A Funeral Agent is not mandatory in your estate plan—however, it is a wise idea in order to avoid the following scenario….
Our client, recently passed at the age of 94. Having completed extensive estate planning, she had decided not to appoint a Funeral Agent, because she believed no family member would interfere with her funeral arrangements, which were preplanned and paid for in advance by herself. Upon her death, her sister immediately objected when she learned of the funeral arrangements. The sister, who was NOT the Executor had no knowledge of the beneficiaries of the estate and demanded the decedent’s funeral arrangements not be honored as the decedent had planned. The executor was following the decedent’s intentions which had been prepared by the decedent and the funeral home.
Without the designation of a Funeral Agent in her Will, or Codicil, New Jersey law (N.J.S.A.45:27-22) states the order of designation as follows:
1. Legal spouse or civil union partner;
2. Majority of surviving children;
3. Surviving parent(s);
4. Majority of surviving siblings over the age of 18;
5. Other relatives according to the degree of relationship;
6. If no other known living relatives, the funeral director may accept written authorization of other interested parties.
Fortunately, in our case, the decedent’s sister relinquished her right to change the funeral arrangements with the proper explanation of the law.
The lesson to be learned here is that your Executor does not have the final say on your funeral arrangements. The appointment of a Funeral Agent in your Will and/or Codicil will ensure your wishes are followed.
It is time to add this designation to your Last Will and Testament.

February, 2018

Tarta Law Firm NJSteven W. Tarta, Esq. brings nearly 40 years of professional experience to his practice, with a sophisticated focus on Estate Tax Planning, Living Trusts and Elder Law.

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One Comment

  1. This is so very true. My friend who passed away October 2nd had her niece as executrix. My friend had a beautiful wardrobe, she was always impeccably dressed, and always had make up on, even to to take the trash out. She would never leave the house without looking like a million bucks.

    The nieces mother and my friend hated each other. My friends great niece had a husband that did pick up(bodies) for funeral homes. He was always nasty and rude to her. She always said she did not want to be laid out at the funeral home he worked at, as she was afraid he might desecrate her body.

    Well before my friend even passed away, I think on day two, the niece cleaned out her place. Took her entire beautiful wardrobe and gave it to her mother. (The sister that I referenced above)

    They laid her out at the funeral home of the great nieces husband, the person she didn’t want to be allowed near her body, as she feared what he might do to her body.

    Instead of using any of her clothing, which they gave away to the sister she hated, they took a pair of the sisters old pair of ratty black pants from target or Kohl’s, and some crappy used top and that’s how they dressed her to be laid out. They put no make up on her and didn’t bother to do anything with her hair.

    It was the most disrespectful thing I had ever seen at a wake.

    Her headstone was already there because her husband pre-deceased her, but they haven’t bothered to put her name, dob, date of death on the headstone. When we questioned her she blamed it all on the great nieces husband from the funeral parlor saying he must have forgotten.

    Then they claimed that they called the cemetery and cemetery didn’t want to deal with it because it was cold out. We called the cemetery and found out it was all lies and no one had ever called and there was no reason why her name should not have been added already.

    Very sad how it all turned out and how they disrespected her and did not follow any of her wishes. You can never assume that people will do what you requested

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