When someone in California dies, the California Health and Safety Code imposes on certain people the obligation to dispose of the remains of a deceased person, to determine the location and conditions of interment and to make arrangements for funeral goods and services to be provided. Those same people also have the obligation to pay for the reasonable cost to dispose of the remains. Here’s a list in descending order of priority of those who have the responsibility to attend to the dead:
1. An agent under a power of attorney for health care.
2. The competent surviving spouse.
3. The sole surviving competent adult child of the decedent, or if there is more than one competent adult child of the decedent, the majority of the surviving competent adult children.
4. The surviving competent parent or parents of the decedent. If one of the surviving competent parents is absent, the remaining competent parent shall be vested with the rights and duties.
5. The sole surviving competent adult sibling of the decedent, or if there is more than one surviving competent adult sibling of the decedent, the majority of the surviving competent adult siblings.
6. The surviving competent adult person or persons respectively in the next degrees of kinship, or if there is more than one surviving competent adult person of the same degree of kinship, the majority of those persons.
7. The public administrator when the deceased has sufficient assets.
In a related blog post, read “What To Do When Someone Dies“.