While Cremstar is not a law firm and we are not licensed to provide legal advice, * we can guide customers regarding certain legal issues
that come up when someone dies.
Next of Kin
Any Next-of-Kin must be 18 years or age or older. In most instances, the NOK is determined in the following order:
- Any person specifically designated by the decedent through a legal document (i.e. only a decedent's Last Will and Testament or Designation of Agent for Body Disposition, see blow);
- If no person has been designated through legal document, the decedent's spouse, if still legally married;
- In certain states, like New York, if the decedent was not married at the time of passing, the decedent's officially registered domestic partner;
- If the decedent was not married at the time of passing, or did not have an officially recognized domestic partner, the adult children of the decedent;
- If the decedent has no living children, the parent(s) of the decedent - both required in PA and NJ, while only one is required in NY;
- If the decedent has no living parent, then brothers or sisters of the decedent - the majority of siblings are required in PA and NJ, while only one is required in in NY;
- If the decedent has no living brothers or sisters, then any adult nieces or nephews of the decedent;
- If the decedent has no living nieces or nephews, then the siblings of the decedent's parents -i.e. the decedent's uncle(s) or aunt(s);
- If the decedent's parents have no surviving children, then the grandparent(s) of the decedent, or - if both are dead - the grandparent's children.
Power of Attorney
The power of attorney terminates upon the death of the person who signs it. A power of attorney does not grant you permission to deal with the disposition of
a body. To order a cremation you must: 1) be the next of kin; 2) be named as the agent for disposition of body in the decedent's Will; or 3) have a Designated Agent form signed
and properly witnessed. (See DABD, below.)
What is an authorizing agent?
An authorizing agent is someone with the authority to make decisions regarding what happens with the deceased. In this case, that means someone
who has the legal right to request a cremation. This person is usually next-of-kin (relative), but sometimes is another person who has been given this authority by an
official document; i.e. a decedent's Last Will and Testament or Designation of Agent for Body Disposition (DABD). If you are next-of-kin to the deceased, note that there
might be other next-of-kin with equal authority, such as your siblings. In such cases, it is important that you attempt to contact them prior to ordering a cremation.
(See How do I determine who is next-of-kin, below.) Be aware that for those with "power of attorney" over an individual, legal authority expires when that individual passes,
and they are no longer entitled to make decisions as authorizing agent.
Make a Will
Even if you don't have a large estate you should make a Will. A Will helps your loved ones disperse belongings after a death and can resolve post-death disputes.
If you don't want your next of kin to handle your body after death then you need to name the person you'd like to handle your disposition of body in your Will.
If you would like to create a Last Will and Testament to designate someone other than a traditional next-of-kin family member as your authorizing agent with legal control over
the disposition of your remains, we recommend NOLO, a leading provider of legal do-it-yourself products.
Designation of Agent for Body Disposition (DABD) Forms
An authorizing agent is someone with the authority to make decisions regarding what happens with the deceased. This person is usually next-of-kin
(a relative), but sometimes is another person who has been given this authority by an official document; i.e. a decedent's Last Will and Testament or a Designation of Agent for
Body Disposition (DABD). The authority of any person designated in a decedent's will or by a DABD always supersedes that of next-of-kin (NOK); i.e. they take priority over everyone.
If you would like to use a simple DABD form to designate an authorizing agent other than your natural Next-of-Kin, order a copy of our Designated Agent Kit from our Forms & Kits page, featuring the following components:
- The Designated Agent - An Introduction
- If you want to designate someone to handle your body's disposition after you pass other than your natural next-of-kin, or if you don't have a traditional NOK, a Designated Agent may be perfect for you.
- The Cremstar Process for Those Planning Ahead with a Designated Agent
- A checklist of things you'll need to do, in concert with your Designated Agent, before the passing.
- The Cremstar Process for the Designated Agent
- A checklist of things your Designated Agent will need to do after you've transitioned.
- The 3 Cremstar Forms
- Samples of the questions your Designated Agent will need to answer online to order and arrange the cremation when the time comes.
- DABD Forms
Reasonable Attempt to Notify Forms
If you are not able to locate the natural Authorizing Agent and you have made reasonable efforts to try and track them down,
you may become the Authorizing Agent yourself, depending upon your relationship to the deceased.
If you believe you qualify, visit our Forms & Kits page, and print out and complete the relevant form.
Waiving Disposition Rights Forms
If you are the legal Next-of-Kin (NOK) and you would like to give up your right to make decisions about the disposition of a lost loved one's body in favor
of someone else, visit our Forms & Kits page, and print out and complete the relevant form.
If you have any questions, please contact us:
If you are in immediate need because a death has already occurred, order a direct cremation now.
If a death is imminent (a matter of days or weeks), visit the Cremstar Cremation Cost Calculator
for an estimate and to email yourself a customized "Order Now" link. If you are preparing for the future, visit our Planning Ahead section.
- By phone: (888) 802-0999, available 24/7. (Se Habla Español.)
- By email: [email protected]
- By chat: 7AM - 10PM Eastern Time, seven days a week; click on the round red chat button on the bottom right of the screen.
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