Who has the legal rights to cremated remains in Arizona?

Keith in ohio asked...

Our father passed away 2 years ago there and our step-mother had him cremated which we think was against his wishes. she has since passed away and was cremated and placed in a vault next to him. as there is no family there, we wish to bring him back to Ohio and have him buried here. he and my step mother purchased plots here which we still have. our step-sibling will not allow us to remove his remains. what are our rights as direct children as our step siblings do have a different father. our step mother would never allow us to see dads will so we are not sure of his real wishes.

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 difficult situation. As his children, it's understandable that you would want your father's cremated body near you.

With your stepmother being dead, you and your siblings are now his next-of-kin and as such, it seems that you would have legals right to his cremated remains in Arizona and to request that they be moved to Ohio. There are a couple of possible exceptions, however.

First you will need to contact the cemetery where he is buried and express your wishes. They will ask for written authorizations. When your step-siblings find out, they may try to stop it. The cemetery may say that the only way the step-siblins can disallow it is to provide a will that shows your father's wishes are to be buried next to your stepmother and in Arizona.

The second exception would be that the cemetery in Arizona will require not only your authorization but also that of all your siblings so you'll need to be sure that you are all in agreement.

Start by contacting the cemetery in Arizona and ask what they require to move his cremated remains and they'll walk you through their procedures.

In your favor is the fact that he purchased plots in Ohio. It makes sense that he would only do that if he wanted to buried there. May you find peace in this matter. Many people find comfort in visiting a place of rest or even in just knowing their loved one is nearby.