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Question
My father passed away recently and he wanted to be cremated in the state of Kentucky that required me and my sister both to sign an authorization my father died without life insurance so in the process of us trying to save money to pay for the cremation another party step forward and paid for the cremation and the funeral home now has no idea where my father's remains are and refuses to give me any information and I've heard from a third-party that the remains was given to the person that paid for the cremation but my father had wishes as to what happened to his remains with me and him discussed at length a month before his funeral and this is been very trying and upsetting to both my mother and me and I want to know if I can sue the funeral home for pain and suffering because this is wall and my father's remains should be with my mother and me not with someone else to do with as they please

Answer
Who paid for the cremation? Have you asked that person for the cremated remains?

The funeral home will claim that they had a contract with the person who paid and that by not paying, you gave up your rights. That's what they will claim. But clearly when they asked you and your sister to sign authorizations, they understood your rights as next-of-kin. Were your parents divorced? Your mother is the legal next-of-kin if not.

You can go to Probate Court without a lawyer and ask them to order the person who has the remains to return them to the family. Maybe if you tell that person that you're going to Probate Court that would convince him/her to release the cremated remains.

One other thought--Are you willing to share them?

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If it was a girlfriend who paid for the cremation, they didn't get "dumped." She has them.

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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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