Berman & Asbel, LLP

Parents linger in dispute over remains, belongings of son

The parents of a young man who was killed in a car crash remain locked in litigation more than four years after the date of the accident, arguing over what should be done with their son’s ashes and his personal belongings. The litigation continues in part because the young man had no final will and testament at the time of his passing and in part because the divorced couple is unable to agree on any single point in the dispute.

The issue at the forefront is where their son’s ashes should be laid to rest, with the father arguing in favor of his family’s burial plot and the mother arguing that the ashes should be kept near where her son lived. At a certain point the father requested that the ashes be divided so he could be laid to rest in both places but the request was denied by the judge overseeing the dispute.

The secondary issue is over some items that the young man owned such as a collection of baseball cards and old family videos. Many onlookers to this case may surmise that the parents are coping with their grief by continuing to fight over these items. The circumstances surrounding the man’s death were rather tragic as he was apparently run off of the road by a drunk driver. The driver of the car that ran him off of the road turned out to be a very wealthy man who was found guilty in an initial trial which was later thrown out because of issues with a juror, leading to the current situation in which he may go free.

This case is a good example of why it is never too early to record some of one’s basic wishes and have them executed into a valid will. Doing this will help avoid conflict and make it easier for loved ones to make decisions in the face of an unexpected tragedy.

Source: The Palm Beach Post, “Parents fight over ashes of Scott Wilson, the victim in John Goodman crash,” Jane Musgrave, March 8, 2014 

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