2012-05-09 “Wills”

Let me step out of my Funeral Director shoes for a minute and talk about wills.  In my mind, making a proper will with the help of a lawyer is worth the cost.  Think for a minute about the person who will make decisions regarding your funeral.  The following is an excerpt from a newsletter sent out from the Board of Funeral Services in the fall of 2009:

“Complaints arise where there has been a dispute among family members (or estate trustees) concerning the right to make funeral arrangements.  The law is clear that whenever there is an estate trustee (executor/executrix) or administrator, that person has the authority to make the decisions regarding the disposition of the body, regardless of whether there is a next-of-kin who wants to make the decisions. “ 

“Unfortunately however, there may be cases where there is no estate trustee, no one has yet been appointed administrator, and there is a dispute among the family members.  In these cases, the common law provides that the next-of-kin has the right to make the decisions regarding the disposition of the body.  The order of priority that the common law (i.e. judge-made law) has given to help decide which person is considered the “next-of-kin” is as follows:

1.  Spouse                                           6. Brothers or sisters

2.  Children                                         7. Grandparents

3.  Grandchildren                             8.  Uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces

4.  Great grandchildren                  9.  Collateral relatives of more remote degree   

5.  Father or mother

The Estates Act provision that addresses who should be named an administrator by the court defines “spouse” as “the person to whom the deceased was married immediately before the death of the deceased or person of the opposite sex or the same sex with whom the deceased was living in a conjugal relationship outside marriage immediately before the death”.  Therefore, a husband, wife or person of the same or opposite sex who was living in a conjugal relationship with the deceased immediately before death should have priority over any of the family members in 2 through 9 above.”