Dec 18, 2015 - 09:51 AM
On the surface, this would appear to be an easy yes or no question. Unfortunately, this is a tricky question because it really does matter in which state you are being cremated. Some states allow you to authorize your cremation in writing, which would then take precedence over a family member’s objection. Other states require the legal next-of-kin to authorize cremation in all cases.
One very realistic aspect to keep in mind is our litigious society. You see, the dead do not sue in court! This means that even if the deceased did provide cremation authorization in writing in a state where this is authorized, a mortuary will more than likely side with the wishes of the legal next-of-kin to avoid any potential lawsuits. All it takes is for one family member to sue, and mortuaries are not willing to take that risk.
Another aspect to consider is the mortuary’s image. Mortuaries are always thinking of future business and public relations. Knowing this, the last thing the mortuary wants to do is upset a family -- then send that family into the community to share their negative experience. So if the choice is to honor the wishes of the dead family member who cannot complain one way or the other, or please a living family member who can then share positive reviews about the mortuary, most mortuaries will choose the second option.
An additional and dastardly consideration is the cost of services. Generally, cremations cost less than funerals, so if there is a chance that a mortuary can switch a cremation to a funeral, that mortuary has a strong financial incentive to do so.
The best way to ensure that your cremation will be honored is to have an advocate, preferably a legal next-of-kin such as a child, demanding that your wishes are honored. If you provide this advocate with a notarized document specifying that you want cremation, the mortuary will step out of the internal fight and wait for the family to work out the final decision. Sadly, the advocate may need to go to court with this notarized document in order to override the opposing family members.
Keep in mind that the ultimate cremation approval comes from the government whether it’s the medical examiner, coroner or some other agency. No cremation will occur regardless of the circumstances without authorization from the State.
Jun 17, 2016 - 04:50 PM
I also assume that there are no other “immediate” family members to ask for the 3rd signature required.
Often, when someone makes a plan to be cremated after death and actually pays for the entire cremation services and fees in advance of death (including picking out an Urn and paying for it) the Funeral home adheres to and follows the wishes of the deceased.
I suggest you talk to the Funeral Home and ask the question if paying in advance will cement your Aunt's wish to be cremated, with or without the signatures required.
Another idea is to document the exact costs, in writing, of a Cremation vs. Funeral Service. Then show the family members the costs involved and ask if those opposed to their mother's wishes to be cremated are willing to pay the entire bill for a Funeral Service (which always costs more). Its amazing what happens to decision making when one sees the cost involved.
Furthermore, it is always easier to deal with making these kind of decisions before any life-changing event occurs and I encourage everyone to articulate their wishes and make some plans well in advance of the inevitable.