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Controlling Your Funeral
In New Jersey, you cannot preauthorize your own final disposition. You can prearrange and prepay for your funeral, you can acquire a cemetery plot or express where you would like your ashes to be scattered, but you cannot sign the final authorization for disposition yourself.
New Jersey, as well as other states, has what is called the Right to Control Law (N.J.S.A. 45:27-22). The law, absent the appointment of a Funeral Agent in a will or an Appointment of Agent to Control the Funeral and Disposition of Remains form, (available for download on the Pre-Need Funeral Agent Information page), outlines a next-of-kin hierarchy depicting who has the right to control the funeral and disposition of a deceased person. The person with the right to control is not necessarily the executor of the will.
Right to Control N.J.S.A. 45:27-22
A. If a decedent, in a will as defined in N.J.S.3B:1-2, appoints a person to control the funeral and disposition of the human remains, (FUNERAL AGENT), the funeral and disposition shall be in accordance with the instructions of the person so appointed. A person so appointed shall not have to be the executor of the will. The funeral and disposition may occur prior to probate of the will, in accordance with section 40 of P.L.2003, c.261 (C.3B: 10-21.1). If the decedent has not left a will appointing a person to control the funeral and disposition of the human remains,(FUNERAL AGENT) or an Appointment of Agent to Control the Funeral and Disposition of Remains form, the right to control the funeral and disposition of the human remains shall be in the following order, unless other directions have been given by a court of competent jurisdiction.
B. A cemetery may permit the disposition of human remains on the authorization of a funeral director handling arrangements for the decedent, or on the written authorization of a person who claims to be, and is believed to be, a person who has the right to control the disposition. The cemetery shall not be liable for disposition pursuant to this authorization unless it had reasonable notice that the person did not have the right to control the disposition.
C. A person who signs an authorization for the funeral and disposition of human remains warrants the truth of the facts stated, the identity of the person whose remains are disposed and the authority to order the disposition. The person shall be liable for damages caused by a false statement or breach of warranty. A cemetery or funeral director shall not be liable for disposition in accordance with the authorization unless it had reasonable notice that the representations were untrue or that the person lacked the right to control the disposition.