Being Body Conscious

Estate Planning, Probate, Wills

Given my father’s act of donating his body to science upon his passing, I thought I would touch upon the fact that in the State of New Jersey, there is a 10-day mandatory wait to probate a Will. Why is that important?

Couple that probate delay with a family dispute over funeral arrangements, or actions that could render a bodily donation moot (cremation or embalming being the foremost concerns), how can a person best plan to have their wishes for bodily donation honored?

In New Jersey, a person may appoint a “Funeral Agent” under their Will in accordance with N.J.S.A. 45:27-22 (as with all Statutes, this may at times be subject to revision). This agent’s role may include authorizing a funeral home to carry out the decedent’s wishes for bodily donation.

This statute is supported by Section 40 of P.L.2003, c.261 (C.3B:10-21.1), as it pertains to disposition of a body prior to the probate of a Will and the appointment of an Executor/trix. An attorney licensed in New Jersey and familiar with matters estate and probate can advise and craft a Will to reflect a client’s intent of bodily donation, to include Funeral Agency provisions.

However, it is important to note that proper application/pre-registration with a chosen medical/scientific entity, while living, should be done if it is your intent to donate. Likewise, there is no guarantee that said entity has to accept a bodily donation, even with or without an earlier application having been made (each program sets their own perimeters for acceptable condition of a body upon donation).

In all events, those triggers for rejection of a donation, and whether or not bodily remains will be returned to a family once all usefulness has been reached (and in what condition), should be well defined in the application/pre-registration process an individual will undertake with their chosen medical/scientific entity.

*Photo art courtesy of Pixabay

Related Posts