Substitute Senate Bill No. 1420

Public Act No. 01-131

AN ACT CONCERNING DISPOSITION OF REMAINS OF DECEASED PERSONS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 45a-318 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Any person eighteen years of age or older may execute in advance of such person's death a cremation authorization on a form authorized by the Department of Public Health for the incineration or cremation of such person's body upon the death of such person. Any such document shall be signed and dated by the maker, and attested in writing by two witnesses that the maker was of sound mind and capacity at the time of execution of the authorization. The maker shall include on the form authorized by the Department of Public Health the name, residence address and residence telephone number for the spouse or if there is no surviving spouse, then the next of kin or designated person, duly acknowledged in writing, who shall be notified within the forty-eight-hour waiting period prior to a cremation upon the death of such person. If the spouse, next of kin or designated person is unavailable at the time of death of such person, the funeral director shall refer this matter to the Court of Probate for the district of the domicile or residence of the deceased to grant custody and control to some suitable person.

[(a)] (b) The custody and control of the remains of deceased residents of this state shall belong to the surviving spouse of the deceased. If the surviving spouse had abandoned, and at the time of death was living apart from, the deceased, or if there is no spouse surviving, then such custody and control shall belong to the next of kin, unless the decedent, in a duly acknowledged writing, designated another person to have custody and control of [his] the remains of the decedent. The court of probate for the district of the domicile of the deceased may at any time, upon the petition of any of the kin or such person, award such custody and control to that person who seems to the court most fit to have the same. If a deceased resident of the state leaves no spouse, next of kin or designated person surviving, or if the spouse, next of kin or designated person cannot be contacted after due diligence to assume custody and control of the remains of such decedent as provided in this section, or if the spouse, next of kin or designated person refuses to assume such custody and control, the court of probate for the district of the domicile or residence of the deceased may, upon the petition of a selectman or chief officer of such town, a licensed funeral director or the director of health of such town, grant such custody and control to some suitable person. If a person has executed a cremation authorization for the incineration or cremation of such person's body upon death on a form authorized by the Department of Public Health, as described in subsection (a) of this section, and a good faith effort has been made to notify the spouse, next of kin or designated person, or an order from the Probate Court has been obtained, then such instructions may be relied upon by any person acting reasonably and in good faith in reliance upon such written instructions and shall permit any licensed funeral director to obtain a cremation certificate, a cremation permit and carry out the cremation, in accordance with the provisions of section 19a-323. If the funeral director's decision and conduct in the performance of a cremation was reasonable and warranted under the circumstances, then no person may challenge the funeral director's decision to obtain a cremation certificate, a cremation permit and the carrying out of such cremation.

[(b)] (c) This section shall not apply to the disposition of a body of a deceased person under the provisions of sections 19a-270 and 54-102; nor shall it affect the powers and duties of the chief medical examiner under the provisions of sections 19a-406 to 19a-408, inclusive.

Approved June 28, 2001