Education — Precompose

What to Know as a Designated Agent

Responsibilities, considerations, and questions 

This article is designed for individuals who have been asked to serve as designated agent for their end-of-life wishes.  Listed below are the responsibilities of an agent and questions to keep in mind as you consider agreeing.

Though it does not have to be a difficult job, the designated agent is an important role. Choosing to name you on their Designated Agent for Funeral Agreements form means this person trusts you to act on their behalf after they die.

The person who has approached you to be their agent has chosen to make end-of-life arrangements with Recompose, an ecological death care provider. The Recompose process, natural organic reduction, gently converts human remains into soil. This approach saves 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide per person compared with conventional burial and cremation, uses 1/8 the energy, and facilitates a true return to the earth. Recompose is a licensed funeral home in Seattle, Washington and will work with you to execute your person’s wishes with respect and care.

An Agent’s Responsibilities

If you agree to be their agent, your responsibilities will include:

  • Executing existing arrangements: At the time of the person’s death, you will be legally responsible for executing the wishes for which the person has arranged.
  • Making decisions for anything you have not arranged: You will also be authorized to act on behalf of the person to make decisions for any arrangements they have not already made. For example, if the person has not already documented what they would like to happen to their soil after the Recompose process, you will be legally obligated to make that decision.
  • Paying additional costs: If the person has not paid in advance for your arrangements, you as their agent will be responsible for arranging for additional payment. For example, if your person has a remaining balance of $500 with Recompose at the time of their death, you as their agent are responsible for paying the remaining $500 before Recompose can perform our services. If the person’s estate cannot reimburse you for such costs, you as the agent are authorized to change the person’s intended plans to a lower cost option.

Questions to Consider

  1. Will you be able to honor and follow the person’s documented end-of-life wishes even if those directions differ from your own preferences?
  2. How will you feel at the time of this person’s death? Will you be emotionally able to execute the person’s wishes while managing your own grief?
  3. If the person has not already paid for the services they have documented, you as their agent may be responsible for the cost. Are you able to handle the cost of executing their wishes? If the estate cannot afford to reimburse you for those costs, are you equipped to make alternate arrangements for a lower cost and potentially in conflict with the wishes this person documented prior to their death?
  4. If the person dies more than 50 miles away from a Recompose location, their body will need to be transported to Recompose. If the person has not already planned for the logistics and cost of this transport, these arrangements may fall to you. Will you be logistically and financially equipped to execute this responsibility?

If you agree, your person will list your name and contact info on their Designated Agent for Funeral Agreements form now. You can see a sample copy of the form here. [LINK] The person will keep a copy, Recompose will keep a copy, and you should keep a copy for your own records. It can also be helpful to check in with the person every few years to make sure you understand their wishes and are prepared to execute them.

Thank you for considering becoming an agent. If you have any questions, you or your person can email Recompose at precompose@recompose.com or call (206) 800-TREE and a staff member will get back to you soon.

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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.

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