Rhode Island End of Life Guide

Advance Directives 

Advance Directives are legal documents that allow you to make known your end-of-life care ahead of time. The state of Rhode Island recognizes your right to decide the terms of your own medical treatment and to assign a person to make those decisions when you are not able to do so. 

  • Here are some important questions to consider before beginning this process:

  • Is this document(s) state specific? No

  • Does this document(s) need to be notarized? No

  • Does this document(s) require witnesses? If so, how many? Yes / 2

  • Can you legally use Aging With Dignity's 5 Wishes DocYes

There is a single form Advacne Directive form for Rhode Island. Click the button below to download the form:


(Source: Rhode Island Department of Health)

Death with Dignity 

Death with Dignity laws allow the dying more control of their death and end-of-life decisions. These laws allow terminally-ill, able-minded state residents to request and receive prescription medication to hasten their death. 

Representative Edith Ajello’s bill, H 7659, the Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act, was heard in a House Committee on March 23, 2016, and held for further study.

For more information, see Death with Dignity's Rhode Island page.

Designated Funeral Agent 

Rhode Island law supports the appointment of a designated funeral agent to follow through on your written personal preferences (see below) or make funeral arrangements on your behalf if no written preferences are indicated.

Rhode Island Law Section 5-33.3-4 allows an individual to designate a Funeral Planning Agent who shall have the "sole responsibility and authority to make any and all arrangements and decisions regarding (the) funeral preparation." The document below "revokes and shall make null and void any previous designations of a funeral planning agent." 

The appointment of a designated funeral agent will override the next-of-kin's usual authority and let the citizen designate whom he/she wants to control the disposition of his body.


Financial Assistance

Burial benefits are awarded to those who are indigent residents of Rhode Island whose family cannot provide money to pay for their burial.

See our Financial Assistance Chart for more details.

Home Funeral

Home funerals, or family led funerals, are 100% legal in Rhode Island. Your family or appointed agent may care for the deceased and handle all your funeral arrangements and necessary paperwork (permits and certificates) without a funeral director.

Check with the National Home Funeral Alliance for up-to-date details on how to navigate home funerals in Rhode Island.

Personal Preference Law

Personal preference laws for body disposition obligate your survivors to follow your written [or verbal] personal preferences. This often goes hand-in-hand with designating a funeral agent to follow through with your funeral or body disposition preferences.

In Rhode Island, there is not a law obligating your survivors to follow your personal preferences. However, we always recommend outlining your funeral preference in writing and sharing them with your designated funeral agent, next-of-kin, or spouse, giving you the best chance of having them seen through or upheld in court.