If mom wished to be cremated, can her sons stop it?

Cmeyers asked...

My nanny past away Sunday and she had four sons. Two of her sons were always part of her life, she even lived with one of them for 25 years and he took care of her and had power of attorney. They know her wishes to be creamated...and her other two sons, who did nothing for her and can not pay a dime, do not want her creamated. The funeral home says we need three of her sons signatures. What can we do if we are at a stalemate? I dont want her sitting in the morgue. Please help

Expert Answer

Rebekah Peoples, CFSP, CPC, Is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is passionate about serving others and believes that giving clients honest, accurate information empowers them to create tributes and services that are meaningful and appropriate.

This is a very sensitive issue. I appreciate your respect for your nanny in not wanting her in the morgue while this is resolved. She was smart to think ahead enough to create a power of attorney. Is it possible that she also spoke to that attorney about her final wishes? If she put something in writing about her desire to be cremated, that usually will carry enough weight with a funeral home to warrant it being carried out.

It's quite common for a funeral home to require a majority of someone's children or next-of-kin to agree on cremation. The primary reason for this, as I'm sure you realize, is that cremation is an irreversible process. On the other hand, if a person is buried, that can be undone.

It may be possible that an independent third party can mediate with all of them to reach an agreement. This may be a clergy member, an attorney, or even a family member who they all respect. Do you know why two of her sons do not want her to be cremated? Many times people have inaccurate information about the cremation process and the funeral director can help with that. He/she can answer any questions they have and can even arrange for them to tour the crematory and talk to its manager about their concerns. The funeral director can also talk to them about other available choices especially if there is a financial concern. This may be something like a graveside service, or a memorial service. Because of time constraints, it's too late in your nanny's case for her body to be "donated to science." It is mentioned here, however for any others who are reading this with similar concerns.

Unfortunately as a last resort if all of this fails and no agreement can be reached in this dispute over cremation, the funeral director will give them information about how to get a court order. That order will issue a clear decision either for or against the cremation choice. Let's hope an agreement can be reached without having to go that far. I'm sure your nanny would not have wanted this discord and hopefully her children will realize that and honor her memory.