The appointment of an agent to authorize and coordinate your funeral arrangements and the disposition of your remains at your death is typically not at the forefront of your mind when you are looking to have estate planning documents prepared. However, more and more frequently funeral homes and cremation services are looking for this specific language to be included in an individual’s Last Will in order to move forward with the arrangements after his or her death. By naming a funeral agent in your estate planning documents, you are able to appoint the person who you believe will best carry out your wishes. Furthermore, by designating a funeral agent who has the ultimate say in your final arrangements, you help to avoid potential disagreements among family members that could lead to delays in your arrangements being carried out after your death. Occasionally, litigation can even ensue where family members disagree as to a loved one’s final wishes.
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania law state that a person appointed through a validly executed Last Will to act as the agent supersedes all else. New Jersey law even confirms that the agent appointed in a Will may act in authorizing the funeral arrangements prior to the Will being probated, which may not occur until several weeks after a person’s passing. Importantly, unless specifically stated, the person named as the Executor in your Will is not automatically authorized to act as your agent. Therefore, if you have an older Will that does not include a provision to designate a funeral agent, it is important to have your Will reviewed and updated to include this designation.
If you would like to discuss adding a funeral agent to your Will, or any other change to your estate planning documents, please call our office at 856-489-8388 to schedule an appointment.