Planning for your burial is another important part of one’s estate that can often be overlooked when it comes time to planning other aspects like creating a last will and testament, assigning an executor, or creating various types of trusts to avoid tax implications of dividing an estate. However, if you have a family or need to observe certain religious burial practices, it is vitally important that you create an Authorization for Final Disposition to ensure that your final wishes are carried out at your burial.
An Authorization for Final Disposition allows individuals to make advance arrangements for their funeral viewing, suggest which religious observances should be followed, and suggest a source of funds to pay for the burial. The Authorization for Final Disposition also gives instructions on what type of funeral ceremony, memorial service, graveside service, or another last rite the individual may desire and inform family members whether a burial, cremation, or other disposition or donation of the remains is desired.
Without a signed Authorization for Disposition letter, Wisconsin law provides a hierarchy of surviving heirs who have the authority to make decisions on final burial arrangements. Wisconsin’s order of priority for burial procedures is as follows:
- Surviving husband or wife
- Surviving children
- Surviving parents
- Surviving brothers or sisters
- Other lineal descendants in the priority order spelled out in the Wisconsin statutes
- Guardian at the time of death
- Any other person willing to control the funeral and final disposition who attests in writing that they have made a good faith effort and could not locate any of the persons in the above priority list
As is stated, surviving spouses have priority over children, even if they are fully grown. In the event there are only surviving children, disagreements can emerge between the group over what exactly the final burial arrangements will be, so creating an Authorization for Final Disposition can be a way to help alleviate this kind of strife when someone passes away.
Furthermore, the law does not give any authority to long-term partners who are not married but again, an Authorization for Final Disposition can name any individual as the person with the authority to execute final burial wishes. Drafting a form and having it properly authorized is a relatively quick and simple process, requiring only two witnesses or one notary for the declarant to make his or her final burial arrangements officially known and hopefully carried out as they would hope.
Madison Trust and Estate Lawyers
The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.