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Funerals/Cremation in Maryland

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Question
Could you explain what is required to cremate someone in the state of Maryland?  If the deceased has more than one child, do all children have to participate in making the cremation arrangements? What happens in families where all of the deceased's children are not in contact with one another?

Answer
If the death has not yet occurred, the person wishing to be cremated may name a designated agent for funeral planning in the Advance Directives of the Health Care Act. Without that, many funeral homes will not cremate without ALL children in agreement, which, needless to say, is a problem if they are not in contact. If there are absent children who have not maintained close contact with the deceased parent and/or siblings, I wouldn't tell the funeral home about their existence. Yes, it is a lie of omission, but you can get around that without actually lying about it if you word it carefully. In the worst case, you could go to the county Probate Court and ask to be assigned as the administrator of the estate and to handle funeral arrangements. You don't need a lawyer to go to Probate Court in most states. You may be able to do that entirely by letter.

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Lisa Carlson

Expertise

Funeral Law. Having written a 512-page book on funeral law for consumers with state-by-state information, I am very conversant with consumer rights in this regard: What are the laws on disposition of cremated remains? Is embalming required? Do I have to use a funeral home? Can I have a home wake? Is it a state law to buy a vault? I prepaid for a funeral but changed my mind. They won`t give me all my money back. What can I do? . . . If you have an immediate need for information because a death has just occurred or is about to occur, you may call me at 802-482-6021.

Experience

I have monitored the funeral industry on behalf of consumers for over 20 years. I have been a guest speaker to funeral trade organizations, consumer workshops, and social service professionals. I am regularly consulted by lawyers and legislators as well as journalists.

Organizations
Funeral Ethics Organization (www.funeralethics.org) Funeral Consumers Alliance (www.funerals.org)

Publications
Caring for Your Own Dead (1987) Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love (1998) I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch (2001) Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death (2011) with co-author Joshua Slocum

Education/Credentials
Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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