Wills - or the lack thereof - are many times the bone of contention for families when a loved one dies.
Who is responsible for taking care of the Funeral planning? Simply stated there is a legal order of priority.
I have a will.
I have a Will and have designated a Power of Attorney and Executor. Who will call the shots?
A Power of Attorney can make pre-need arrangements for you but cannot make at-need (after death) arrangements. The reason for this is that the Power of Attorney document becomes null and void at the time of your death.
Your Executor has responsibilities such as arranging the funeral, paying bills and settling the estate. After you die, your Executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes set out in your Will.
I'm married but my executor is not my spouse.
If you have a Will and have designated someone other than your spouse as your Executor, the Executor legally is entitled to decide (or carry out your wishes) for your funeral arrangements.
The only time the spouse is legally entitled to make these decisions is if you do not have a Will - the order of priority states next-of-kin will make these decisions if a Will and designated Executor is not made. Your spouse or interdependent partner are first on the list when it comes to order of priority after your Executor.
I am not married.
Whether it be that you were never married, you and your spouse are divorced or your spouse has passed on before you - order of priority states that any adult children that you have will become your next-of-kin. If you have multiple children, then your oldest child becomes the decision maker for your funeral arrangements. Any child who is to make funeral arrangements for you must be an adult.
I do not have a spouse or adult children.
If you never married (or you are divorced or your spouse has passed before you) and you did not have any children or your children are still too young - who would take care of your funeral arrangements?
Simply stated one of your parents. They can choose to make these decisions together or have only one of them make the decisions.
Who is next on the order of priority?
There are several other people listed on the order of priority if you do not have Will with an Executor, a spouse or partner, children or living parents.
Things get a little trickier if you do not have anyone left from the lists above.
make a will and pre-plan your funeral.
On the planning side, making a Will and designating an Executor should be first on your plan. Pre-paid funeral arrangements will decrease the amount of family disputes and eliminate the financial strain on all involved.
As an Executor or family member taking care of a loved one's funeral arrangements, keep in mind how much they would have wanted to spend on their arrangements and do your best to stick to their wishes.