The State of New Jersey quietly updated the law with respect to the appointment of a Funeral Representative. Under the old law in order to designate a Funeral Representative, the only way to do so was by inserting a provision in your Will. The problem with the old law was that you cannot probate a Will in NJ until ten days after a person has died. The new law allows a person to designate a person using a form to be approved by the NJ Cemetery Board. (Unfortunately, as of the date of this post, the NJ Cemetery Board has not approved of the form.) This can then be taken to the appropriate funeral parlor or cemetery so that arrangements can be made.
What is a Funeral Representative?
A Funeral Representative is a person that you can designate to control how your remains will be disposed of on death. Basically, the Funeral Representative is the person with legal authority to determine IF you are buried, cremated, disinterred, etc. This is also the person to determine WHERE you are buried or where your ashes should be placed.
When is it important to nominate a Funeral Representative?
It is particularly important to nominate a Funeral Representative if:
- You do not want your next of kin making funeral or burial arrangements for you;
- You do not have any next of kin;
- Your next of kin do not get along with each other;
- You are in a blended family (i.e. if you are married, but have children from a previous relationship); or
- You do not think your next of kin will respect your funeral or burial wishes.
What happens if you don’t name a Funeral Representative?
If you don’t name a Funeral Representative, state laws dictate who controls how your remains will be disposed of. In New Jersey, unless a court dictates otherwise, the order for who has control is as follows:
- The surviving spouse of the decedent or the surviving civil union or domestic partner.
- A majority of the surviving adult children of the decedent.
- The surviving parent or parents of the decedent.
- A majority of the brothers and sisters of the decedent.
- Other next of kin of the decedent according to the degree of consanguinity.
- If there are no known living relatives, a cemetery may rely on the written authorization of any other person acting on behalf of the decedent
Where can the update law be found?
The new statute can be found at N.J.S.A. 45:27-22