The Facts

Woman appoints two daughters as co-executors of estate

A 93-year-old mother of five died on 2 December 2020.

When her husband died in 2011, his public funeral was conducted by White Lady Funerals. There was some disagreement amongst the children about the organisation of the funeral.

In a will dated 29 September 2004, the mother had appointed her daughters, J and K, as joint executors of her estate.

It was their duty as executors to arrange a funeral and a burial or cremation of their mother's body, in conformity with the deceased's wishes if possible.

Disagreement between sisters over funeral arrangements

Although J and K agreed that their mother wished to be cremated and did not want anything "showy", they disagreed about what ceremonial events should accompany her cremation.

The sisters argued over this point for three weeks while their mother's body lay in the mortuary.

However, they both wanted their mother's body cremated by Christmas.

Supreme Court asked to intervene to resolve dispute

So, on 18 December 2020, J applied to the Supreme Court for an order authorising her to engage White Lady Funerals to conduct a public funeral and cremation.

K countered that their mother had not wanted a public funeral. K instead wanted to organise a straightforward cremation without any ceremony, followed by placing her mother's ashes in a niche with the husband's ashes.

case a - The case for J

case b - The case for K

  • When my father died, my mother said to me that it was "a really lovely service" and that she would like "something similar with White Lady Funerals".
  • My sister's proposal for a bare cremation is devoid of any ceremony and completely ignores the fact that people attending the funeral might need to be supported in their grieving. Many people attending a funeral gain comfort from the presence of others and from calming music.
  • It is also impossible to conduct a service that is compatible with the most basic norms of human dignity without something being said about our mother at the cremation.
  • To honour my mother's express wishes and to support people in their grieving, the court should order that we engage White Lady Funerals to conduct a public funeral and cremation.
  • When our father died, J took too much control of the funeral arrangements and this caused tension and anger among family members. My mother did not want her funeral to be controlled in the same way.
  • In fact, in September 2020, shortly before she died, my mother signed a statutory declaration stating: "I do not wish for a funeral service to be carried out on my passing."
  • The court should therefore reject J's request to engage White Lady Funerals for a public funeral and cremation.

So, which case won?

Cast your judgment below to find out

Tierah Faulder
Executors of wills and estates
Stacks Law Firm

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