My aunt called the funeral home, pretended to be my mother, and stole my grandma’s ashes.

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My aunt called the funeral home, pretended to be my mother, and stole my grandma’s ashes.

In washington state. My awful aunt was given the chance to help pay for the
cremation and get some of the ashes, but declined. Instead, she called the
funeral home and pretended to by my mother, getting the ashes that way. My mother
had power of attorney, and the will was clear.

We already know we can file a complaint against the funeral home, but is it
likely that we can successfully sue my aunt for impersonating my mother and
taking the ashes? It sounds petty, yes, but she really won’t stop harrassing us.

Asked on May 15, 2018 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) Your mother can press charges for identity theft (the exact name of the crime will vary state-by-state, but pretending to be another person is always a crime) and also for theft (stealing the ashes, even if done by trickery).
2) If she is engaged in a pattern of harassment, that may also be a crime--you can discuss that with the police while bringing the above to their attention.
3) You can sue for a court order that the ashes be returned, but you have to do this in "regular" court, not small claims--small claims cannot issue orders like that--which will increase the cost and complexity. The executor/personal representative would do this.


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