LEGAL QUESTIONS: The scales of justice.
LEGAL QUESTIONS: The scales of justice. Rae Wilson

Will your burial wishes be respected?

JOHN makes a will, appointing his friend Robert as his executor.

The will states that John wishes to be buried.

When John dies, his son Ben makes arrangements with the funeral director.

Ben selects a casket and informs the funeral director that his father's remains are to be cremated. Ben signs an agreement with the funeral director.

Robert becomes aware of Ben's actions and seeks legal advice regarding his rights and obligations as executor.

Robert is advised it is an offence to cremate a dead person's remains contrary to a written direction left by that person, such as the wishes contained in John's will.

Robert is also advised that as John's executor, he has the right to arrange John's funeral. He is informed that he is expected to consult with the family members but is not legally bound to do so.

Robert discusses these issues with Ben and they agree that John's remains are to be buried. Ben advises the funeral director accordingly.

Robert then asks his lawyer about the payment of the funeral expenses. He is informed that if the funeral expenses are reasonable, Ben has the right to recover the expenses from the estate, if there are sufficient assets available.

Robert arranges for the expenses to be paid from John's now-frozen bank account.

Robert is also aware that John's ex-wife wishes to attend the funeral. He asks his lawyer if he is able to prevent her from attending. He is advised that he cannot use his right of burial to exclude John's friends and relatives from expressing their affection in a reasonable and appropriate manner, such as by placing flowers on the casket.

If you would like Manny to address a particular legal issue, send your request to or phone him on (02) 6648 7487.