|Alexander D. Blackwell
Denton Law Firm
555 Jefferson Street
Paducah, Kentucky 42001
Funeral Planning and Declarations in Kentucky
In April of 2016 the Kentucky Legislature unanimously passed Senate Bill 103 which created a new statutory section dealing specifically with funeral planning declarations, an area of law which the Commonwealth of Kentucky had not previously addressed. This unanimous passage shows that the Legislature has placed utmost importance on the ability of an individual to dictate what is to happen to their remains upon their death. Subsequent to its passage, Senate Bill 103 became codified as KRS 367.93101 – 367.93121, with portions of this new statutory scheme becoming effective as early as July 15, 2016. This legislation is now fully in effect. As this legislation is a first of its kind for Kentucky, it is critical for not only the Declarants and their Designees, but also those employed in the funeral planning industry, to be aware of this legislation.
This new legislation allows for an individual eighteen (18) years or older to provide instructions regarding their funeral services and disposition of their bodily remains. The first option provided to a Declarant allows the Declarant to decide who shall serve as their Designee, as defined in KRS 367.93101. A Designee is the individual assigned to carry out the instructions set forth in the declaration. The Declarant can also choose the option to forego appointing a Designee. Next the Declarant provides what they wish to happen to their remains following their death such as burial, cremation, or entombment. Lastly, the Declarant has the option to provide specific details regarding their funeral services, ceremonial arrangements, headstones, monuments, etc. While these details may include listing a specific funeral home, cemetery, or other similarly situated company, a declaration is not binding upon the companies listed in the Declaration unless full payment for the services has been rendered.
A Declarant is able to create their declaration with a form which must be signed and dated by the Declarant and two witnesses and must also be acknowledged by a notary public. Declarants also have the option to use the Funeral Planning Declaration Form provided by the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General which lays out each of the decisions which are to be made by the Declarant. This form will require similar signatures and attestation by a notary. It is important to note that this type of declaration cannot be included in a will, power of attorney, or other similar estate planning document. A funeral planning declaration must be a separate document which only handles details surrounding the handling of the Declarant’s remains upon their death. Upon properly completing this form, the specifications contained within will be enacted and shall be followed upon the Declarant’s death.
This statutory section includes specific requirements of the witnesses and the Designees. A Designee cannot be the provider of the funeral or cemetery services or the individual responsible for disposing of the body. However, individuals related by marriage, birth, or adoption are exempted from this portion of the statutes. Additionally, the statute provides that the Declarant’s Power of Attorney or Designee cannot serve as a witness to the document.
This article provides only a brief explanation of Funeral Planning Declarations. If you have any further questions regarding this new form, or any aspect of estate planning, and would like to further discuss these issues please contact Alex Blackwell at 270-450-8253.