South Carolina Code of Laws

SECTION 32-8-315. Execution of a cremation authorization form.

(A) A person may authorize his or her own cremation and the final disposition of his or her cremated remains by executing a cremation authorization form. A person has the right to revoke this authorization at any time by providing written notice to the funeral establishment which assisted the person in making these arrangements and the crematory authority designated to perform the cremation.


(B) At the time of death of a person who had executed a cremation authorization form, the person in possession of the executed form and the person charged with making arrangements for the final disposition of the decedent who has knowledge of the existence of the executed form shall ensure that the decedent is cremated and that the final instructions contained on the authorization form are carried out. The crematory authority is required to cremate the human remains and dispose of the cremated remains according to the instructions contained on the cremation authorization form if the crematory authority has a completed authorization form, all permits, and certificates required by law, and the designated human remains.


(C) A preneed authorization for cremation arranged with a licensed funeral establishment and crematory authority shall specify the final disposition of the cremated remains in accordance with Section 32-8-345. If no different or inconsistent instructions are provided to the funeral establishment or the crematory authority by the agent at the time of death, the crematory authority shall release or dispose of the cremated remains as indicated in the preneed agreement.


(D) No person may revoke a cremation authorization form subsequent to the death of the person who executed the form and the instructions for cremation and disposition of the cremated remains must be complied with unless full payment for the cremation and disposition of the remains has not been received or guaranteed.


HISTORY: 1994 Act No. 435, Section 1.


SECTION 32-8-320.¬†Persons who may serve as a decedent’s agent; authorize cremation.


(A) In the following order of priority these persons may serve as a decedent’s agent and in the absence of a preneed cremation authorization may authorize cremation of the decedent:


(1) the person designated as agent for this purpose by the decedent in a will or other verified and attested document, or a person named in the decedent’s United States Department of Defense Record of Emergency Data Form (DD Form 93), or its successor form, if the decedent died while serving in any branch of the United States Armed Services, as defined in 10 U.S.C. Section 1481, and there is no known designation in a will or other verified and attested document of the decedent;


(2) the spouse of the decedent, unless the spouse and the decedent are separated pursuant to one of the following:

* (a) entry of a pendente lite order in a divorce or separate maintenance action;

*(b) formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement;

* (c) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the spouse and the decedent;


(3) the decedent’s surviving adult children;


(4) the decedent’s surviving parents;


(5) adult siblings of the decedent;


(6) the adult grandchildren of the decedent;


(7) the grandparents of the decedent;


(8) the person appointed by the probate court as the guardian;


(9) any other person authorized or under obligation by law to dispose of the body.

(B) If there is more than one member of a class listed in subsection (A)(1), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), or (9) entitled to authorize the cremation of the decedent, the authorization to cremate may be made by a member of the class unless the member knows of an objection by another member within the class. If an objection is known, the authorization to cremate only may be made by a majority of the members of the class who are reasonably available.

(C) A person may not execute an authorization to cremate if a person in a prior class is reasonably available to make or object to the execution of the authorization to cremate the decedent.

(D) In the absence of a person serving as a decedent’s agent pursuant to subsection (A), the following may serve as an agent and may authorize a decedent’s cremation:

(1) a person serving as executor or legal representative of the decedent’s estate;

(2) a public administrator, medical examiner, coroner, state appointed guardian, or other public official charged with arranging the final disposition of the decedent if the decedent is indigent or if the final disposition is the responsibility of the State or an instrumentality of the State; or

(3) the adult who exhibited special care and concern for the decedent.

(E) If a dispute arises among persons of equal priority, as provided for in subsection (A), concerning the cremation of a decedent, the matter must be resolved by order of the probate court.

(F) If a funeral home handling funeral arrangements for a decedent transfers the decedent’s body to another funeral home solely for cremation purposes, the funeral home performing the cremation may, in good faith, rely on a cremation authorization document executed at the funeral home handling the funeral arrangements.


HISTORY: 1994 Act No. 435, Section 1; 1998 Act No. 346, Section 1; 2010 Act No. 221, Section 1, eff June 8, 2010; 2012 Act No. 138, Section 1, eff April 2, 2012.

Effect of Amendment

The 2010 amendment in subsection (A)(1) added the second clause relating to United States Department of Defense Record of Emergency.

The 2012 amendment rewrote this section.