New York State law allows you to control the disposition of your remains by designating a person to carry out your wishes.
Although you can state your wishes in your Will, the Will might not even be read or opened until after the funeral services.
The form for the appointment of an agent to make these decisions on your behalf should be kept in a safe place in your home with your other important decision-making papers, such as your durable power of attorney, health care proxy and living will.
The law gives you the ability to specify your wishes and give instructions to the agent. You are also able to indicate whether you have completed a Pre-Need Agreement with your funeral home.
If you do not designate an agent, the law names a hierarchy of people who have the right to control the disposition of your remains:
(a) surviving spouse
(b) surviving domestic partner
(c) any of the surviving children over 18 years old
(d) either of the surviving parents
(e) any of the surviving siblings over 18 years old
(f) a guardian appointed by the court or
(g) the fiduciary of the estate.
A simple hand written note is not sufficient. There are certain formalities that must be followed to comply with the law.
I recommend contacting an attorney for the preparation of an “Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains”.