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Funerals/sons finale wishes

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QUESTION: my 34 yr old son passed away on the 9th of March and my ex-wife made all the arrangements without my knowledge. Found out from my son's fiancÚ  that at the meeting at the funeral home cremation was agreed to because that is what my son had told everyone he wanted. Found out yesterday without my ex asking anyone she put him in a mausoleum. I am his father and was excluded from everything witch violates my rights. I think the law was violated both by her and the funeral home.

ANSWER: I am sorry for your loss. Yes, both parents have equal rights, and your wife was at fault not to consult you. Was it a sudden death? Or is there a chance your son had his wishes in writing? That should have prevailed if so. FYI, more than half the states have a designated agent law so that a person can name another to handle all funeral arrangements which would over-ride the next-of-kin.

I suspect your wife would not have chosen a mausoleum if she knew what they were really like. You can read about them here -- http://www.funeralethics.org/SpringSummer06.pdf



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QUESTION: Yes it was sudden death, nothing in writing just we all new what he wanted and he didn't get it. Do i have a reason here to pursue a Lawyer?
Thank you

Answer
You can check, but it's not the kind of case that's likely to generate a big bucks settlement, so the lawyer would not take it on contingency, asking you to pay up-front, maybe $10,000.

What you could do is file a complaint with the state funeral board with a copy to the funeral home and a copy to me, Lisa Carlson, Funeral Ethics Organization, 85 Upper Access Rd., Hinesburg, VT 05461. Funeral board won't likely do much, but it does put people on notice that this kind of irresponsible action occurs and that some of us are watching.

To get the contact information for the Funeral Board, go to www.funeralethics.org/rights.htm
Pick your state, then on the second page, third column, find the info or link you need.

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Another thing you could do is petition the Probate Court for an order to let you cremate your son. You don't need a lawyer to go to Probate. I'd file your complaint with the Funeral Board first and take a copy to the Probate Court. You might print out that newsletter exposing the problems in a mausoleum, a crock-pot for a smelly stew. Another advantage to cremation is that the cremated remains can be divided among you and perhaps the fiance'.

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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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