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A funeral agent is an individual named by the deceased in his or her will as the person in charge of making funeral arrangements. The rights of the funeral agent supersede the right of all others, including the spouse and other relatives such as children and parents.
Executors of estates, friends, clergy members, social workers, a specific relative and others can be named funeral agents. Funeral directors, however, should never be named funeral agents.
After the death and before the will is probated, the executor will inform the funeral agent that they are in charge of the funeral and let them know how much money is available to spend on arrangements.
If you think your relatives will not honor your funeral wishes or prearrangement's, or if you are on bad terms with relatives, do not know where they are or do not have any relatives living, you should appoint someone you trust as your funeral agent.
The funeral agent option is the legal way for you appoint a specific person to arrange your funeral.
Appointing a funeral agent is good way to ensure that you get the funeral you want.
In order to appoint someone as your funeral agent, you will need to visit an attorney. Inform the attorney you want to name a funeral agent in your will according to N.J.S.A. 45:27-22. The attorney will need to either draw up a new will or amend your existing will to include language similar to this:
Appointment of Funeral and Disposition Representative
An individual seeking to appoint a Funeral Agent to have the legal right to control their funeral and disposition may use the, “Appointment of Agent to Control the Funeral and Disposition of Remains” form, in lieu of appointing a funeral agent in a will or in a codicil to an existing will. This form, approved by the New Jersey Cemetery Board in March 2020, is required to be executed by the individual, two witnesses and a notary. You can acquire this form downloadable from the link below.
* Note: New Jersey’s Civil Union Law took effect on February 19, 2007. The law mandates that civil union couples must receive the same benefits and protections and be subject to the same responsibilities as spouses in a marriage, whether they derive from statute, administrative or court rule, public policy, common law, or any other source of law. Therefore, the New Jersey Civil Union Law extends the right to control disposition to civil union partners in exactly the same way as it extends this right to spouses.