What can I do if my mom's durable power of attorney won't let me view my mom's body or attend the creamation?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 26, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother pasted on July 14, 2011. Her niece was the DPOD,she had a will which named her grands and her last wishes but she is still controlling everything and will not allow me , her daughter to view her body or go to the cremation. Please help. She died in N C ,I live in NY

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

When the niece was named as an agent in your mother's power of attorney, her only powers and duties were to manage your mother's finances or medical care according to your mother's best interests. Being named in the power of attorney gave her neither the right nor the authority to make your mother's final arrangements"”and it certainly doesn't give her the right to bar you from the process.

The reality, however, is that those running a funeral home or crematory may act to deliver their services if the niece indicated she was willing to pay and possibly represented that there were no other family members willing or able to be involved.

And the nature of this situation being what it is, you must act very quickly. If you know the place where the body is being held, contact it directly and let them know you are the next of kin. You should also find out through this contact whether your mother made any specific requests or signed up for any plans that may control her final arrangements.

Your only other strong option may be to hire an attorney to get at least a temporary restraining order to stop the cremation until you get this all sorted out. Attorneys can be expensive, but this is a fairly limited action, so may not be prohibitive. If you decide to hire a lawyer, look for someone with experience in estate planning or elder law"”and if the person is in New York, be sure he or she has some familiarity with the conventions and laws of other states.