right of disposition

Right of disposition, in mortuary law, is the right of family or friends to make decisions on the funeral, burial, cremation, or other methods of final disposition of the deceased. The order of the right of disposition varies depending on the jurisdiction, with varying weight given to the intentions of the deceased, the spouse, children, and other family members. Typically, a court gives preference to the intentions of the deceased regarding their disposition, then the spouse, and then their children, in that order (See Sherman v. Sherman, 330 N.J. Super. 638 (Ch.Div. 1999)). However, this can vary based on circumstances such as a spouse not making their opinions known in a timely manner. These quasi-property rights include how to arrange funerals, deciding what should be done to the body, what containers to use for the body, and where the casket should be buried or ashes to be kept. 

See also: secondary right of disposition

[Last updated in October of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]