Who Has Authority to Plan a Loved One's Funeral in Texas?
Besides the looming questions related to managing and settling your loved one's estate, someone must take up the immediate necessity of planning the funeral or memorial service and accompanying burial, cremation or interment. But what if the family is at odds over the final arrangements?
Dealing with the death of someone you love is difficult enough without adding family conflict to your plate. In this article, we discuss the law in Texas regarding who has the authority to make final arrangements.
Where to look for burial directions
If you are very fortunate, your loved one already bore the planning burden for you, even if his or her death was unexpected. Many people plan their funerals ahead of time because they want things done a certain way. Other people — surviving spouses, frequently — make their final arrangements in advance to insulate their loved ones from having to do it.
The first place to look for information regarding pre-planned final arrangements is among the deceased's personal effects and papers. The instructions must be in writing and conform with Texas law to be enforceable. Funeral directions are often included in the last will and testament or kept with a copy of the will. Alternatively, your loved one may have given a copy of the instructions to a person authorized to carry them out.
Who is supposed to be in charge of making arrangements?
If valid funeral instructions exist, the person named as agent for that purpose has authority to make final arrangements. In the event no instructions can be located or if the instructions do not comply with Texas law, the following people have authority to make funeral arrangements, in this order:
- A surviving spouse
- Surviving children over 18 years of age
- Surviving parents
- Surviving siblings
- Any other surviving family members in the next degree of kinship in the order named by law to inherit from your estate
In addition to naming an agent to control final arrangements, a person can and should name a successor agent in the event the first person selected is unable or unwilling to perform.
Don't keep your funeral plans a secret
If you are the kind of person who knows what you want for your final disposition, and want to keep your loved ones from the difficult task of making final arrangements for you, consult an experienced estate planning lawyer at the Peterson Law Group. Our experienced Conroe, Texas attorneys help clients develop comprehensive estate plans, including wills, trusts and advance directives to ensure your wishes are carried out. Call us at 936-337-4681 or 979-703-7014 or contact us online to arrange an appointment.