By: Jim Dossey, MS, MBA, JD -
Many people have specific ideas about how they want to be buried. Despite the occasional weird / funny disposition requests (see pictures below), in many cases the method of disposition of the decedent's remains is quite serious and important. For example, a same-sex couple may want a specific person (who is not in their blood family) fulfill their funeral wishes. Often the surviving partner will have better knowledge of the decedent's burial wishes than the decedent's family. In other circumstances, the funeral arrangements must be carried out according to a religious doctrine, such as for Muslim decedents.
So how does someone with special ideas about their funeral / burial make sure their wishes are carried out? The Texas Health and Safety Code provides the answer. Under section 711, the decedent may provide written instructions on how they want to be buried. The best method is a document called an "Appointment of Agent for the Disposition of Remains". If this document exists, an authorized agent must provide a written disposition of remains document to the crematory establishment. Alternatively, the decedent can document their final wishes in their Will, although this approach is not recommended.
If an agent is not appointed in a written document, the family generally controls the disposition of remains. The surviving spouse has priority, followed by other members of the family such as the decedent's surviving adult children.
Usually, having your family take care of the funeral arrangements is exactly what you want. However, if you have specific ideas about how you want to be buried, it is best to get those wishes properly documented.
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