The suffering and grief that this kind of loss brings makes even the thought of it is so unpleasant that most of us simply don’t. We tend not to make final arrangements before they are absolutely necessary, let alone look into the rules and laws that govern funeral and funeral arrangements. That’s ok.
The California Health and Safety Code spells out exactly who has the legal rights to make end-of-life care decisions.
The order of control is:
The laws that a mortuary must follow are quite specific, and it is also important to know that the laws governing hospice care are a bit different.
Most of us do not spend much time thinking about the laws and regulations for the legal rights to control the disposition, like many aspects of making final arrangements.
The health care providers and mortuary are well versed in the matters and are more than willing to help.
If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.
Many times it is easier for someone other than the next of kin to be the mortuary’s primary point of contact. This happens regularly and is not an issue. The mortuary similarly needs the next of kin to sign the forms to authorize the services.
The family and the mortuary must make a good faith effort to find the next of kin, but if no contact is made in a week (or ten days for a spouse or SRDP), the next level of kinship takes control.
The law does allow the legal next of kin to give up their rights, and a doctor can declare the legal next of kin medically unable to make the arrangements.
The only way for a non-family member to be able to authorize the arrangements is either through a DPOAHC or AHCD holder before the passing, or a court order or designation by the county public administrator after the passing.
There are no rules. Do the things that feel right with you and your family. Give yourself time to know what you want to do, and what your loved one would have wanted.
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