New Jersey 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 New Jersey 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 an Advance Directive packet for the state of New Jersey that includes a form to appoint your Healthcare Proxy. You can download this packet by clicking the button below:


(Source: The State of New Jersey 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. 

On February 4, 2016, New Jersey Assemblyman John Burzichelli(D-Gloucester), with Tim Eustace (D-Bergen) and Joe Danielsen (D-Somerset) as primary sponsors and 8 additional co-sponsors, introduced A 2451, Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. The companion physician-assisted dying bill in the New Jersey Senate is S 2474, sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union).

After referral to the Health and Senior Services Committee, the Assembly bill was transferred to the Appropriations Committee which passed it on October 6, 2016. On October 20, 2016, the full Assembly passed the bill on a 41 to 28 vote, with 5 abstentions. The vote was nearly identical to and came almost exactly two years after an up vote on a previous bill (see below).

A2451 now heads to the Senate where it will first be considered in Committee.

Follow the legistion on Death with Dignity's New Jersey page.

Designated Funeral Agent

New Jersey 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.

To appoint a valid funeral agent, it must be done in a Will or Codicil. Appointments made any other way are not acceptable. Those interested in appointing a funeral agent need to visit an attorney and inform them that they wish to designate an individual as a funeral agent according to N.J.S.A. 45:27-22.

The attorney will either draw up a Will or amend the existing Will to include language similar to this:

Appointment of Funeral and Disposition Representative
"I hereby nominate, constitute and appoint [insert name] to serve as my Funeral and Disposition Representative, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:27-22. My Representative shall have the authority and power to control the arrangements for my funeral and the disposition of my remains. My Executor shall notify my Representative of this appointment, and shall advise my Representative of the financial means available to carry out the Funeral and Disposition arrangements. In the event [insert name] should predecease me or for some other reason not qualify to serve as my Funeral and Disposition Representative, then I nominate, constitute and appoint [insert name of alternate] as my Funeral and Disposition Representative.”

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.

(Source: NJSFDA)

Financial Assistance

New Jersey has a generous funeral assistance program through through the Department of Human Services (DHS). Eligibility is dependent in enrollment in certain social services programs.

See our Financial Assistance Chart for more details.

Home Funeral

Home Funerals, or family led funerals, are not 100% legal in New Jersey. New Jersey is one of 10 states that does not allow the family complete power in home funerals, necessitating the use of a funeral director for some purposes.

Check with the National Home Funeral Alliance for up-to-date details on how to navigate home funerals in New Jersey and when it is required to involve a licensed funeral director.

Personal Preference Law

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

In New Jersey, you must place your written wishes in your Will or Codicil - so be sure you make that known and accessible to your designated agent or next of kin to give you the best chance of having them seen through or upheld in the courts.