If a parent dies that was widowed, unmarried, not in a registered domestic partnership or civil union at the time of death, and/or did not appoint a funeral agent, the right to control disposition moves to all surviving adult children, each who share the right equally.
Children include all children related by blood and/or legal adoption. Only children 18 years or older have the right to control the funeral. A majority of the children must be in agreement on the final arrangements before the funeral director can proceed.
- Legally adopted children have the same rights as natural-born children.
- Stepchildren may only authorize the funeral of their natural parent.
- Foster children have no right to plan the funeral of a foster parent.
If the child(ren) are not yet aged 18, the right to control moves to the parents of the decedent, or the siblings of the decedent if parents are no longer living. If the children are minors, and the surviving parent was not still legally married to the decedent at the time of death, that surviving parent has no right to control disposition unless designated as a funeral agent.