Can I Control What Happens to My Corpse After My Passing?

HNWEstate Planning

While working on health care directives, I have had clients ask me about leaving special instructions for their loved ones on what they can do with their bodies, whether it can be donated “for science” or if organs can be prioritized for loved ones or family members.  Under New Jersey’s Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.

The simple answer to that question is yes.  When you get a NJ driver’s license, the State asks whether you want to be an organ donor.  It is the simplest way to indicate to someone without putting it in a will or health care directive that you want to gift your organs.  Even while you are alive, you can donate parts of your body to whomever you want, and if you are incapacitated, you can authorize your health care representative to donate or not donate some or all of your organs.  The law allows you this flexibility.

So who can receive a donated body part?  If you are giving away your kidney to your best friend who needs the kidney, then that is an acceptable gift.  A hospital or accredited medical school, dental school, college, or university, organ procurement organization, or an eye bank or tissue bank can also accept a gift.  What the law does not allow is you gifting your organs to anybody.  You can’t direct upon your death that your body parts get carved out of your body and given away to family members, unless that person is receiving that body part for transplant or therapy.  But you can direct that if there is a medical need for organ donation, then priority be given to your blood relatives over strangers.  The law also prioritizes giving away organs to those with a medical need over research and education purposes, i.e., giving your body “to science.”

While it is a difficult and often times gruesome conversation to have, you want to make sure your loved ones know your wishes for what you want done with your body, along with whether you want to be resuscitated or kept alive in a situation where you have a terminal condition.  Our office can assist you with preparing these documents that will make dealing with the end of your life the smoothest and easiest time your family will have as they deal with the pain and emotions that come with making these tough medical decisions.

To discuss a NJ Power of Attorney or Health Care Directive matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County NJ Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive Attorney

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