Can funeral plans be changed without power of attorney notification?

1 answer | Last updated: May 09, 2009
A fellow caregiver asked...

Can a person, who is not of best health, with the help of her daughters, change funeral arrangements without notifying power of attorney first?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

 Probably. The law gives individuals broad discretion to change their minds when setting out one of the most personal decisions imaginable: what to do with their bodies after death.


As long as the woman is mentally competent to enter a contract, she is free to change funeral arrangements. For this purpose, “mentally competent” would generally require that she understood what she was doing and had control over her actions when she revised her funeral arrangements. This is a fairly easy legal standard to meet--even for those who are seriously ill, unless the illness genuinely affects their reasoning powers.


Another possible way her plans could be challenged would be if there was good evidence that the daughters exercised such influence over their mother that the decision to change funeral plans was not her own. This, however, would be difficult to prove, as most courts would also require proof that the daughters somehow stood to benefit from the arrangement.