Funeral Agents

A thorough and well thought out estate plan is essential for many reasons and puts you in control to define your wishes and desires for when you are no longer able to make those decisions. Careful estate planning addresses many issues, including who will receive your assets, who will care for your children, establishes trusts to provide money for the care of your children, and gives you a voice to make medical and financial decisions when you are unable to communicate them on your own.

For those situations when an individual out lives their relatives, are estranged from family members, or may have reason to believe family members will not abide by their expressed wishes with respect to funeral plans, particular consideration in estate planning becomes necessary. New Jersey law authorizes the inclusion of a provision in your Last Will and Testament that appoints another person to control the funeral and disposition of your body. N.J.S.A. 45:27-22. The person appointed, sometimes called the funeral agent, does not have to be the executor under the Will. Funeral homes are required to honor the instructions of the person appointed as the funeral agent.

For those finding themselves in this type of situation, a sample of the language that should be included in the Last Will and Testament appears below. This is offered for illustrative purposes only. We recommend that you consult with an attorney for your particular situation.

Appointment of Funeral and Disposition Representative

“I hereby nominate, constitute and appoint [insert name] to serve as my Funeral and Disposition Representative, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:27-22. My Representative shall have the authority and power to control the arrangements for my funeral and the disposition of my remains. My Executor shall notify my Representative of this appointment, and shall advise my Representative of the financial means available to carry out the Funeral and Disposition arrangements. In the event [insert name] should predecease me or for some other reason not qualify to serve as my Funeral and Disposition Representative, then I nominate, constitute and appoint [insert name of alternate] as my Funeral and Disposition Representative.”