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Funerals/sister objects to cremation over spouse

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Question
Hi, My question arises from my father-in-laws wishes to be cremated and his wife is in agreement. However his sisters have demanded that their wishes override his and his spouse and will go to all lengths to prevent it. I feel the spouse has authority but I don't know the law. I apologize if you have already answered this.
Thanks
Greg

Answer
The sisters have no standing. Has the father-in-law already died? If not, he can put his wishes in writing with his wife as the designated agent for body disposition. Even if he has already died, the spouse gets to call the shots. If there are children, the children don't even have to agree.

What are the "all lengths" they are threatening? If they are trying to intimidate a funeral home into not agreeing to the cremation for fear of being sued, tell the funeral home you'll file a complaint with the Funeral Board and the Attorney General's office for unprofessional conduct and emotional distress. The spouse might have to go to Probate Court to have the Court tell the sisters to get lost. One doesn't need a lawyer to go to Probate Court.

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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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