§531B-7 Disputes. (a) Any dispute among any of the persons listed in section 531B-4 concerning the right of disposition or priority shall be resolved by the probate court for the county where the decedent resided. The probate court may award the right of disposition to the person determined by the court to be the most fit and appropriate to carry out the right of disposition, and may make decisions regarding the decedent's remains.
(b) The following provisions shall apply to the court's determination under this section:
(1) If two or more persons with the same priority class hold the right of disposition and cannot agree by majority vote regarding the disposition of the decedent's remains, or there are any persons who claim to have priority over any other person, any of these persons or a funeral establishment, cemetery, mortuary, crematory, or hydrolysis facility with custody of the remains may file a petition asking the probate court to make a determination in the matter; and
(2) In making a determination in a case where there are two or more persons with the same priority class who cannot agree by majority vote, the probate court may consider the following:
(A) The reasonableness and practicality of the proposed funeral arrangements and disposition;
(B) The degree of the personal relationship between the decedent and each of the persons claiming the right of disposition;
(C) The desires of the person or persons who are ready, able, and willing to pay the cost of the funeral arrangements and disposition;
(D) The convenience and needs of other families and friends wishing to pay respects;
(E) The desires of the decedent; and
(F) The degree to which the funeral arrangements would allow maximum participation by all wishing to pay respect.
(c) In the event of a dispute regarding the right of disposition, a funeral establishment, cemetery, mortuary, crematory, or hydrolysis facility shall not be liable for refusing to accept the remains, to inter or otherwise dispose of the remains of the decedent, or complete the arrangements for the final disposition of the remains until it receives a court order or other written agreement signed by the parties in the disagreement that the dispute has been resolved or settled.
If the funeral establishment, cemetery, mortuary, crematory, or hydrolysis facility retains the remains for final disposition while the parties are in disagreement, it may embalm or refrigerate and shelter the body, or both, while awaiting the final decision of the probate court and may add the cost of embalming or refrigeration and sheltering to the cost of final disposition.
If a funeral establishment, cemetery, mortuary, crematory, or hydrolysis facility brings an action under this section, it may add the legal fees and court costs associated with a petition under this section to the cost of final disposition.
This section shall not be construed to require or impose a duty upon a funeral establishment, cemetery, mortuary, crematory, or hydrolysis facility to bring an action under this section.
A funeral establishment, cemetery, mortuary, crematory, or hydrolysis facility and its officers, directors, managers, members, partners, or employees may not be held criminally or civilly liable for choosing not to bring an action under this section. [L 2013, c 17, pt of §2; am L 2022, c 294, §8]