You are here:

Funerals/headstone question


QUESTION: my mother passed away last month and she was married but separated from her husband on her death certificate it has her last name hyphenated. by law does his last name have to be put on there and if it isn't can he sue my family?

ANSWER: No law says his name has to be on there. Many women keep their maiden names even if married.

Who made the funeral arrangements?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: My mother planned the whole thing and her life insurance paid for it all the reason I'm asking this is because the man in question said if his last name is not on the head stone he will get a lawyer and sue my family.the cemetary said by law since he is concidered her next of kin cause they were married still but seppareated his name has to go on there I don't know if the laws vary by state but they they live in evansville in.

Although he is legally next of kin, he's not the lot-owner if your mother paid for everything. So I don't see how the cemetery can back him up. In Indiana, one can name an agent to handle funeral arrangements. Did your mother name you to handle things after she died? Who gave the funeral director the hyphenated name? You? Your mother? Maybe you can get the health department to change the death certificate.

I don't think any lawyer would take his case or is he loaded with money? I also don't think a court would side with him if they were separated.

I have an idea. You don't need a lawyer to go to Probate Court. Write a letter to the court explaining his threats and your desire to put up a marker without his name on it given their separation. Bet the court will side with you. That should keep the cemetery happy, too.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Lisa Carlson


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.


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.

Funeral Ethics Organization ( Funeral Consumers Alliance (

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

Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

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

©2017 All rights reserved.