154.30(5) (5) Liability of funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority.
154.30(5)(a) (a) If inability to agree exists among any individuals, as specified in sub. (3) (c) (intro.), no funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority is civilly or criminally liable for his or her refusal to accept the decedent's remains, to inter or otherwise dispose of the decedent's remains, or to complete the arrangements for the final disposition unless specifically directed to do so under an order of the probate court or unless the individuals in disagreement present the funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority with a written agreement, signed by the individuals, that specifies the final disposition.
154.30(5)(b) (b) A funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority that retains the remains of a decedent for final disposition before individuals specified in sub. (3) (c) (intro.) reach agreement or before the probate court makes a final decision under sub. (3) (c) may embalm the remains, unless the authorization for final disposition forbids embalming, or may refrigerate and shelter the remains while awaiting the agreement or the probate court's decision and may add the cost of embalming or refrigeration and shelter, as appropriate, to the final disposition costs.
154.30(5)(c) (c) If a funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority files a petition under sub. (3) (c) 1., the funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority may add to the cost of final disposition reasonable legal fees and costs associated with the court's review of the petition.
154.30(5)(d) (d) This subsection may not be construed to require or otherwise impose a duty upon a funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority to file a petition under sub. (3) (c) 1., and a funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority may not be held criminally or civilly liable for failing or omitting to file the petition.
154.30(5)(e) (e) In the absence of written notice to the contrary from an individual who claims control of the final disposition because of precedence under the order of priority of individuals specified under sub. (2) (a), no funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority, who relies in good faith on instructions concerning the final disposition from another individual who first claims control of the final disposition but has less precedence under the order of priority of individuals specified in sub. (2) (a), and who acts or omits to act in accordance with these instructions, is civilly or criminally liable or may be found guilty of unprofessional conduct for the action or omission.
154.30(6) (6) Liability for costs of final disposition. Notwithstanding s. 445.14, liability for the reasonable costs of the final disposition is from the declarant decedent's estate, as specified under s. 859.25 (1).
154.30(7) (7) Jurisdiction. The probate court for the county in which the decedent last resided has exclusive jurisdiction over matters that arise under this section.
154.30(8) (8) Authorization for final disposition.
154.30(8)(a) (a) An individual who is of sound mind and has attained age 18 may voluntarily execute an authorization for final disposition, which shall take effect on the date of execution. An individual for whom an adjudication of incompetence and appointment of a guardian of the person is in effect under ch. 54 or ch. 880, 2003 stats., is presumed not to be of sound mind for purposes of this subsection.
154.30(8)(b) (b) An authorization for final disposition may express the declarant's special directions, instructions concerning religious observances, and suggestions concerning any of the following:
154.30(8)(b)1. 1. Arrangements for a viewing.
154.30(8)(b)2. 2. Funeral ceremony, memorial service, graveside service, or other last rite.
154.30(8)(b)3. 3. Burial, cremation and burial, or other disposition, or donation of the declarant's body after death.
154.30(8)(c) (c) An authorization for final disposition requires a representative and one or more named successor representatives to carry out the directions, instructions, and suggestions of the declarant, as expressed in the declarant's authorization for final disposition, unless the directions, instructions, and suggestions exceed available resources from the decedent's estate or are unlawful or unless there is no realistic possibility of compliance.
154.30(8)(d) (d) Except as provided in par. (dm), an authorization for final disposition shall meet all of the following requirements:
154.30(8)(d)1. 1. List the name and last-known address, as of the date of execution of the authorization for final disposition, of each representative and each successor representative named, and be signed by each representative and each successor representative named.
154.30(8)(d)2. 2. Be signed and dated by the declarant, with the signature witnessed by 2 witnesses who each have attained age 18 and who are not related by blood, marriage, or adoption to the declarant, or acknowledged before a notary public. If the declarant is physically unable to sign an authorization for final disposition, the authorization shall be signed in the declarant's name by an individual at the declarant's express direction and in his or her presence; such a proxy signing shall take place or be acknowledged by the declarant in the presence of 2 witnesses or a notary public.
154.30(8)(dm) (dm) A document executed by a member of the U.S. armed forces in the manner and on a form provided by the federal department of defense that designates a person to direct the disposition of the member's remains is a valid authorization for final disposition under this section.
154.30(8)(e) (e) If any of the following has a direct professional relationship with or provides professional services directly to the declarant and is not related to the declarant by blood, marriage, or adoption, that person may not serve as a representative under the requirements of this subsection:
154.30(8)(e)1. 1. A funeral director.
154.30(8)(e)2. 2. A crematory authority.
154.30(8)(e)3. 3. A cemetery authority.
154.30(8)(e)4. 4. An employee of a funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority.
154.30(8)(e)6. 6. A health care provider.
154.30(8)(e)8. 8. A social worker.
154.30(8)(f) (f) The department shall prepare and provide copies of the authorization for final disposition form and accompanying information for distribution in quantities to funeral directors, crematory authorities, cemetery authorities, hospitals, nursing homes, county clerks, and local bar associations and individually to private persons. The department shall include, in information accompanying the authorization for final disposition form, at least the statutory definitions of terms used in the form, and an instruction to potential declarants to read and understand the information before completing the form. The department may charge a reasonable fee for the cost of preparation and distribution. The authorization for final disposition form distributed by the department shall be easy to read, in not less than 10-point type, and in the following form:
AUTHORIZATION FOR
FINAL DISPOSITION
I, .... (print name and address), being of sound mind, willfully and voluntarily make known by this document my desire that, upon my death, the final disposition of my remains be under the control of my representative under the requirements of section 154.30, Wisconsin statutes, and, with respect to that final disposition only, I hereby appoint the representative and any successor representative named in this document. All decisions made by my representative or any successor representative with respect to the final disposition of my remains are binding.
Name of representative      
Address        
Telephone number      
If my representative dies, becomes incapacitated, resigns, refuses to act, ceases to be qualified, or cannot be located within the time necessary to control the final disposition of my remains, I hereby appoint the following individuals, each to act alone and successively, in the order specified, to serve as my successor representative:
154.30(8)(f)1. 1. Name of first successor representative    
Address        
Telephone number      
154.30(8)(f)2. 2. Name of second successor representative    
Address        
Telephone number      
Suggested special directions      
Suggested instructions concerning religious
observances
     
Suggested source of funds for
implementing final disposition
directions and instructions    
This authorization becomes effective upon my death.
I hereby revoke any prior authorization for final disposition that I may have signed before the date that this document is signed.
I hereby agree that any funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority that receives a copy of this document may act under it. Any modification or revocation of this document is not effective as to a funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority until the funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority receives actual notice of the modification or revocation. No funeral director, crematory authority, or cemetery authority may be liable because of reliance on a copy of this document.
The representative and any successor representative, by accepting appointment under this document, assume the powers and duties specified for a representative under section 154.30, Wisconsin statutes.
Signed this   day of      
Signature of declarant      
I hereby accept appointment as representative for the control of final disposition of the declarant's remains.
Signed this   day of      
Signature of representative      
I hereby accept appointment as successor representative for the control of final disposition of the declarant's remains.
Signed this   day of      
Signature of first successor representative    
Signed this   day of      
Signature of second successor
representative      
I attest that the declarant signed or acknowledged this authorization for final disposition in my presence and that the declarant appears to be of sound mind and not subject to duress, fraud, or undue influence. I further attest that I am not the representative or the successor representative appointed under this document, that I am aged at least 18, and that I am not related to the declarant by blood, marriage, or adoption.
Witness (print name)      
Signature        
Address        
Date        
Witness (print name)      
Signature        
Address        
Date        
State of Wisconsin
County of        
On (date)     , before me personally appeared (name of declarant)       , known to me or satisfactorily proven to be the individual whose name is specified in this document as the declarant and who has acknowledged that he or she executed the document for the purposes expressed in it. I attest that the declarant appears to be of sound mind and not subject to duress, fraud, or undue influence.
Notary public    
My commission expires      
154.30(9) (9) Revocation of authorization for final disposition. A declarant may revoke an authorization for final disposition at any time by any of the following methods:
154.30(9)(a) (a) Cancelling, defacing, obliterating, burning, tearing, or otherwise destroying the authorization for final disposition or directing some other person to cancel, deface, obliterate, burn, tear, or otherwise destroy the authorization for final disposition in the presence of the declarant. In this paragraph, “cancelling" includes a declarant's writing on a declaration of final disposition, “I hereby revoke this declaration of final disposition," and signing and dating that statement.
154.30(9)(b) (b) Revoking in writing the authorization for final disposition. The declarant shall sign and date any written revocation under this subsection.
154.30(9)(c) (c) Executing a subsequent authorization for final disposition.
154.30(10) (10) Penalty. Any person who intentionally conceals, cancels, defaces, obliterates, or damages the authorization for final disposition of another without the declarant's consent may be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than 30 days or both.
154.30 History History: 2007 a. 58; 2009 a. 180, 197.
154.30 Annotation A family's interest in the remains of its deceased loved ones is simply too contingent to constitute a protected property interest. Sub. (3) (a) 2. provides that the next-of-kin's right to control final disposition of a loved one's remains is subject to the medical examiner's powers and duties under ch. 979. A medical examiner's discretion to order autopsies and to retain specimens is extremely broad. Accordingly, a family's right to dispose of the remains of its deceased loved ones is not “securely and durably" theirs, and thus it does not rise to the level of a constitutionally protected property interest. Olejnik v. England, 147 F. Supp. 3d 763 (2015).
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2017-18 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2019 Wis. Act 75 and through all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders filed before and in effect on January 28, 2020. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after February 1, 2020, are designated by NOTES. (Published 2-1-20)