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Question
I went into labor early at 6months and i delivered my first born son. He passed an hour after i delivered him. I was asked in the hospital while under this devasting sadness of losing my son, no worries we are here for you and we know what your going thru and we can take care of everything.  I signed papers under that duress not know that i was signed over the rights to my son to the state to bury him. When i arrived home and started to talk about the buriel, we called the hospital and asked and they said we gave consent to have the state bury him. I was devastated and tried to reach them to explain that i signed papers in a emotional state and they said they were sorry. So for years this has tormented me not having my sons ashes. How can i go about getting his ashes. I have the cemetary he was taken to but i cant bring myself to hearing they cant do anything for me. This is why id rather ask an expert before going over there. Thank you hope to hear from you. I live in NJ

Answer
I would simply go to the cemetery and tell them you've decided to keep the ashes at home. I suspect they will be sympathetic. If they give you a hard time, you can go to Probate Court without a lawyer and explain the problem. There is a federal court case that declares that the family has a right to the body for the purpose of burial and mourning--Whaley vs. County of Tuscola.

I am guessing that the hospital tho't it was doing you a favor if you didn't have the money for a cremation.

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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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