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Who Claims the Body Under Florida Law

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Considering what will happen with one’s body after he or she has passed is an unsettling topic that most would rather avoid. However, what is worse than thinking about this issue is neglecting it, and having loved ones disagree over the matter. Since this is not a topic discussed in many wills, the possibility for dispute is high. Luckily, avoiding this kind of scenario is possible with the help of a Miami probate attorney.

Here is what the law has to say about this particular subject, and how a lawyer can help prevent future disputes regarding it.

Statutes Governing the Issues

Unfortunately, this area of Florida probate law comes with quite a bit of gray area. For this reason, it is best navigated with an experienced legal professional. That said, there are two statutes that shed some light on who can make decisions regarding one’s body after death. The first of these is Florida Statute 497.002(2), which essentially states that those of sound mind and body can make their own decisions regarding body disposal prior to death. This would include providing another individual with the power to make these decisions, such as a spouse or child.

On the other hand, Florida Statute 497.005 declares that if no such designation was made and more than one person has legal claim to a body, the medical examiner should use the Florida intestacy statute to determine which heir supersedes the others. Thus, the situation follows the same protocol as when an individual dies without a will in place.

Neither of these statutes is without controversy. Though the first seems straightforward, there has been debate regarding how much control one should have over what is done with his or her body after death. After all, it will not be that individual actually seeing that these wishes are carried out. Therefore, the best way to ensure one’s directions are adhered to, is to make arrangements with a funeral home in advance. Of course, this is not always a realistic option. With that in mind, here are some alternative steps people can take to communicate their wishes for this sensitive matter.

Steps for Creating a Plan

Even if an individual does not hold strong beliefs regarding what should be done with his or her body after death, it is important to communicate some sort of directive to avoid confusion after the fact. There are some matters that are commonly decided in advance, such as whether one wishes to be an organ donor. If this is the case, the individual should carry an organ donor card and inform loved ones of this choice. However, that alone does not go as far as to detail how the body should be handled after passing.

At the very least, one should express his or her wishes to a next of kin. Ideally, this would be in writing to avoid disputes over what was said. To take this a step further, one can designate this legal authority to a particular person in his or her will. The will can also detail these wishes, so that there is little room for misunderstanding. Finally, as previously mentioned, one can go as far as to make formal arrangements with a funeral director and pay for the process upfront. In fact, this is quite common. Many who hold religious beliefs regarding the afterlife might want to be buried in a particular church’s cemetery or a specific mausoleum. Arranging this well in advance removes the burden from loved ones later on, when they are more likely to be going through an emotional time.

If you have questions about drafting a will in Florida, you’ve come to the right place. Schedule a free consultation with a Miami probate attorney at Graham Legal today to get the answers you need to obtain peace of mind.

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