral & Disposition Planning (with Rebecca Morrow)
The laws regarding the distribution of property after death are determined by the state in which the deceased person (known as the “decedent”) resided at the time of their death. If a person does not leave a validly executed will, then the court with probate jurisdiction will apply the “intestacy laws” to determine the distribution of a decedent’s property and payment of any debts left at death. Funeral expenses have top priority for payment from the estate at the time of death.
The laws regarding the disposition of human remains are determined by the state in which the person died. Many (but not all) states allow people to designate an agent or leave binding funeral and disposition instructions. There is significant variety between the states in terms of what kinds of documents are needed to designate an agent or leave instructions. If a person does not leave validly executed instructions, then the laws of the state where the person died will determine who gets to take control of the remains and make decisions regarding funeral and disposition.
For more information about the state laws regarding possession and control of human remains, as well as how to leave binding instructions, you can refer to the article here.
Resources referenced in today’s podcast, or more information:
The Body Trade: Cashing in on the Donated Dead
Harvard Medical School Anatomical Gift Program
National Funeral Directors Association
National Home Funeral Alliance
The FTC Funeral Rule: Consumer Guides
Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death