So you think you have all your final wishes planned perfectly?You have a will and a living trust, so having your son scatter your cremains shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s what you want after all. Well, you may be in for a surprise.
Have you ever run into a situation that defies logic? One that just doesn’t defy logic—it makes a mockery of it? Was there a government entity or law involved? Sadly, logic and government don’t always go hand in hand, and families sometimes can’t quite agree on what to do with your cremains—even if you have made your wishes very clear in your will.
A similar scenario arose not too long ago; one that confused everyone involved, with the exception of our legal counsel. In times of great stress, people sometimes don’t use their best judgement. A man passed away in an unfortunate accident. His “significant other” was clearly designated in his will to take charge of his cremation and ashes as he had directed. The legal next of kin did not have an issue with the cremation, but they were not happy about who was to receive the cremains.
As you can imagine, we occasionally get caught up in the different dynamics of the families that we serve. It is accepted as a part of the work we do and the services we provide. We were all a little stumped on this one, so deferred to our legal counsel and were surprised at what we learned.
In the state of Florida, under chapter 497, the disposition of your cremated remains is determined by the person who “contracted for” (read:paid for) your cremation, despite any documentation of your request to the contrary.
Say you and I are at the barber shop on a nice Sunday afternoon and you meet your demise getting a trim. I go down to the local cremation establishment and pay the contract for your wife after she has signed the cremation authorization as the legal next of kin. By law I am now entitled to the cremains because I paid the bill.
Now, this doesn’t make one bit of sense to me or anyone else I’ve spoken to (that doesn’t have a J.D. citation after their name); but it is the law.
So where do you want to go from here? A Cremation Authorization signed by the deceased IS authorization to cremate, but it is not authorization to dispose of cremated remains, even though disposition is covered by the same form.The person paying for the cremation could override the deceased’s directions on disposition.
This is a very rare case, but my suggestion would be to talk to your loved ones and spouse.Those most likely to be handling your affairs.It would also be a good idea to pre-plan your cremation and sign the cremation authorization for you “Self”.Having everything on file with A Direct Cremations or provider of your choice is about as close as you can get making sure that your final wishes are observed.At least until the law is changed in Florida.
**As a disclaimer, I’ll tell you that there is not a cremation authorization form specific to the state of Florida.Each company uses their own form, and your cremation provider of choice will be happy to provide you one.