Texas law allows an individual (“Decedent”) to appoint someone to make decisions about how to handle the Decedent’s funeral and burial or cremation. The Decedent can execute a document called “Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains” (“Appointment”). In the Appointment, the Decedent can list several individuals to be in charge of the Decedent’s final wishes, as well as provide specific details about how the Decedent prefers to be buried or cremated. The Appointment allows the Decedent to direct the agent as to language to be placed on a gravestone, where the Decedent wishes to be buried or cremated, and other specific wishes the Decedent might have for a funeral and other end of life decisions.
The Appointment specifically authorizes cemetery organizations, funeral directors, and other such businesses to act under the document and accept the agent’s authority to make those final decisions for the Decedent.
To be valid, the Appointment must be written or typewritten and signed with a notarized acknowledgment. Such instructions may also be provided in an otherwise valid will, but providing such documents in a will could present problems if the Decedent wishes to change the end of life decisions. Because a will is a detailed legal document, amending a will is an involved process; whereas executing a new Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains can be significantly simpler.