Anyone but THEM!
August 8, 2013 1:09 PM   Subscribe

From what I understand, in the state of Arizona (and many others), if a legal adult dies without a spouse or children, any living parents would be responsible for the disposal of the remains. Is there anything this adult can do to assign that role to people OTHER than the living parents?

I'm asking for a young adult friend who has been fully alienated from her parents for many years (they were highly abusive in her childhood). She is setting up her benefits, wills, etc and the idea her parents, who would completely ignore her wishes, are still legally responsible for her remains horrifies her. She'd like to know what legal steps she can take to assign someone who would respect her wishes.
posted by _paegan_ to Law & Government (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is adult adoption a thing in Arizona, whereby she could be adopted by a trusted adult friend with all the legal ramifcations worked out regarding her non claim against the adult's estate? Is she young enough to legally emancipate herself/is adult emancipation a thing?
posted by tilde at 1:13 PM on August 8, 2013

If she's getting her will put together, this would be a perfect question to ask of the attorney who is doing that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:17 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

You want something like this (see page 15)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:17 PM on August 8, 2013

I am not your/her lawyer, and I'm not an Arizona lawyer. This is not legal advice.

A quick google search turns up this statute, which prescribes the order in which different parties are tasked with making burial arrangements.

Parents are #5 on the list. #2 is a party with a durable power of attorney.

Consult a lawyer in Arizona, but if your friend executes a durable power of attorney, I expect it can be limited to funerary arrangements. If that is consistent with AZ law, she could cut her parents out of the picture.

Again, I'm not your/her lawyer, and this is not legal advice to you or her.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:18 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

I didn't even know what to google. Thank you for the link.
posted by _paegan_ at 1:50 PM on August 8, 2013

Not knowing what her wishes are I'm not sure if this is an option for her or not, but she could donate her body to science which should prevent her parents from taking responsibility for her remains.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:51 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

My grandmother and her second husband made arrangements for cremation through the Neptune society.
posted by brujita at 2:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Even WITH pre-planning set up for organ/body donation as well as a particular type of disposal of the remains (burial or cremation), it is still best if she gets that durable power of attorney PLUS a medical power of attorney: she needs BOTH to be sure she can keep her parents away. She can name the same person on both documents; she should also make sure to name a backup person, in case the primary is unable to serve.

The last thing she'd want is to be sick in a hospital and have her parents take over decisions about her medical care, or die and have them making decisions about her funeral or organ donation --- and without a legal medical power of attorney, doctors WILL go with what the family says instead of what her friends say she would want. The durable power of attorney won't protect her as well as the medical one if she's alive but incapacitated, while the medical one usually ends at death.
posted by easily confused at 3:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

With organ donation set up, the parents/next of kin cannot stop the process (because organ donation is very time critical, and for other ethical reasons). This may be true of whole body donation (your friend can go be a lab cadaver). Have your friend call the organization(s) that are most appealing for body donation. Make sure they and all the relevant authorities have all of the relevant paperwork on hand.
posted by bilabial at 4:47 PM on August 8, 2013

For other people reading this question, keep in mind the above doesn't apply in all jurisdictions - where I live (Australia), next of kin can prevent organ donation even when the person in question signed the govt paperwork while alive.
posted by Ashlyth at 11:06 PM on August 8, 2013

Yep, gotta agree with Ashlyth: depending on the jurisdiction, a lot of places here in the US will also choose to go with the family's preferences, no matter if an organ donation is signed or not. Do NOT depend on ONLY having a signed organ donation card to ensure your wishes are carried out.
posted by easily confused at 2:34 AM on August 9, 2013

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