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Advance care planning dispute!


francis1306
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Dear All, A dispute has arisen over scattering of mymother’s ashes and I welcome any views or comments on this predicament!

My mother was diagnosed terminally ill, earlier thisyear, and is still with us. Prior to this diagnosis, my mother hadasked us to assist in arranging her pre paid funeral, which we did. I am downas contact (eldest son). My mother wishes to be cremated.

Due to diagnosis advance care planning was arranged (lastwishes booklet-this is not a legally binding document) and completed at mymother’s home, between my mother, MacMillan nurse and my mother’s sister. Thisnotes my mother wishes her ashes to be scattered in garden of remembrance.

10 days later, my mother had 2 trips at home and asprocedure was taken to hospital, by paramedics. My mother was admitted andadvised it would be unlikely she would return home due to her restricted mobility.Whilst in hospital, on a visit(within 2-3 weeks after the ‘last wishes booklet’had been completed), my mother’s brother informed my mother that her ashes donot have to be scattered in garden of remembrance, but can be scattered/placedat ‘family’ grave (where my mother’s mother is buried, along with her sister inlaw). This was obviously favourable as it would give a specific place to payrespects. Also present at this visit were myself & 2 other family members. We,all 4 confirmed this & an additional note was made to ‘last wishesbooklet’. My mother was lucid and understood options described. It may assistto note that on page of ‘last wishes booklet’ titled Funeral Planning, at ‘PersonI wish to be responsible for making my funeral arrangements’ is my name, not mymother’s sister.

The dispute that has arisen is my mother’s sister who waspresent when ‘last wishes booklet’ completed, is demanding that 1stoption is stood by and that ashes are scattered over garden of remembrance,where 4 other family members had witnessed my mother’s change of mind, once sheknew such option was open to her, and now wishes for her ashes to bescattered/placed at family grave.

Since knowing her diagnosis, my mother has always askedme and my younger brother to look after and ‘take under our wing’ our youngestbrother, who is 30 years. My mother is of the opinion that it will hit ouryoungest brother the hardest. Bearing this in mind, I decided to broach thevisit we (4) had with my mother and asked his opinion. He is more than happyfor our mother to be scattered/placed at family grave as oppose to garden ofremembrance. Even knowing this, my mother’s sister is being difficult and notconceding my mother’s ‘new’ wish.

I could add more but this would only muddy the waters, save to say that not all family members see eye to eye with others!

Many thanks for reading.

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You are in a difficult position with no easy answer I'm afraid. I suspect what ever you decide to do will upset someone within the family. That said, if it is your mother's wish to have her ashes placed on the family plot, the obvious course of action would be to respect her request (just my opinion).

 

If you can get a codicil drawn up and duly signed in the time remaining, this would go some way to silencing any complaints from other family members. Failing that, a formal letter confirming her wishes, signed and witnessed.

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It is a difficult situation as family disputes often are.

 

The legal position is that funeral arrangements, which would include scattering the ashes, is a matter for the Executor of the estate.

 

Wishes expressed in a Will are not legally binding although many would regard them as morally binding.

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Who is the Executor?

 

The other thought that occurs to me is that if your mum's sister is a beneficiary and if you mum still has capacity to make a will she could make any bequest to her sister conditional on her agreeing to your mum's preferred option.

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