Obtains personal facts about the decedent
Obtains certification of the cause of death from the certifying physician, corner, or medical examiner
Obtains authorization for final disposition of the body, in accordance with state law
Completes the personal and disposition sections of the death certificate
Files the completed certificate with the local or state vital records registrar’s office per state law
1. The Decendent's Last Will and Testament generally dictates who has the legal authority on the behalf of the estate.
2. In the absence of a Will, the authority passes by way of Intestate Succession:
Adult Child(ren) (to include adult grandchild(ren) and so forth)
Children of siblings
Children of Aunts and Uncles
3. A former spouse, who is a biological parent, has the legal authority to act on behalf of the decedent's child(ren), unless that parent properly waives that right.
in the event the decedent has a Will, the surviving parent will yield the authority to an individual appointed to handle the affairs.
4. In the event of a dispute between family members and in the absence of a will, adult siblings, parent or grandparents are next in line, followed by aunts and uncles.
5. The court has the ultimate authority and looks to what is in the best interest of the minor child(ren).
It is the policy of this office to assume legal next of kin status of a decedent until and unless investigation and / or family disputes arise. The office does not require proof of marriage or domestic partnership unless there is a dispute. In the event of a dispute then proof of a blood relationship among persons where one is a direct descendent or ascendant will be required.
Each family member on the same line of succession has equal rights to the decedent. For instance, if it is determined that the decedent’s next of kin is their adult children and they have more than one child, then each one of the decedent’s children has equal rights to claim the decedent’s body and make funeral arrangements for the decedent.
The Medical Examiner’s Office will not interject in the personal matters of family members that have equal rights in the line of succession, however if there is a dispute among the legal next of kin, the decedent will not be released, until the family can come to a mutual agreement.
PROPERTY AND REMAINS RELEASE GUIDANCE FOR FUNERAL DIRECTORS