Woman Finds Out Her Father Was Cremated Without The Family's Consent — Now The Funeral Director Wants Her To Pay For It

Mourning your parent's loss is hard enough without adding this kind of trauma.

funeral director looking at ledger Minerva Studio, Ground Picture / Shutterstock

We are all aware that there will likely come a day that we lose our parents. As much as we try to prepare for the fateful moment, there is no way to be ready for such a big loss. All we can do is make sure that their final wishes are honored and try our best to keep our mother's and father's memories alive.

But for one woman, not only did she have to deal with the tragedy of losing her dad, but when she found out he had passed away, she also learned other disturbing news.


The woman's father had been cremated without the family's permission.

Now, she is understandably upset and wondering what kind of legal recourse she has. 

In a post shared to the r/askfuneraldirectors subreddit, the woman started by saying that her dad was widower who lived in the state of Illinois. He had suffered a heart attack and passed away a year after his long-term girlfriend had died.

Though he did not have a will, his two daughters were his next of kin and had spoken with him the week before his death. 

woman says her father was cremated without the family's permissionPhoto: Reddit


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It was nine days after his death when the coroner finally reached out to let his family know of his passing. 

According to them, the notification had been delayed because they could not locate the family's contact information. They said they had attempted to reach the emergency contact, his deceased girlfriend, repeatedly to no avail, but those calls, of course, went unanswered, ringing over and over in the empty home the man and his partner once shared.

His daughter thought the coroner should have gone further to reach out, citing an unlocked cell phone full of contacts in his home.

However, for some unknown reason, she claimed that the coroner entered her father's home and found an attorney's info on an envelope, so he dropped her father's keys off there, but didn't go the extra mile to find his family, something she calls "bizarre".


After learning of the man's death, the family reached out to the funeral director to make arrangements.

Sadly, they were advised that just one night prior, the coroner was given instructions to cremate the man, though he had never spoken with the family. They urgently contacted the coroner to have him stop the cremation from happening, but if was too late, and they would never get a chance to say their final goodbyes

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On top of that, the funeral director gave the woman an itemized bill that included the cremation she had never approved. She and her family are hurt by the loss and subsequent events that occurred and are angered at the audacity of the morgue to charge them for it.


So, she was in search of advice about her legal rights in the matter.

The cremation is covered under the Disposition of Remains of the Indigent Act. 

Code 755 ILCS 66 allows relatives 72 hours to take responsibility for the remains of a deceased loved one. If no one shows, the State of Illinois makes the decision as to what to do with the body, and that is usually cremation, unless the death is suspicious.

According to the Cremation Society of North America, over 2 million unclaimed bodies have been cremated and their ashes scattered. If private funds are unavailable, families can request that the State cover the expenses.

But though painful and overwhelmingly traumatic, the cremation isn't the real issue here. This situation illustrates the need for families to make sure that a will is in place. That way, there is no confusion over what to do if a person dies. 


Unfortunately for this man's children, they have to live with the effects of him dying alone and being cremated, something that might have gone against his wishes. This will no doubt require time to heal emotionally, and the family may end up skipping the payment, but the pain will be something they just have to go through. 

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington. She covers lifestyle, relationships, and human-interest stories that readers can relate to and that bring social issues to the forefront for discussion.