Monday, March 29, 2010
Arkansas Court Allows Disinterment After Administrator Fails to Advise Family of Burial Wishes
Long v. Alford, --- S.W.3d ----, 2010 Ark. App. 233, 2010 WL 811289 (Ark.App.): Decdent and Patsy Long were married for seven years, divorced in 1977, and then lived together for over 30 years until decedent died. Decedent's will executed in 2005 specified that decedent had burial arrangements in Pine Bluff and directed Long to make final arrangements. On the day of decedent's death, decedent's only child, Fredye Alford, filed for and received letter's of administration to have decedent's estate administered intestate. The letters were revoked one week later upon a motion from Long. Long then filed an amended claim to have the decedent's body exhumed and burried in Pine Bluff according to the decedent's will.
The lower court denied Long's request to exhume the decedent's body because public policy and the decedent's family were against disinterment, because Long failed to bring the burial wishes to anyone's attention when arrangements were made, and because Long lacked any relationship to the decedent. On appeal, the Court of Appeals of Arkansas reversed and remanded with an order to allow Long to exhume the body. The court gave controlling weight to carrying out the decedent's expressed wishes regarding body disposition, stating that Long's failure to act when arrangements were made should not prevent those wishes from being carried out.
See Long v. Alford, --- S.W.3d ----, 2010 Ark. App. 233, 2010 WL 811289 (Ark.App.).
Special thanks to Ken Coughlin (Elder Law Answers) for bringing this case to my attention.