When it comes to making decisions regarding final arrangements, New York State Law provides a certain pecking order regarding who has the authority to make these decisions on your behalf should you pass away or become unable to do so prior to having done so yourself. In the best case, all those left behind are agreeable to the plans being made and accepting of the person with the legal authority to make them. In many instances, however, this may not be the case.
Until recently, when there was a dispute as to the specifics of the arrangements and who had the right to make the final decisions, the law stated that the surviving spouse has the final say. But that has changed. If the deceased has completed an “Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains, this person’s authority will trump even a spouse’s authority.
The appointment of an agent is important if you anticipate either a dispute among your survivors regarding the type of funeral you wish to plan. It takes on even more importance when you do not have family who will be seeing to your arrangements, ESPECIALLY IF YOU WISH TO BE CREMATED. In New York State, permission to cremate must be granted by the medical examiner’s office and they will not grant permission unless a blood relative of the deceased has given authorization. If there is no blood relative, there will be a long delay before permission is granted as the public administrator will now become involved in an investigation and waiting period.
By designating an agent to control disposition, all of this can be avoided. By simply downloading the form, completing it, and returning it to us, you can be assured that your wishes will be carried out (as long as the agent you designated is aware of them). The form also includes a place to list any potential successor agents you designate should your appointee predecease you.