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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 14731
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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My sister died two weeks ago from cancer and her funeral is

Customer Question

My sister died two weeks ago from cancer and her funeral is on Thursday 9th September, my sister had lived with her partner, John for approx 10 years.
John has paid 50% of the funeral costs, and although my sister did not leave a will, John insists that he spoke to my sister 2 days before her death to find out what her last wishes were, this i find difficult to believe as my sister didn't know she was dying as the hospital felt it better not to tell her because of her mental health issues, she was too poorly to be moved to a hospice at this stage and was on a course of diamorphine to help with the pain and to ease her passing.
John is now saying that whilst our family can attend the funeral no one on our side of the family may speak, he is saying that this is my sisters wishes, also he is saying we cannot have any of her ashes which our family find most distressing.
My sister had 4 children before she met John and no children with him, surely if they were not married her next of kin would be her eldest child, and she would be able to claim the ashes from the funeral directors after the cremation.
In anticipation
Alison x
Submitted: 10 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 10 days ago.

Hello, this is Jim and welcome back to JustAnswer. Sorry to hear of your loss.

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 10 days ago.

Yes, her eldest child would be next of kin and entitled to the ashes, assuming there was no will.

The starting point for a court in this dispute is to consider whether ashes are "property". Following the case of Williams v Williams [1882], there is no property in a corpse.

The law states that if there was a valid will, the executor is entitled to the ashes and to decide what to do with them (cremation or to scatter, etc). The primary duty is for the executor, in other words.

If there is no valid will then the rules of intestacy will apply and in that situation the highest-ranking next of kin would be entitled to the ashes, which would be the deceased's Husband in this situation if she was married, or her children who are next, then it would be siblings (if there are no children).

This is confirmed in Section 22 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987. It depends therefore if there was a valid will - if there was, the executor will have the right to the ashes and the executor could be someone other than the surviving spouse - it depends who is nominated in the will. If there is no will (or no valid will), the next of kin will be entitled to them.
You may need a law firm to help with this if the partner refuses to change their stance.

Here is a list for you :
1. https://www.birketts.co.uk
2. https://www.clapham-collinge.co.uk/news/family-disputes-after-death-disputes-over-cremation-ashes
3. https://www.nelsonslaw.co.uk

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 10 days ago.

I hope this helps and answers the question - my goal is to ensure you are happy with the answer and have the information you need. If you have any follow up questions then please let me know. I will reply as soon as I can to help with any further queries.

Many thanks,
Jim

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 10 days ago.

Please let me know if the answer helped or if you need me to cover anything else?. I am happy to clarify the answer or if you have any follow up questions. If so, I’d be grateful if you would let me know. I am free most days, including weekends, so feel free to ask me anything you are unsure of.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Thank you Jim you've made my day x
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 10 days ago.

My pleasure, thanks and take care.