Most people know that if they want to control how their property is distributed upon death, they need to have a valid Will or Trust in place to guide the disposition of such property. Otherwise, the property will be distributed according to statute. But, have you wondered who decides what happens to your body after your death?
The answer is that the law provides a list of persons who are empowered to dispose of your body parts and make funeral/burial arrangements for you after your death. This is found in R.C. 2108.81(B). That statutory division pretty much carves out an order of priority among immediate family members from surviving spouse to children to surviving parents, to your sibling(s), grandparent(s), then grandchild(ren), and so on.
If you have a loved one who is not a member of the immediate family or recognized by law as immediate family, or if you want to have specific religious procedures that your family members may not follow, it is probably a good idea to sit down before you’re dead and specify who is going to have the right of disposition of your body and burial arrangement. You don’t do this in your Will. Instead, Ohio allows anyone over 18 (and of sound mind) to make a written declaration assigning an individual or group of individuals to direct the disposition of their body (or any part thereof), to make funeral arrangements and purchase goods and services for one’s cremation. See, R.C. 2108.70 – 2108.90.
The assignment document must include twelve items of information. Most importantly, it must identify the person making the declaration and include the declarant’s signature, which must be acknowledged by a notary or witnessed by two other competent adults. See, R.C. 2108.72(A). In addition to assigning the “right of disposition” of your body, etc. to a specific individual or group of individuals, the form can (and should) specify your preferences as to disposition and burial arrangements, and also provide instructions for the payment of attendant goods and services.
If you want to create a declaration to assign the right of disposition of your body, etc., contact The Ondrejech Law Firm, LLC (330-441-2027). At the same time, we can talk about drafting a Will and fix you up with a healthcare power of attorney, and a living will. These services can all be bundled for a flat fee. After that, you can rest assured that your assignee will do what you want — and not just whatever they want — with your body.
Mark S. Ondrejech
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