Sorry that You’re Dead but now the Lack of a Trust May Subject your Estate to an Unwanted Funeral

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., a NJ Trust Attorney

If you are thinking about a trust, you may think of a document that provides who receives your property upon death. However, did you know that a trust can also direct who should be in charge of your funeral and the burial/disposition of your remains after your death? Most assume that those closest to them will honor their wishes of where and how they wish their body to be disposed, however this is not always the case.  Sometimes family members fight over if and where a body should be buried or whether it should be buried at all but instead be cremated. A well-written trust can avoid all of this and dictate who shall be in charge of your body after your death. If you do not instruct your wishes in a trust, New Jersey law divides who chooses where and how your body will be buried/cremated.

 In New Jersey our law states that if a person has not left a trust appointing a person to control the funeral and disposition of  the remains, the right to control the disposition of the body shall go to the person with the highest priority in the following  order:

1. The surviving spouse or partner in a domestic partnership or civil union;
2. A majority of the surviving adult children;
3. The surviving parents or parent;
4. A majority of the brothers and sisters of the decedent;
5. Other next of kin, with priority going to those who are closer relatives;
6. If no known living relatives, any other person acting on behalf of decedent.

Unpredictable disputes often arise pertaining to a decedent’s burial.  Difference of opinion between religions, location, second marriages, children of first marriages and other concerns often are caused by different family members. To ensure your wishes are met, you should meet with an experienced New Jersey trust attorney and clearly indicate in your trust who should be placed in charge of the disposition of your body after your death. This can help avoid family controversy and make sure you are buried/cremated according to your wishes.

If you have any questions relating to your trust or New Jersey law relating to the disposition of the deceased, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., a knowledgeable New Jersey Trust Attorney immediately. He can be reached toll free at 888-800-7442 or by email at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com/. He would be more than happy to meet with you and answer your questions.

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