What type of attorney do I go to to get my father’s ashes released to my siblings and me?

UPDATED: Sep 7, 2011

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What type of attorney do I go to to get my father’s ashes released to my siblings and me?

My father passed away 1 week ago. At the funeral service a woman presented herself as his wife from 35 years ago. They married in 1970 lived together 3 years and separated. My brothers and I have paid for all funeral expenses, however the cremation was put on hold because she presented a marriage certificate and wants “his social security benefits and ashes”. I’ve been everywhere, to the superior court, family court and the Mexican consulate and they all tell me that I can’t do anything because legally she is his wife.

Asked on September 7, 2011 under Estate Planning, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You need to consult with a family law attorney experienced in wills and trusts for your situation. I find it odd that this woman claiming to be your late father's wife has showed up after all these years of allegedly having no contact with your late father claiming some entitlement to his social security benefits and putting a hold on his cremation.

Whether or not this woman is legally your father's wife, they were separated all these years and not acting as though they were married. Hopefully you father had a will. A problem may result if this woman is actually still married to your deceased father is not specifically mentioned in your father's will as not receiving anything.

Potentially there may be a divorce that you are not aware of. You should hire a private investigator to do a search concerning this woman. What would be helpful is if you found out she was married to some other person after she separated from your father.

If so, then there is a presumption that she divorced your father because bigamy is illegal on all states in this country.

Good luck.

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