Here’s another pay-up-or-else story — true but anonymised and deliberately undated.
A funeral director is refusing to hand over the ashes until the balance of the bill is settled — which it will be if the DSS claim is successful.
Does he have the right to do this?
You can’t arrest a corpse for debt because there is no property in a corpse. But what is the legal status of ashes? Are they property? This is something the 1902 Cremation Act didn’t think of, as we have seen in an earlier post. Briefly, they are and they aren’t. If they are, then the funeral director would seem to be justified in withholding them against payment.
Except that the client’s contract, in terms of cremating the body, was with the crematorium, and the fee to the crematorium was a third-party payment paid in full by the funeral director on behalf of the client. The crematorium fulfilled its contract and presumably has the right to expect the funeral director, as the appointed collector of the ashes, to hand them over to its client.
Other legal advice offered by solicitors in the locality favours the funeral director.
You are the referee. Is the funeral director legally and morally justified in his actions?
(We don’t know.)