Colorado Revised Statutes Title 15. Probate, Trusts, and Fiduciaries § 15-19-106. Right to dispose of remains

(1) Subject to section 15-19-105(2) , the right to control disposition of the last remains or ceremonial arrangements of a decedent vests in and devolves upon the following persons, at the time of the decedent's death, in the following order:

(a) The decedent if acting through a declaration pursuant to section 15-19-104 , subject to the provisions of section 15-19-104(3)(a)(II) ;

(b)(I) Either the appointed personal representative or special administrator of the decedent's estate if such person has been appointed;  or

(II) The nominee for appointment as personal representative under the decedent's will if a personal representative or special administrator has not been appointed;

(c) The surviving spouse of the decedent, if not legally separated from the decedent;

(c.5) A person with the right to direct the disposition of the decedent's last remains in a designated beneficiary agreement made pursuant to article 22 of this title;

(d) A majority of the surviving adult children of the decedent;

(e) A majority of the surviving parents or legal guardians of the decedent, who shall act in writing;

(f) A majority of the surviving adult siblings of the decedent;

(h) Any person who is willing to assume legal and financial responsibility for the final disposition of the decedent's last remains.

(3) Disputes among the persons listed under subsection (1) of this section shall be resolved by the probate court.  A third party shall not be liable for refusing to accept the decedent's remains or dispose of the decedent's remains until the party receives a court order or other reasonable confirmation that the dispute has been resolved or settled.

(4)(a) If the person with the right to control disposition is unable or unwilling to make such disposition, or if the person's whereabouts cannot be reasonably ascertained, then that person's rights shall terminate and pass to the following, in the following order:

(I) The rest of the persons in the class with the same degree of relationship granting the same priority of control over the disposition pursuant to subsection (1) of this section;

(II) The next class of persons in the order listed in subsection (1) of this section if no one else with the same degree of relationship granting the same priority of control over the disposition of this section exists or possesses the right of final disposition pursuant to subsection (1) of this section.

(b)(I) The person with the right to control disposition shall be presumed to be unable or unwilling to provide for such disposition, or the person's whereabouts shall be presumed unknown, if the person has failed to make or appoint another person to make final arrangements for the disposition of the decedent within five days after receiving notice of the decedent's death or within ten days after the decedent's death, whichever is earlier.

(II) Any member or veteran of the armed forces of the United States or of an organization supporting members or veterans of the armed forces of the United States shall have the right to access the human remains and records thereof in order to identify the remains if no person with the right of final disposition has provided for final disposition for at least one hundred eighty days after death.  If the remains are those of a veteran of the armed forces of the United States, the person who possesses the remains shall make arrangements for the remains to be transferred to the closest United States military cemetery.  This subparagraph (II) shall not be construed to authorize the exhumation of dead human bodies nor the possession of dead human bodies by any person seeking to identify the identity of the remains.

(c) If a person is unable or unwilling to make a disposition under this subsection (4), such person shall not be counted as a member of the class with the same degree of relationship granting the same priority of control over the disposition pursuant to subsection (1) of this section when determining the number that makes a majority of such class.

(5) If the persons enumerated in subsection (1) of this section are not willing or able to provide for the final disposition of a decedent's remains, or if the persons' whereabouts cannot be reasonably ascertained, then the public administrator responsible for the decedent's estate or the person who controls indigent burials in the county in which the death occurred shall make arrangements for the final disposition of the decedent's remains.

(6) A third party who provides for the final disposition of a decedent's remains upon authorization from a person who claimed to have the right to control the final disposition shall be immune from civil liability and administrative discipline.


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