Rexene Worrell, M.D.
LEgal Next of Kin
Legal Next of Kin – Who Can Request an Autopsy?
Generally, the legal next of kin must authorize an autopsy. Absent a legal document otherwise granting authority for an autopsy, the legal next of kin is determined by Nevada Revised Statute 451.024, which provides:
NRS 451.024 Persons authorized to order burial or cremation; order of priority of such persons; acceptance of legal and financial responsibility does not give rise to claim against estate or other person; transfer of authority to another person; unavailability of authorized person.
1. The following persons, in the following order of priority, may order the burial or cremation of human remains of a deceased person:
(a) A person designated as the person with authority to order the burial or cremation of the human remains of the decedent in a legally valid document or in an affidavit executed in accordance with subsection 9;
(b) If the decedent was, at the time of death, on active duty as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, a reserve component thereof or the National Guard, a person designated by the decedent in the United States Department of Defense Record of Emergency Data, DD Form 93, or its successor form, as the person authorized to direct disposition of the human remains of the decedent;
(c) The spouse of the decedent;
(d) An adult son or daughter of the decedent;
(e) Either parent of the decedent;
(f) An adult brother or sister of the decedent;
(g) A grandparent of the decedent;
(h) A guardian of the person of the decedent at the time of death; and
(i) A person who meets the requirements of subsection 2.
2. Any other person may order the burial or cremation of the human remains of the decedent if the person:
(a) Is at least 18 years of age; and
(b) Executes an affidavit affirming:
(1) That he or she knew the decedent;
(2) The length of time that he or she knew the decedent;
(3) That he or she does not know the whereabouts of any of the persons specified in paragraphs (a) to (h), inclusive, of subsection 1; and
(4) That he or she willingly accepts legal and financial responsibility for the burial or cremation of the human remains of the decedent.