You’re Dead but the Lack of a Will May Subject you to an Unwanted Burial

HNWElder Law, Last Wills and Testament

When many people think of a will, they think of a document that indicates who shall receive their property when they die. However, did you know that a will can also indicate who should be in charge of your funeral and burial/disposition of your remains after your death? Many people 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 feud over where a body should be buried or whether it should be buried or cremated. A well-drafted will can avoid all of this and indicate who shall be in charge of your body after your death. If you do not indicate your wishes in a will, state law will determine who chooses where and how your body will be buried/cremated.

New Jersey law states that if a decedent has not left a will 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, with religion, location, second marriages, children of first marriages and other concerns often arising from different family members. To ensure your wishes are met, you should meet with an experienced New Jersey attorney and clearly indicate in your will or trust who should be placed in charge with 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 will or New Jersey law relating to the disposition of the deceased, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., a knowledgeable New Jersey Will Attorney immediately. He can be reached toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or by email at He would be more than happy to answer your questions.

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

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