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Posted Fri, 10/29/2010 - 10:16
In Washington state our law regarding Right to Control Disposition contains the following heirarchy as to who must authorize disposition, whether it be burial or cremation:
NEW PROPOSAL: (a) The agent so designated by the deceased. (see below - wording mine)
(b) The surviving adult children of the decedent.
(c) The surviving parents of the decedent.
(d) The surviving siblings of the decedent.
(e) A person acting as a representative of the decedent under the signed authorization of the decedent.
In the case of classes other than spouse, (children, parents, siblings) all members of such class have to agree on the form of disposition, and all must sign the disposition authorization. The provider must make a good-faith effort to locate all members. Occasionally this has been a problem, but mostly just in delaying the actual disposition.
In Seattle we have a very large active People's Memorial Association (over 150,000 members). They provide, mostly, low-cost cremation services.
PMA is proposing changes to this law (one proposal above is in bold). They wish to have the new class, Designated Agent, take precedence over all other classes, including surviving spouse.
Their second proposal is to change "ALL" to "A MAJORITY" of members of the authorizing class e.g. of three children, only two have to agree on form of disposition.
We are exploring how other states handle Right to Control. It is our understanding that at least half of the states do allow some form of "Designated Agent" but we don't know where such DA is placed in the list of classes.
As a state association, we want to be certain we understand all the ramifications of these proposed changes. We don't necessarily want to oppose the changes, but we want to make sure if such changes do go forward we do it proactively rather than reactively. Anybody's input will be most appreciated!
Judy Faaberg, Executive Director
Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association