Can an estranged wife determine fher husband’s funeral arrangements of the rest of the family’s wishes?

The arrangements are not what the husbands wanted and she had no power of attorney was made. His wishes were given to many family members on how to perform his service. The couple was separated for 15 years.

Asked on February 26, 2013 under Estate Planning, Florida


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The answer to this question is not easy.  Several provisions of Florida law address who gets to decide the funeral or burial arrangements.  They begin with the deceased person gets to say if he does so during his life.  If the husband here left no written instructions, it may be difficult to prove what he wanted.  If the deceased did not say what was to be done, then the spouse has first priority to make the arrangements.  Unfortunately, being separated makes no difference under the law. 

Whether your family wants to fight the exwife is up to you.  If you have to fight, it will be messy and it could be expensive.  I suggest you gather as much evidence of the deceased person's wishes - especially evidence in writing - and speak with the funeral director.  If you can prove what the husband wanted, you have a chance to make those arrangements.  Although she did not have a spouse, this is the situation the Florida courts had to resolve for Anna Nicole Smith.

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