“Final Disposition” means the final disposal of a deceased human being whether by interment, entombment, inurnment, burial at sea, cremation, or any other means and includes, but is not limited to, any other disposition of remains for which a segregated charge is imposed.
Georgia Code § 31-21-7 outlines who can implement final disposition, including how a person can make his or her wishes known for the time of his/her own death and have it carried out by next of kin. It also ranks—in exact order of kinship or relationship to the deceased—who has the right to make decisions regarding the final disposition of a deceased person.
In order to implement final disposition for a deceased, an individual MUST be 18 years or older AND be of sound mind. Funeral directors frequently get this question.
Minor children do not have right of disposition for a parent; they are not 18 years old.
Divorced spouses do not have right of disposition for their former spouse; sometimes people are confused because there may be minor children involved. Because minors don’t have right of disposition, they can’t pass their right to a divorced parent.
Individuals who are mentally impaired don’t have the right of disposition. For example, a person suffering from a diagnosed illness such as Alzheimer’s who has reached the stage of impairment, does not have right of disposition.
In those examples, the right passes to the next individual.
A person who has signed a preneed contract, whether or not it is paid for, can direct their own final disposition and plans. Those plans must be followed unless the estate can’t cover the cost or unless the person has specifically appointed a person with the right to change their wishes.
If there are multiple people with the same level of disposition rights (children, for example), the majority decision prevails.
People may lose their right of disposition by failing to act in a timely manner, as outlined below.