Final Wishes – Who Will Make Your Funeral Arrangements?

Originally written in November 2010

Just received a call from a long time client who is the Conservator for his Mom – she just passed away and now the mortuary he wants to have do her final arrangements is stating they need ALL of her children to agree on what is to be done.

Under the CA Health and Safety Code – the agent under a Health Care Power of Attorney is first in line to make these decisions – if not pre-made. Then if not pre-made and no Agent – then it is the Surviving Spouse and if none the sole Adult Child and if more than one the majority of competent Adult Children. AND if there are none of those then the order goes Parents, Siblings, Next of Kin and finally the Public Guardian.

Have you set up your health care power of attorney? A properly done one can avoid Conservatorship of the Person to begin with. Once we turn 18 we are legally considered adults and NO ONE automatically has the right to make any medical or health care decisions for us.

Have you pre-planned you funeral arrangements?? I know it is hard to think of – but it is truly one of the greatest gifts you can give your loved ones. You can sometimes just do the pre-planning part and the mortuary will keep a file on you. The next level is also pre-paying which can have huge cost saving to your loved ones – not to mention alleviating the need for someone to front what can be a very expensive expense.

Food for thought – the consequences of not being pro-active in your planning can be tremendous and not always what we would even have contemplated.


  1. Delores Lyon says

    I agree that it is very important to have things like this outlined in your will specifically so that no one will wonder what to do once you have passed. It may seem like a challenging thing to figure out, but I think it would also be very relieving once you have finished it.

  2. I didn’t know that after you are 18 no one can automatically make any medical or health care decisions for us. It is interesting that you will have to think about those kind of things so young. I know that I was still reliant on my family at that time. More people need to understand this.

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