How to Choose a Designated Agent

Designating your Agent is an important decision as they will be legally responsible for carrying out your end-of-life wishes

About a Designated Agent

A Designated Agent is legally responsible for carrying out your death care wishes. If an Agent hasn’t been designated, Washington law states that the role automatically goes to your legal next of kin. Your next of kin is legally defined in the following order as your:

  • spouse or domestic partner
  • child or children
  • parent(s)
  • sibling(s)
  • grandchildren
  • nieces or nephews

If you have multiple surviving next of kin, i.e. three children or two parents, the decisions have to be agreed to by a majority in order to be carried out. For example, both surviving parents have to agree to the decisions made after you die, unless one forfeits their rights.

Often people believe that if they’ve appointed a power of attorney or an executor in their will, they won’t need a Designated Agent. However, unless this paperwork explicitly says so, the executor or power of attorney doesn’t have the right to decide what happens to your body after you die—so your end-of-life wishes aren’t guaranteed. Furthermore, wills can be contested and may have to go through probate court, which can take weeks or even months.

Choosing a Designated Agent is an important decision. We recommend reviewing the form and taking some time to consider who will be best suited for this role. Read on for more information about an Agent’s responsibilities and questions to ask when considering who to choose.

Link to Precompose Forms

Responsibilities of a Designated Agent

This person’s responsibilities will include:

  • Executing existing arrangements
    Your Agent will be legally responsible for carrying out any wishes you document prior to your death.


  • Making decisions for anything you have not arranged
    Your Agent will also be authorized to act on your behalf to make decisions for any arrangements you have not already pre-arranged. For example, if you have not already documented what you would like to happen to your soil after the Recompose process, your Designated Agent is legally obligated to make that decision.


  • Paying additional costs
    If you have not paid for all of your arrangements in advance, your Agent is responsible for the additional costs. For example, if you have a remaining balance of $500 on your Precompose Plan at the time of your death, your Agent must pay the remaining $500 before Recompose can perform our services. If your remaining balance cannot be paid, your Agent will be authorized to find a different death care option that costs less than Recompose.

How to Choose an Agent

When thinking about who to designate as your Agent, ask yourself questions such as:

  • Is this person someone I can trust to understand and honor my wishes as I have documented them? Can I trust them to follow my wishes, even if they don’t agree with what I want to have happen to my body?


  • Will this person be equipped to make these decisions at the end of my life? If I choose my spouse or child, will they be emotionally able, while managing the grief of my death, to see to my wishes?


  • If I haven’t already paid in full for all of the wishes I’ve documented, my Agent may be responsible for the cost. Is this person willing and able to handle the cost of executing my wishes?


  • If I do not die within Recompose’s service area, my Agent will be responsible for arranging for transport of my body to Recompose. Will they be logistically and financially equipped to take care of this responsibility?

Talking with Your Agent

Once you have someone in mind to act as your Agent, we recommend speaking with them to ensure they are willing and able to execute these responsibilities. You can find a template for how to start this conversation in our How to Approach a Designated Agent article.

The person you ask to be your Agent may have questions about the legal process or about Recompose itself. You can direct them to the Recompose website or have them get in touch with us at

Once you have chosen your Agent, please fill out the Designated Agent form. You can sign it online and Recompose will save a copy with your customer records. As long as it is signed electronically, you do not need a witness. After completing the form online, you will be emailed a copy of the signed document. Please save a copy and keep it with your other important papers, like your will. Make sure to give a copy to your Agent as well.

How to Change Your Designated Agent

If you ever decide to change your Agent, just complete a new Designated Agent form. You can email to delete the previous version, or we’ll consider your most recent copy to be the correct version.

You can see a complete list of documents and information on legally designating your wishes here.

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About Recompose

Recompose is a licensed, full-service, green funeral home in Seattle offering human composting. As the first human composting company in the world, we are a trusted leader in ecological death care. We are Seattle’s only human composting provider and serve clients across the U.S.

Recompose Seattle
4 S. Idaho St, Seattle, WA 98134
Open by appointment


Voted Best Funeral Home in Seattle Times’ Best in the PNW Contest 2023



Land Acknowledgement
Recompose acknowledges we make our lives and livelihoods on the lands of the Coast Salish People, specifically the Duwamish People. We honor with gratitude the Duwamish People past and present, the land itself, and the Duwamish Tribe. Colonization is an active, persistent process. Indigenous communities continue to be resilient in protecting their ecological and cultural lifeways and deathways despite ongoing oppression. Recompose respects, shares, and supports this commitment to climate healing and environmental justice. Join Recompose in contributing to Real Rent Duwamish.