When it comes to planning a funeral and authorizing funeral arrangements, executors, guardians and people holding powers of attorney (POA) all play unique roles.
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a written authorization appointing a person to represent or act and make decisions on another individual’s behalf while they are alive. There are different types of Power of Attorney documents that grant different rights and privileges. One type is a financial power of attorney for making financial decisions and another type is a health care power of attorney for making medical decisions. Consult an attorney for further information on the different types of Power of Attorney appointments, the rights and when the role takes effect.
In most financial Power of Attorney documents, the appointed person has the ability to preplan and prepay a funeral based on the rights and privileges assigned. However, the appointed person does not have the right to make funeral arrangements for the individual following their death. A Power of Attorney document and the appointed person’s authority becomes null and void upon the individual’s death.
A legal guardian is a person or agency appointed to act on behalf of a minor or an incapacitated adult to assure that the individual’s rights are protected and health, safety, and financial needs are met.
A guardian may or may not have the right to make funeral arrangements for the individual following their death. The right to control the individual’s funeral depends on the powers legally assigned to the Guardian. Consult an attorney for further information on a guardian appointment.
An executor is someone appointed in a Will, or by a court, to take care of an individual’s financial obligations after death. The executor has the responsibility to distribute estate property and pay estate debts and expenses according to the terms in the Will.
Sometimes individuals believe that an executor of a Will or estate can plan and make decisions for the decedent’s funeral. However, in New Jersey the executor of a Will does not automatically have the right to plan or control the funeral or decide on burial or cremation of the decedent, unless specific wording is included in the Will naming the executor as the person appointed to carry out those duties. If another individual is appointed in the Will with the right to control the deceased’s funeral and disposition, the Executor is responsible to inform the individual of their appointment and advising them of the funds available for funeral expenses.
Consult an attorney for further information on an Executor appointment in a Will.