Burial and cremation are only two ways to put people to rest when they die. The reasons one may prefer one over the other — or another way entirely — depend on a number of factors. These include religious preference, military service and overall costs.
However, if there is no stipulation in a will or other estate planning document describing a person’s wishes, rights of final disposition defer to a number of individuals depending on the situation.
Georgia’s next of kin priorities
According to Georgia statute, rights of final disposition fall in a certain order if no instruction appears in the person’s estate plans. Priority begins with the deceased’s spouse. This does not include divorcees. With no living spouse, the rights fall to living, adult-aged children. Minors do not have final rights of disposition.
In the event of multiple adult children, Georgia allows a majority preference to make the call. This assumes the siblings have performed due diligence to confirm said majority.
With no spouse or children, it falls to the decedent’s parents, followed by siblings and then by grandparents. From there, rights of disposition fall to a person’s guardian, the personal representative of the estate, a person in the next degree of kinship or a member of the state.
An estate plan’s solution
Assuming no one listed here bears the responsibility, rights of disposition fall to anyone willing to exercise them. When planning for death, it is important to learn more information about the specific case and communicate with family and resources to ensure all wishes have proper documentation beforehand.