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Probate code changes (new law)

Published (5/29/2009)
By Mike Cook
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Funeral directors should now have more clarity regarding the disposition of a body upon death.

Effective May 21, 2009, a new law clarifies what documents control and what the order of relationships of the decedent are for whom has say over what happens to the body after death.

Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park), who sponsors the law with Sen. Linda Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park), said the changes come from a Health Department request.

When someone dies, the person who decides what to do with the body is determined by order of degree of kinship. Previous law had an order for seven people: whomever is appointed in a document signed by the decedent; the spouse; an adult child or majority of the adult children; the surviving parent or parents, with each having equal authority; an adult sibling or majority of adult siblings; person or persons in the next degree of kinship specified by law; and the appropriate court authority.

New language adds new numbers six-10: adult grandchild or majority of the adult grandchildren; grandparent or grandparents, with each having equal authority; adult nieces and nephews, or a majority of them; person or persons who were acting as guardians; and “an adult who exhibited special care and concern.” The person or persons in the next degree of kinship specified by law and the appropriate court authority now rank 11th and 12th.

It also states that an advanced directive no longer has to be notarized; changes the amount of property that a person could collect by affidavit from $20,000 to $50,000; and provides timelines for a probate court to correct their errors.


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