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Funerals/Ownership of cremated remains

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Question
Hello,
I live in Iowa. My mother recently passed away. My sister and I are estranged.  She has the cremated remains of mom. I would like part of the ashes. She refuses to do this. What can I do? The funeral is on Saturday.

Thanks.

Answer
Were you estranged from your mother? If not, then you both have equal rights if your mother didn't have anything in writing otherwise. Tell your sister that if she won't share them willingly, you'll go to Probate Court for your share. You don't need a lawyer to go to Probate.

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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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