Control Disposition of Remains


In the event that the decedent did not name an agent, Public Health Law ยง4201 also designates in descending priority those individuals which shall have the right to control the disposition of the decedent's remains:

  • Person designated in written instrument;
  • Surviving spouse;
  • Domestic partner
  • Any of the decedent's surviving children over the age of 18
  • Either of the decedent's parents
  • Any of the decedent's surviving siblings (brothers or sisters) over the age of 18
  • A guardian appointed pursuant to Article 17 or Article 17-a of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act (SCPA) or Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law
  • Person 18 years or older now eligible to receive an estate distribution, in the following order:
  • Grandchildren
  • Great-grandchildren
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Grand-nieces and grand-nephews
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and uncles
  • First cousins
  • Great-grandchildren of Grandparents
  • Second cousins
  • The duly appointed fiduciary of the decedent's estate
  • Close friend or other relative who is reasonably familiar with the decedent's wishes, including his or her religious or moral beliefs, when no one higher on the list is available, willing, or competent to act; (Note: This person must complete an "At-Need Written Statement of Person Having the Right to Control Disposition" form)
  • Public Administrator (or the same official in a county not having a public administrator); or, anyone willing to act on behalf of the decedent who completes the "At-Need Written Statement" form

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