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New Jersey Statutes - Title 45 Professions and Occupations - 45:27-22 Control of funeral, disposition of remains.

Legal Research Home > New Jersey Laws > Professions and Occupations > New Jersey Statutes - Title 45 Professions and Occupations - 45:27-22 Control of funeral, disposition of remains.

45:27-22. Control of funeral, disposition of remains.

     22. a. If a decedent, in a will as defined in N.J.S.3B:1-2, appoints a person to control the funeral and disposition of the human remains, the funeral and disposition shall be in accordance with the instructions of the person so appointed. A person so appointed shall not have to be executor of the will. The funeral and disposition may occur prior to probate of the will, in accordance with section 40 of P.L.2003, c.261 (C.3B:10-21.1).

     In the case of an active duty service member who died while on active duty in any branch or component of the United States Armed Forces, including the New Jersey National Guard called to federal active duty, the person designated by the decedent as authorized to direct disposition, as listed on the decedent's United States Department of Defense Record of Emergency Data, DD Form 93, or its successor form, shall be the person appointed to control the funeral and disposition of the remains of the decedent.

     If the decedent has not left a will appointing a person to control the funeral and disposition of the remains or the United States Department of Defense Record of Emergency Data, DD Form 93, or its successor form, is not applicable, the right to control the funeral and disposition of the human remains shall be in the following order, unless other directions have been given by a court of competent jurisdiction:

     (1)     The surviving spouse of the decedent or the surviving civil union or domestic partner; except that if the decedent had a temporary or permanent restraining order issued pursuant to P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.) against the surviving spouse or civil union or domestic partner, or the surviving spouse or civil union or domestic partner is charged with the intentional killing of the decedent, the right to control the funeral and disposition of the remains shall be granted to the next available priority class as provided in this subsection.

     (2)     A majority of the surviving adult children of the decedent.

     (3)     The surviving parent or parents of the decedent.

     (4)     A majority of the brothers and sisters of the decedent.

     (5)     Other next of kin of the decedent according to the degree of consanguinity.

     (6)     If there are no known living relatives, a cemetery may rely on the written authorization of any other person acting on behalf of the decedent.

     For purposes of this subsection "domestic partner" means a domestic partner as defined in section 3 of P.L.2003, c.246 (C.26:8A-3).

     b.     A cemetery may permit the disposition of human remains on the authorization of a funeral director handling arrangements for the decedent, or on the written authorization of a person who claims to be, and is believed to be, a person who has the right to control the disposition. The cemetery shall not be liable for disposition pursuant to this authorization unless it had reasonable notice that the person did not have the right to control the disposition.

     c.     A cemetery shall not bury human remains of more than one person in a grave unless:

     (1)     directions have been given for the burials in accordance with this section on behalf of all persons so buried; or

     (2)     the rights to be buried in the grave were sold by the cemetery with explicit provision allowing separate sales of rights to burial at different depths in the grave.

     d.     A person who signs an authorization for the funeral and disposition of human remains warrants the truth of the facts stated, the identity of the person whose remains are disposed and the authority to order the disposition. The person shall be liable for damages caused by a false statement or breach of warranty. A cemetery or funeral director shall not be liable for disposition in accordance with the authorization unless it had reasonable notice that the representations were untrue or that the person lacked the right to control the disposition.

     e.     An action against a cemetery company relating to the disposition of human remains left in its temporary custody may not be brought more than one year from the date of delivery of the remains to the cemetery company unless otherwise provided by a written contract.

     L.2003, c.261, s.22; amended 2005, c.324, s.1; 2005, c.331, s.29; 2009, c.290; 2013, c.268.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014