Does my husband have right to his mother’s remains over his stepfather?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Does my husband have right to his mother’s remains over his stepfather?

My husband was told by a lawyer friend that my husband has more rights to his moms ashes than the husband because her husband is not my husband’s biological father. We just found out that my mother-in-law’s husband and his family are putting my mother-in-law’s remains in the VA wall in the cemetery. Does my husband have more rights to his mother’s remains than the husband? Also, can my husband put a stop to them putting her in the wall without a court order or if we need some kind of court order can we file whatever we need to get the remains out of the wall by ourselves since we probably won’t have the papers before they put her in the wall in the chancellor court without an lawyer? We do not have the money right now to pay for

a lawyer. My mother-in-law did not want to be put in the wall by herself and would want to be with us.

Asked on August 29, 2019 under Estate Planning, Delaware


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Almost always the spouse receives and has control and rights over the ashes, not a child. That the spouse--your husband's stepfather--is not your husband's biological father is irrelevant. The spouse is the one who would have been able to make medical decisions for her, if she were incapacitated; in most states, he had the greatest inheritance rights at law; etc. The law favors spouses over children in many ways and the spouse, not the child, gets the ashes.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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