Eight People Who Are Authorized to Make Decisions About Your Funeral

When creating your estate plan, you are likely focused on who should receive your assets and in what manner. You may also be thinking about ways to minimize taxes or avoid probate. However, it is important not to overlook another important aspect of a good estate plan: planning for your funeral arrangements. California law allows us to either appoint someone to carry out our funeral arrangements or to provide detailed instructions ourselves. We can also set aside the money that should be used to pay for these expenses.

People Who Have Authority to Make Funeral Arrangements in California

Under the law in California, certain people are given the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to funerals. This also applies to the disposal of your body, such as by burial or cremation. Authority to make these decisions is given in the following order:

  1. You. Under California law, if you write down your funeral instructions before you die, these decisions take precedence
  2. Your health care agent, as named in an advance directive
  3. Your spouse
  4. Your adult child
  5. A majority of your adult children if you have more than one
  6. Your parents
  7. Your siblings
  8. Your next of kin

As you create your estate plan, understand that you can give someone who is not on the above list the authority to make decisions about your funeral arrangements. To do so, you must put your wishes in writing. If you wish to name someone who has this authority, your attorney can craft the appropriate language within your advance directive.

When you sit down to create your estate plan, there are many important issues that must be carefully considered. Making arrangements for your funeral and for the handling of your body is one such important consideration. To stay up-to-date on all of the latest issues that can impact the creation of your estate plan, we encourage you to sign up for our free newsletter today!

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm