Funeral Home Breach of Contract

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When someone dies, it is important to understand what wishes must be adhered to, and who is responsible for final rights and preparations. This may depend on the state, if an estate plan was in existence at the time of death or if the parents are given the choice.

A person that has died usually leaves some information about what to do once they’ve passed. This could be through oral explanations to loved ones, a documented estate plan or with paperwork through the job. If life insurance was purchased, there could be other files that have instructions on what to do when the person passes away. It is important that all data has been discovered to ensure the wishes of the deceased are carried out. This could mean the wants of the family or parents may not be the end result based on how the deceased worded his or her wishes for final resting or burial.

Certain states have very specific laws and stipulations about who is able to control and determine the face of the deceased’s body and final preparations for death. If these do not exist, then there may be an estate plan that explains that the person wanted to be cremated or buried in a plot that was purchased during his or her lifetime. Without these preparations, it may be left to the family to bury or cremate the person based on what was told to certain individuals while he or she was alive. It is important to research the laws in the state where the deceased lived and how these affect the wishes of loved ones after the person passes.

Signed Contracts

When a funeral home completes a contract with the parents of someone that has passed over, the business is held to the conditions unless there are extenuating circumstances outside of the terms of the document. This means that the employees are not responsible for state regulations, prior documentation filled out for other preparations or if the estate plan is carried out with different terms for the deceased. This would nullify a contract made with a funeral home or similar company. An executor may be contacted or appointed to ensure an estate plan provides for the means of burial or cremation.

Priority for Preparations

When someone has died, there are usually certain circumstances in effect that list who is given priority in what to do with the body once the person is no longer living. This usually starts with the person designated in writing such as an estate executor or lawyer contacted for the estate plan. This could also be someone specific listed in a will. Then, if there is a spouse, he or she is provided the decision if none was explained. The next on the list would be any adult aged children of the deceased which could be followed by parents, siblings or extended family. Typically, the persons or entities do not include a company, but this may be part of an estate plan or will.

How to Proceed With Funeral Arrangements

After it has been determined who has priority for the preparations, the person or group need to understand how to proceed. This means that if the person left an estate plan, there should be some funds for the burial or cremation and a ceremony to honor the dead. If this is not available, there may be a stipend from work or insurance so this may be accomplished. The individual then should honor the wishes of the deceased as close to the planning as possible. If the parents are not given the opportunity to decide what to do, the executor or representative may want to contact them to ensure they are informed of the processes that will occur.

If the parents have priority over what is done with the body and how the final rights are represented, they may need to contact a lawyer if they are not given the opportunity to do so for their deceased child. No other party should have the ability to bury or cremate someone if they are not on the list based on the state or local laws. This means a lawyer may need to stop any other processes until the rightful individual or group is able to ensure the proper preparations are provided. This could also mean a cease and desist letter sent to others, a company or a funeral home.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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