End of life planning and the form you need to know about

Many times, families assume they know who the Next of Kin is and later learn they are wrong. Knowing who Texas law designates is important when making end-of-life arrangements. However, even more critical is knowing what to do if you want to designate someone other than your Next of Kin to handle your arrangements.

Texas official order of Next of Kin

The Texas Health & Safety Code outlines the priority order for Next of Kin. First on the list, and surprising to many people, is specific written instructions. A correctly executed written document takes higher priority than a spouse. The exact list according to Texas Health & Safety Code Sec. 711.002:

(1)  the person designated in a written instrument signed by the decedent;

(2)  the decedent’s surviving spouse;

(3)  any one of the decedent’s surviving adult children;

(4)  either one of the decedent’s surviving parents;

(5)  any one of the decedent’s surviving adult siblings;

(6)  any one or more of the duly qualified executors or administrators of the decedent’s estate; or

(7)  any adult person in the next degree of kinship in the order named by law to inherit the estate of the decedent.

Essential information if choosing cremation

Although the code states the minimum requirement, most funeral homes request all parties at the same level of Kinship sign if cremation is chosen. This ensures everyone with a legal right to decide are aware of the cremation since the process is irreversible.

Designating another person

You can designate any competent adult to make your arrangements IF you meet State requirements. The best way to do this, and avoid possible issues, is to use the state provided form called the Texas Appointment for Disposition of Remains.

This is ideal for families with a large number of children; for those not in a legally recognized marriage structure (including non-registered common law); and for those with estranged family members. In general, it’s a good idea for anyone wanting to designate who makes their arrangements. As always, if you have questions about the form or legal kinship, you should seek legal counsel.

Editorial Note: This article was submitted by Frank Seddio, General Manager & Funeral Director at  . He may be reached at 214-343-4040. See ad pages 26-27