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Appointing an agent to handle funeral arrangements and more

The estate planning process is an excellent opportunity to designate the funeral arrangements you want. For example, if you wish to be cremated or buried and whether you prefer a small family gathering or a large, festive celebration of your life. It’s also a chance to put away some money so that your family doesn’t have to max out their credit cards, dig into their savings or “crowdfund” your final send-off.

Under Texas law, estate executors and others whom you’ve given power of attorney over your finances and other matters don’t automatically have the authority to determine what happens with your body and handle your funeral arrangements. You have the opportunity to appoint an agent using an “Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains” form.

Your agent can provide this form to funeral homes, cemeteries and other businesses to prove they have the authority to make decisions regarding your burial or cremation. You can be as detailed in the “Special Directions” section as you choose.

Your designated agent(s) must agree to accept the responsibility

The person you designate as your agent must also sign the form. You cannot nominate them without telling them. You can appoint multiple agents if you choose. Note that unless the agent is also the executor of the estate, they can’t use funds from the estate to pay for your arrangements. They will need to pay for them upfront and seek reimbursement later unless you’ve pre-paid for your funeral and other expenses.

You need to follow the appropriate procedures to make the appointment legal, such as having it notarized. That’s why it’s typically best to do it when you’re developing or amending your estate plan. 

If you don’t appoint an agent, Texas law designates that the responsibility falls to the surviving spouse. Next in line if there’s no surviving spouse is an adult child, then parents, siblings, an administrator of the estate and any other next of kin (in that order).

No one enjoys thinking about what will happen after they die, but estate planning provides the chance to make things easier on your loved ones and exert some control over what happens when you’re gone.

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