It Can Be Your Funeral in Pennsylvania

On December 11, 2010, I posted a column entitled, “It’s Your Funeral – Or Is It?” In that post I painted a worst-case situation where a scorned wife might put her husband’s cremains (cremated remains) in voodoo candles or a Porta-Johnny at a Korn concert. I said that a decedent’s control over his body ends at death and court cases have established that a person has no property interest in the body that extends past death. Although it makes my mouth taste as if it was full of cremains, I am forced to admit that I was wrong with regard to Pennsylvania.

My esteemed colleague, H. Amos Goodall, Jr., of State College, Pennsylvania, has informed me of an often-overlooked Pennsylvania law. This provision, which pertains to health-care powers of attorney, allows a properly appointed health care agent to “make anatomical gifts, dispose of the remains and consent to autopsies.” 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 5456. I am now revising my Pennsylvania power of attorney to include these powers.

Therefore, if you are a Redwings fan in a family of Penguin zealots you can now ensure that they will not flush your cremains in the men’s room at CONSOL Energy Center or add them to a concrete lawn sculpture of Iceburgh. Appoint a fellow Redwings fan (assuming you can find one in southwest Pennsylvania) as your health care agent and give him or her authority to make your final arrangements–for example, burial in Allegheny Cemetery under a massive monument with a Redwings wheel and wings. For a proper health-care power of attorney, call my Pittsburgh office below.


John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2011 John B. Payne, Attorney

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