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Divorced parents battle in court over what to do with son's ashes

People in Queens might not stop to consider what will happen with their affairs after their death. This is perhaps especially true with younger people, who might think that having a will is not necessary because of their relative youth. If they do pass away without a will, known as intestacy, then their affairs are at the mercy of a court, rather than their own wishes.

This includes such things as the disposition of a person's remains after his or her death. A recent case in Florida concerned this very matter. A 23-year-old man died in a car accident but didn't leave a will or any instructions specifying what to do with his body after his death.

The man's parents were his next of kin, but they were divorced. They came to an agreement that the body would be cremated, but they weren't able to agree on what to do with their son's ashes. The father wanted them buried in a family plot in another state, while the man's mother preferred they be buried in Florida, closer to her.

The father asked the courts to rule that the ashes were actually property of the estate, so that they could be divided and each parent could bury half of them. The mother expressed her desire for the ashes not to be split up.

An appeals court sided with the mother and said that the ashes were not property, and could not be divided. It isn't clear if the impasse between the deceased man's parents will continue in the wake of this ruling.

Source: Flagler Live, "South Florida Appeals Court Rules Cremation Ashes Are Not 'Property,' and May Not Be Divided," May 22, 2014

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