Will Your Dying Wishes be Honored? Cremation in Washington State

A cremation authorization form is one of the most important documents you will need to complete if you prefer to have your remains cremated once you pass away. The authorization form is a legal document that the person desirous of cremation must sign before death or direct their next of kin to sign after death. 

If you wonder whether the power of attorney you prepared will give your next of kin decision-making authority concerning your cremation, the answer is no. A power of attorney is not valid after someone passes away. The designated agent can only make decisions for you while you are alive.


Washington State law is very specific about who has the right to make decisions at the time of passing. RCW 68.50.160 states that a person can make written arrangements. If none exist, then the order of rights to make the decision is as follows:


  1. A designated agent through a cremation directive or will (not a POA),
  2. A surviving spouse,
  3. The majority of surviving adult children,
  4. Surviving parents,
  5. The majority of surviving adult siblings, or
  6. A court-appointed guardian.


If you have specific wishes, don’t keep your desire to be cremated upon your death a secret. Tell your family, friends, and lawyer. Your casual remarks during life may not be taken seriously by those responsible for your funeral and or disposition arrangements after you die. Remember, emotions will be running high for those you leave behind, so you want to be crystal clear about your wishes to prevent any disputes.


A cremation directive or similar document can achieve this objective. Your lawyer can easily prepare this document. It should include the same disposition information found in your will. This document could be crucial because wills frequently aren’t located or read until days or weeks after the funeral. Sadly, some wills remain misplaced forever.

Your cremation directive can be as specific as you like. For example, you can state, “Upon my death, I direct that my remains be cremated and my ashes scattered from a ferry on Puget Sound.” Or, “Upon my death, I direct that my remains be cremated immediately with no services following, either public or private, and my ashes interred in the family plot in XYZ Cemetery.”

As life moves so quickly, people are often thinking about new ways of enjoying theirs, be it new adventures or experiences. They are not thinking about death. As dark as it sounds, funeral services and cemeteries, therefore, remain the norm.

More recently, however, companies worldwide are offering other options. There are many exciting substitutes to the “usual” funeral and burial options prescribed by the deathcare industry. Many people have begun exploring nontraditional funerals — some are low cost while some are green burial options. Others are creative and personalized to individuals.


These alternatives may require specific and advanced planning, which is all the more reason to document your final wishes in a written directive and lift the burden from your loved ones. Without one, there are no guarantees your next of kin will follow your wishes.


Our estate plans include a cremation directive. Having this document to outline your desires will comfort you during your lifetime and your family and friends when you are gone. Call us today. We will be happy to discuss how you envision the honoring of your last wishes.

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