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Funeral and burial instructions

Funeral and burial instructions

By Michelle Whyte

Advocacy Capacity Guardianship Health Succession Wills 


The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) welcomes the opportunity to make this submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission in re-sponse to its Funeral and Burial Instructions: Consultation Paper (the Consultation Paper).

The LIV has been actively involved in policy and law reform in elder and succession law. Members of the Elder and Succession law committees have reported that there is a significant uncertainty around funeral and burial law. The common law applying in this area is not well understood, or adhered to in practice, and in any event may not be appropriate for modern times.

The LIV advocates for respecting the autonomy of a decision maker wherever possible. Committee members have raised concerns that a person does not have the right to control the final disposal of their body according to their wishes. Where exclusive power is exercised by the executor without consideration of the wishes of the deceased or consultation with the immediate family, unneces-sary distress may be caused to the family and friends of the deceased. Whilst this is unlikely to involve legal action, the anguish to the family can have a lasting effect.

Key reforms being sought by the LIV include the introduction of binding funeral and burial instructions that:
• respect the autonomy of the decision maker
• provide clarity and certainty over the process, and
• provide a degree of flexibility to address a range of possible exceptions and public policy limitations.

Download Submission

Michelle Whyte, Senior Lawyer, Legal Policy

T: 03 9607 9365


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