Disposition of Remains


Advance Medical Directives are documents that allow you to express your wishes with respect to health care and end of life decisions in advance of when you need them. Although it is not medical in nature, there is another Advance Directive that is useful when putting together an estate plan: the Appointment of an Agent to Control the Disposition of Remains.

When a loved one passes, a conflict often develops among the deceased’s family as to how the deceased’s remains are to be handled. Many people may claim to know your wishes. Some will contend you expressed a desire for cremation, not burial; others may argue just as strongly that you wished to be buried at a specific cemetery. Such arguments can lead to unnecessary heartache and family strife during an already trying time.

An Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains addresses this issue. The document allows you to not only express your wishes, but to also appoint an agent to carry out those wishes. Some clients choose to leave broad advance directives only, such as “upon my death I wish to be cremated”. Others describe their wishes in detail, right down to the hymns they want sung at a church service and the food they want served at the reception afterward. Most advance directives fall somewhere in between those two examples. The documents also allows you to alert your family to the location of any pre-paid burial site or the existence of a pre-paid funeral trust.

A Disposition of Remains document is revocable and can be amended right up until death. It helps insure that your wishes are carried out and it serves to protect your agent from a family member who disagrees with your choices. We recommend them as part of any comprehensive estate plan.