Who can direct disposition of remains after death?

In April 2012 the Tennessee legislature signed into law a set of guidelines determining who has legal authority regarding disposition of your body after death. In other words there is a law now that clearly outlines who gets to say what happens to your body after you die. Are you cremated or buried and where your remains will be located etc. If you have adequately planned ahead with a pre-need funeral contract or some other written instrument properly executed then your directions will prevail. Such a document could be a will or trust, an advance directive or even a letter of instruction. Any of these documents must be properly witnessed and or notarized.
Absent such written direction the right to control the disposition of your body vests in your durable power of attorney for health care. What if you don't have a health care agent? There is a list in descending order of priority of those granted authority.  Following the health care agent is your spouse, then surviving children, ultimately ending with a funeral home director. The law even provides for what the course of action should be in the event a decision among those with authority cannot be agreed upon.   
Additionally your designated agent is not obligated to carry your wishes out if they're highly impractical, illegal, or financially burdensome. It's very important for you and your agent to understand how much your wishes will cost, and to plan accordingly. You should not expect your designated agent to pay for a costly funeral if you don't set money aside for that expense.
 


 

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