Michael Jackson’s parents, it appears, will be the ones who decide Michael Jackson’s funeral arrangements.
It will not matter what Michael Jackson’s religion was – they will decide.
For example, if Michael was Muslim and they want to give him a Christian service, it will be a Christian service. That is the law.
In California, the right to control disposition of a person’s remains and make funeral arrangements is controlled by Health and Safety Code Section 7100. There is a pecking order of possible rightholders who can control funeral arrangements. This is the order:
1. If Michael Jackson left written instructions for his funeral services, and the means to pay for them, those directions may not be altered, changed, or otherwise amended in any material way.
At this time, it is not believed that Michael Jackson left such written instructions. The instructions would have to be in writing to be valid – not what he verbally told someone.
IMPORTANT: Any written instructions by Michael do NOT have to be in a will. They do not have to be dated. They do not have to be signed by him. This is a potential problem in California law that the legislature has refused to fix.
Michael Jackson did not leave any instructions in his will. The will is available here.
2. An agent under a power of attorney for health care who has the right and duty of disposition.
At this time it is not believed that Michael Jackson gave anyone a power of attorney with such rights.
This special type of power of attorney is not included in Michael Jackson’s will.
Michael was divorced and thus does not have a spouse recognized in California to decide his funeral arrangements.
4. Adult Children.
Michael Jackson’s children are all minors.
Both of Michael’s parents, Joe and Katherine, are living, and thus in California’s statutory scheme will have to right to control all aspects of his funeral arrangements and disposition of his remains.
6. Brothers and Sisters
Since Michael Jackson’s many siblings are in a lower pecking order in the statute than parents, they do not have any rights.