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Who Has the Right to Plan Funeral Services in Ohio?

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It can be difficult knowing where to begin when it comes to planning a loved one’s funeral:

  • Which funeral home do you choose?
  • What final disposition method would your lost loved one want?
  • Who even has the legal right to plan your loved one’s funeral service?

We understand the stress funeral planning can bring, especially as you’re coping with grief. However, asking these questions will help you make an informed decision and avoid family conflict, all while keeping a loved one’s final wishes in mind.

Your first step in planning a funeral—whether it be right now for a loved one or in the future for yourself—should be to determine who has the right to plan funeral services in the state in which you reside. Below we outline Ohio funeral planning laws and offer tips on how to appoint a decision maker in your family.

Planning a Funeral for a Loved One: Ohio Right of Disposition Law

While you are the person with the primary right to plan your own funeral, upon your passing, it’s the responsibility of your surviving loved one’s to follow through with those arrangements—that is, if they were already made.

According to Ohio revised code section 2108.80, an adult may execute a written declaration assigning a representative the right to make decisions around disposition, arrangements and purchased goods for final services, and final resting place.

If no arrangements were preplanned or no written declaration was prepared, Ohio law determines who has the right to make final decisions about a person's funeral services. In order, responsibility goes to:

  1. A surviving spouse.
  2. An only child or, if there is more than one surviving child, all of them collectively.
  3. Parent or parents.
  4. An only sibling or, if there is more than one surviving sibling, all of them collectively.
  5. Grandparent or grandparents.
  6. An only grandchild or, if there is more than one survivng grandchild, all of them collectively.
  7. Next of kin.
  8. Personal guardian, if there was one present at time of death.
  9. Any other person willing to assume the right.
  10. A state official.
  11. If the decendent is indigent, the public officer is responsible for arranging services.

Keep in mind if your loved one has chosen cremation, one of the most important tasks to complete is filling out a cremation authorization form.

>>>Related Resource: New Ohio Right of Disposition Guide, Effective September 11, 2022

Preplanning a Funeral: How to Appoint a Decision Maker

If you wish to name someone to carry out your final wishes (i.e. the first person in order mentioned above), then you must fill out an appointment of representation form that includes information specified by the State of Ohio: 

  • Your legal name and present address.
  • The appointed representative’s legal name and present address.
  • A statement that you willfully and voluntarily appoint said representative to have the right to plan your funeral services upon your passing.
  • A statement that all decisions made by said representative with respect to the right of disposition are binding. 

More details on the written declaration of assignment can be found in Ohio Code 2108.72.

Once the written document is complete, you must date and sign in front of a notary public or two adult witnesses who are not related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

If you are in the military, you may declare the person who will carry out your final wishes in the Record of Emergency Data provided by the Department of Defense.

Preplanning Your Own Funeral

Many individuals choose to preplan and/or prepay for funeral services to avoid any questions about who has the right to make final arrangement decisions for them. Preplanning a funeral also protects your surviving family members from sudden emotional and financial burden. 

So instead of tasking your surviving family members with planning your final arrangements down to the last detail, you too can prearrange your funeral by following these steps:

  1. Choose your funeral home of choice. The funeral home staff will help guide you through an extremely difficult time and ensure you and your family receive the care, comfort and service they deserve.
  2. Consider a place of eternal rest. Aside from traditional burial, there are several other resting places to consider: cremation, interment in a mausoleum, burial at sea, or body donation are additional options.
  3. Define personalization elements. This includes everything from the outfit you’d wear down to the music playing at your services. 

>>> Related Resource: My Loved One Prearranged a Funeral. Now What?

A Step-By-Step Guide to Preparing Funeral Services

Have you been appointed as decision maker? Our funeral planning checklist will provide you with the necessary steps and answer the most common questions we hear as you embark on planning final arrangements. Download for support as you plan your loved one’s celebration of life.

Download our funeral planning checklist

Jim Busch
Jim Busch
Owner and president of our firm. Fourth generation funeral director and certified crematory operator, Jim is guided by his principles in faith, family and friends. He loves to hear feedback from our families. Proudly serving Busch families since 1986.

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