OK, so you met this vampire (they seem to be very popular this year) and he sucked out all of your blood, leaving your children parentless without a ghost of a chance of bringing you back.
Now, what to do?
Your wife has her own ideas as to where your body is going to go, but she’s not the mother of your children. The children never did like her very much, and they have a little different idea. You, on the other hand, left very explicit instructions in your will, which are different from anything the others want.
Let me say at the outset that your will controls. The only problem is that typically no one sees the will until after the funeral. It’s very hard convincing the authorities to dig you up just because some silly instructions weren’t followed, even if it means your spirit spends eternity roaming the countryside scaring the bajeebers out of the population.
For the above reason, I typically tell clients not to put the instructions in a will. What then? Well, the law says that subject to the provisions of a valid will signed by the decedent and the provisions of an anatomical gift, a surviving spouse has the final authority, that is, absent an allegation of enduring estrangement, incompetence, or waiver and agreement. If no spouse, the children come next.
Now that the witchy second wife has had her say, she’s decided you should be put in a plot with her mother and father with a spot saved for her. The children are aghast but powerless.
As luck would have it, the cemetery company gets a little confused and puts you in a lot next to her family plot. Later, the children discover the mistake, and the owner of that lot wants it back.
At their expense, the owners of the cemetery company must disinter you and put you back where you belong. There is one ghoulish requirement. The cemetery company must invite your next of kin as well as the owners of the other plot to witness the disinterment and reinterment of you. I would think a party might be called for with cider and pumpkin pie, but then that’s just me.
Then, of course, there’s the matter of the headstone and/or monument. In my illustration, the cemetery company has to slide the headstone over onto the proper lot at its expense, but I have seen many cases where no one buys a headstone, because the deceased had no money, which means there is no estate. It is a proper expenditure if there is an estate.
Headstones go from having names and dates to explanations as to how or why the decedent died.
Perhaps my very favorite one is in the cemetery in Key West, Fla. It says simply, “I told you I was sick.”
Thomas Young, a graduate of Pitt and Harvard Law School, has been a lawyer in Johnstown since 1958. He is a former professor of business law at Pitt-Johnstown. Readers may send questions to Young in care of The Tribune-Democrat. The opinions expressed in this column are general in nature and may not apply to your situation. Consult your attorney for advice on specific legal matters.