What are childrens’ rights to their deceased father’s ashes.

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What are childrens’ rights to their deceased father’s ashes.

My children’s dad died several years ago and he was cremated. His wife gave the ashes to the children’s aunt (their father’s sister). Now, she will not give them to the children. What are my children’s rights? They are adult (19 and 20) college students and have nothing to remember their dad. Do they have a legal right to their dad’s remains as his next of kin?

Asked on November 11, 2010 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for the problems you are having with this.  This is a difficult problem to resolve.  You are correct that his children are his next of kin, the same as his wife.  This may be more of a "who paid for the cremation" issue than a moral issue as to who "owns" the ashes.  If his wife at the time paid for the cremation then she has a legal right to the ashes.  And if she has a legal right then she can give them to whomever she wishes.  It is a shame that their Aunt can not see it in her heart to give them their Father's remains but I believe that they were a gift from the "owner" and she does not have to give them up.  You may want to run this by an attorney in your state.  Good luck.


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