Who Decides What Happens to Your Body After You Die?

From donating your body to science to urns that turn your remains into a tree, there are many options out there for people looking for alternatives to the traditional burial.  Whether you are seeking a traditional or unconventional final resting place, the question then is how best to convey those wishes to your loved ones.

Under Ohio law, you can execute a written declaration assigning to a representative the right to direct and make arrangements for the disposition of your body and to make arrangement for a funeral, including the location, manner and condition for both.

If you don’t make a written declaration for disposition of bodily remains in compliance with Ohio law, the right to make these decisions will fall to your next of kin, in order of priority: surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, etc.

If there is a disagreement among a class of decision makers, your children, for example, the decision of the majority would rule.  If the majority couldn’t reach a decision, it would be left to probate court to decide.

A written declaration is important for those whose wishes regarding the disposition of their body is contrary to their next of kin or who are not close to their next of kin either in relationship or distance.

When making estate planning preparations, in addition to the Trust, Will, Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will, you should consider whether a Declaration is right for you. For more information regarding a Declaration or estate planning, contact a Cleveland estate planning lawyer.