Can a former executor take the remains of a person, when a new Will gives another person executorship?

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Can a former executor take the remains of a person, when a new Will gives another person executorship?

My husband and I were together over 10 years. When I met him he was a widower, who had divorced his first wife long before she died. He has 6 biological children and 1 (a girl) from an affair his wife had. He raised her as his own. This child was the former executor of his Will. After 5 years of marriage the Will was re-written giving me, his spouse, full custody of everything that he owned (I would think that would mean his cremation ashes). Upon his death he wanted me to have his ashes and put his ashes in the coffin along with the ashes of our dogs. She went and claimed his ashes and will not return them. What are my rights?

Asked on November 23, 2010 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the problems that have resulted.  I am assuming that you paid for the funeral and for the cremation, correct?  Generally speaking who ever pays for the ashes gets the ashes.  Are you the Executrix of the Will?  I am assuming so since you said it was re-written.  Then you have the power to act on behalf of the estate and following the wishes of your husband - the testator or decedent - and place his ashes as he wishes.  This means that you can act as necessary to retrieve the ashes from your step-daughter.  Seek legal help and have the attorney for the estate write the letter on behalf of "the estate" in the first instance.  It may cause less of a family issue or exacerbate that which already exists.  Good luck.


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