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TOPIC: funeral and estranged relatives

funeral and estranged relatives 09 Mar 2014 07:55 #895

My son-in-laws mother just passed away and his Aunt swooped in and made arrangements the next day and had his mother cremated less than 24 hours from the time the body was picked up. His mother was cremated without his knowledge or permission and against her own wishes. His Aunt also paid for the funeral and the and the funeral home is not looking to her only son , my son-in-law, for any decision making. My son-in-law offered to pay for the funeral to the funeral home to get his Aunt(who had the estranged relationship with my son-in-laws mother) out of the picture, they replied with "it is already taken care of." This is the first of many things she has done, is there any legal ground that he has to stand on?
This happened in TN.
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funeral and estranged relatives 09 Mar 2014 10:36 #896

From my reading of Tennessee code, the aunt would have had the primary authority to make funeral arrangements if she had been designated in a durable power of attorney for health care acting pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 34-6-20. Otherwise, the funeral arrangement authority order goes to the spouse, then the sole surviving child of the decedent, or if there is more than one (1) child of the decedent, the majority of the surviving children, etc.

In Tennessee, the order in which rights to control disposition of human remains is vested is specified at Tenn. Code Ann. § 62-5-703:

1.) A person with healthcare power of attorney
2.) A spouse
3.) A child or majority of children
4.) A parent
5.) A sibling or majority of siblings
6.) A grandchild or majority of grandchildren
7.) A grandparent or majority of grandparents
8.) An appointed guardian
9.) The personal representative of the decedent’s estate
10.) Any person in the next degree of kinship
11.) If the final disposition is the responsibility of the state, the responsible public officer
12.) In the absence of the previously listed people, any other person willing to assume responsibility for the final disposition of the remains (including the funeral director currently in possession of the remains)

SOURCE: www.forgottenashes.com/state-laws

For a full reading of Tenn. Code Ann. § 62-5-703, go to:

www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/tncode/

EXPAND -Title 62 Professions, Businesses and Trades
EXPAND - Chapter 5 Funeral Directors and Embalmers
EXPAND - Part 7 Disposition of Human Remains
CLICK THE PHRASE - "62-5-703. Order in which rights to control vest."
Last Edit: 09 Mar 2014 10:41 by edmcham.
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funeral and estranged relatives 09 Mar 2014 11:34 #897

Ed is right---it's important to know if the lady had legally given her sister the right to make her funeral arrangements. If she didn't then yes, your son-in-law would have that legal right.

Whether there's "legal ground" for a complaint against the funeral home hinges on what the sister told the funeral home. If she represented to them that she was the sole or highest next of kin, the funeral home may rely on that. There's not "next of kin database" that funeral directors can tap into to show whether or not a customer is lying about their kin status, or about the existence of other kin.

If it appears that they DID know there was a son and willfully went ahead anyway, that would be grounds for a complaint. But first you have to determine if the sister is the root cause of the problem. If she lied to the funeral home then the funeral home did nothing wrong---they couldn't have known she was lying.
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funeral and estranged relatives 09 Mar 2014 18:50 #898

THIS IS THE APPLICABLE TENNESSEE CODE REFERENCED IN MY EARLIER COMMENT:

Tenn. Code Ann. § 62-5-703

62-5-703. Order in which rights to control vest.

Except as set forth in § 62-5-704, and in the absence of disposition directions or a pre-need funeral contract, the right to control the disposition of the decedent's remains, the location, manner and conditions of disposition, and arrangements for funeral goods and services to be provided vests in the following persons in the order named; provided, that such person is a qualified adult:

(1) An attorney in fact designated in a durable power of attorney for health care who is acting pursuant to § 34-6-204;

(2) The surviving spouse;

(3) The sole surviving child of the decedent, or if there is more than one (1) child of the decedent, the majority of the surviving children. However, less than one half (1/2) of the surviving children shall be vested with the rights of this section if they have used reasonable efforts to notify all other surviving children of their instructions and are not aware of any opposition to those instructions on the part of more than one half (1/2) of all surviving children;

(4) The surviving parent of the decedent. If one (1) of the surviving parents is absent, the remaining parent shall be vested with the rights and duties of this section after reasonable efforts have been unsuccessful in locating the absent surviving parent;

(5) The surviving sibling of the decedent, or if there is more than one (1) sibling of the decedent, the majority of the surviving siblings. However, less than the majority of surviving siblings shall be vested with the rights and duties of this section if they have used reasonable efforts to notify all other surviving siblings of their instructions and are not aware of any opposition to those instructions on the part of more than one half (1/2) of all surviving siblings;

(6) The surviving grandchild of the decedent, or if there is more than one (1) surviving grandchild, the majority of the grandchildren. However, less than the majority of the surviving grandchildren shall be vested with the rights and duties of this section if they have used reasonable efforts to notify all other surviving grandchildren of their instructions and are not aware of any opposition to those instructions on the part of more than one half (1/2) of all surviving grandchildren;

(7) The surviving grandparent of the decedent, or if there is more than one (1) surviving grandparent, the majority of the grandparents. However, less than the majority of the surviving grandparents shall be vested with the rights and duties of this section if they have used reasonable efforts to notify all other surviving grandparents of their instructions and are not aware of any opposition to those instructions on the part of more than one half (1/2) of all surviving grandparents;

(8) The guardian of the person of the decedent at the time of the decedent's death, if one (1) had been appointed;

(9) The personal representative of the estate of the decedent;

(10) The person in the classes of the next degree of kinship, in descending order, under the laws of descent and distribution to inherit the estate of the decedent. If there is more than one (1) person of the same degree, any person of that degree may exercise the right of disposition;

(11) If the disposition of the remains of the decedent is the responsibility of the state or a political subdivision of the state, the public officer, administrator or employee responsible for arranging the final disposition of the decedent's remains; or

(12) In the absence of any person listed in subdivisions (1)-(11), any other person willing to assume the responsibilities to act and arrange the final disposition of the decedent's remains, including the funeral director with custody of the body, after attesting in writing that a good faith effort has been made to no avail to contact the individuals listed in subdivisions (1)-(11).

HISTORY: Acts 2012, ch. 828, § 2.
Last Edit: 09 Mar 2014 18:52 by edmcham.
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