Excellent question, worthy of much more discussion and space. A funeral director is given "custodial possession" a term of art giving rights for the act of disposition. Therefore, she has a legal duty to act as a "reasonable funeral director" would in the handling of the deceased, and all other aspects of care with the family. This duty of (professional) reasonable care also extends to her ability to determine "who"of disposition the next-of-kin may want. Illinois Rules of Descent and Distribution provide the logical order when deciding who has preference in making funeral arrangements. This preference actually may depend upon the responsible parties age, ability, location, and desire to complete the arrangements. Regardless, it is the funeral director’s duty to make this determination. Controversy arises when a client has made prearrangements and a reasonable family member disregards those wishes. The law is disparit in these situations, tending to view each case uniquely. For instance, if your mother had made specific arrangements to be cremated, but you, her only child with descendent authorization, make her arrangements and option for burial, the law is as likely (if your then sued by her estate) to regard your mother’s wishes as purely "aspirational" and find for the child because a person possesses no rights, once they have died. Alternatively, in as many cases, Illinois jurisdictions have found for the deceased’s estate reasoning that the deceased’s intentions were specific (ex: prepaid funeral), and that her strict intentions should have been followed. To best safeguard yourself, let you intentions be known by many, and make your plans, funeral or otherwise, definite.

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