Did you know that it is now possible to be buried on the moon? Elysium, a San Francisco based company, is now offering an affordable way to have your ashes forever a part of the night sky. Interested? You had better get it in writing.
Healthcare Agent has Authority over Remains
Many people do not realize that the Agent they appoint in a Healtcare Power of Attorney also has the authority to dispose of their remains upon their death. A common misconception is that the Executor appointed in your Will has this authority but that often is not the case.
Typical language from a North Carolina Healthcare Power of Attorney includes the following:
I grant to my health care agent full power and authority to make and carry out all health care decisions for me. These decisions include, but are not limited to:
H. To the extent I have not already made valid and enforceable arrangements during my lifetime that have not been revoked, exercising any right I may have to authorize an autopsy or direct the disposition of my remains.
Family Disputes over Remains
The time immediately after a loved one passes is emotional and complicated. Decisions made in that period may be hasty, but have eternal effects. The custody battle for Anna Nicole Smith’s body lasted nearly a month and became the center of tabloid news. James Brown’s body sat in a casket for two months, as family members bickered over where he should rest. These issues are not limited to the eccentric celebrities. Fights over remains have been battled in many courts across the country, leaving the dead without their final resting place while the family fractures and spends thousands on litigation that could have been avoided.
Tips to Avoid Conflicts
I have seen first hand vicious disputes between grieving family members over how to handle funeral arrangements and decisions regarding cremation or burial. Two tips to avoid your family fighting over your body include:
- Naming the same individual as your Agent for Healthcare Power of Attorney and Executor in your Will could avoid a conflict between different individuals serving in these roles.
- Pre-pay for your funeral arrangements during your lifetime and enter into an enforceable contract for handling your remains. A lesser alternative would be to leave clear written instructions on you desire your remains to be handled.
Our experienced and compassionate Estate Planning Attorneys can help you avoid conflict surrounding your Estate and make sure your wishes for your final resting place are honored.