Films and television programs often show families gathered for the reading of a will. It always reveals a stunning plot twist. Although real-world wills are often less surprising, they can be personal, emotional and result in legally meaningful rights and obligations.

In Minnesota, a will can leave instructions for someone’s “final disposition,” including funeral and burial procedures. Minnesota Not every state legally recognizes a will’s instructions for what should happen to its author’s body after death, but Minnesota does, if properly drafted. The state also Minnesotans other options leaving instructions and for what instructions are legal to carry out.

Proper documents will usually be obeyed

Instructions that are written, dated and signed before witnesses (as wills are) can be legally valid in Minnesota even when not part of a will. The statute says the person named in the document “shall faithfully carry out” the directions.

The statute suggests some exceptions to keep in mind. The directions must be “reasonable and otherwise lawful” and only hold if the author provides “resources” to carry out the instructions.

Minnesota knows that courts can take weeks or months to fully sort out a will. That’s why the laws specifies that a will’s burial and related instructions must be “immediately carried out regardless of the validity of the will” that may still need sorting out later.

Latitude for what to request

Minnesota laws give you a lot of options for what the instructions can ask. No casket is necessary for cremation or burial (ask the cemetery for its rules), and funeral homes cannot refuse a homemade casket or one from another supplier.

Burial and cremation are both acceptable means of handling remains in Minnesota. While alkaline hydrolysis is not a new technique, the process (called by a variety of other names such as aquamation, biocremation, and water cremation) has only recently become familiar to many Americans. Alkaline hydrolysis is also an acceptable technique according to Minnesota law.