Washington State Legislation states that you have the right to control the disposition of your remains without the pre-death or post-death consent of another person. But protecting those rights is your responsibility – starting with understanding the legislation.
Washington State has passed ironclad legislation that will protect your wishes regarding the disposition of your remains. One way to do this is for you to sign a Disposition Authorization form and provide it to a funeral home or cemetery.
So, how do you go about this? Let’s start with the legislation. For your convenience, we’ll quote directly from the legislation, and then we’ll translate the “legalese” for better understanding.
PART 1: Right to control disposition of remains
“A person has the right to control the disposition of his or her own remains without the pre-death or post-death consent of another person. A valid written document expressing the deceased’s wishes regarding the place or method of disposition of his or her remains, signed by the deceased in the presence of a witness, is sufficient legal authorization for the procedures to be accomplished.”
Translation: Each of us has the right to pre-determine what happens to our body after we die – without the consent of others. One way to do this is for you to sign a Disposition Authorization form that expresses your wishes and have it witnessed.
PART 2: Right to control disposition of remains
“Prearrangements that are prepaid , or filed with a licensed funeral establishment or cemetery authority, under RCW 18.39.280 through 18.39.345 and chapter 68.46 RCW are not subject to cancellation or substantial revision by survivors.”
Translation: Friends and relatives cannot cancel, nor substantially revise, your wishes after your death, if you have prearranged and/or stated your wishes in writing in front of a witness. So this is pretty straightforward. You make a decision, then you sign a document regarding your decision.
PART 3: Right to control disposition of remains
“If the decedent has not made a prearrangement as set forth in subsection 2 of this section or the costs of executing the decedent’s wishes regarding the disposition of the decedent’s remains exceeds a reasonable amount or directions have not been given by the decedent, the right to control the disposition of the remains of a deceased person rests in, and the duty of the disposition and the liability for the reasonable cost of preparation, care, and disposition of such remains devolves upon the following in the order named:
Translation: If you don’t prearrange and/or file with a licensed funeral establishment or cemetery, the decision defaults to your next of kin. First is your spouse or state registered domestic partner, who may disagree with what you would have wanted and will simply use his or her own discretion. Next in the decision-making line are your adult children, then your surviving parents, and then your siblings. What if none of them can make up their mind or disagree about what you would have wanted? This is where family conflict can happen.
And this is why the legislation was introduced in the first place – to avoid family conflicts and ensure each of us has a right to our own disposition. By making this decision and putting it in action, you are ensuring that your final decision will be followed and you save your family from the discomfort and burden of having to guess at your wishes.
Contact an advance planning advisor to receive and register a Disposition Authorization.
We offer a complimentary Bleitz Funeral Personal Planning Guide. This guide documents funeral, cremation and cemetery preferences. A completed Personal Planning Guide provides a personal plan of action that helps relieve families of many of the decisions that must be made at the time of a loved one’s death.
It also documents additional family information such as military history, family heritage, estate information, insurance coverage and an inventory of personal property. The Personal Planning Guide is an important reference document for family.
Contact an advance planning advisor to receive a complimentary Personal Planning Guide.