Arthur v. Milstein, (Fla.App. 4 Dist.) [Anna Nicole to be buried in the Bahamas]

Though isn’t necessarily the most breaking of news, my Westlaw update arrived this morning with the below summary in my inbox:

The guardian ad litem of the infant daughter of celebrity Anna Nicole Smith would be permitted to determine the disposition of Ms. Smith’s body. Ms. Smith’s mother had contended that she was the only “legally authorized person,” within the meaning of a statute setting priorities among family members to dispose of a person’s remains. However, the statute applied to disputes with funeral homes and medical examiners, rather than to intra-family disputes. Instead, the last ascertainable wishes of the decedent were to be considered, and Ms. Smith had made known her desire to be buried in the Bahamas next to her deceased son. Given the guardian ad litem’s commitment to bury Ms. Smith in the Bahamas, such guardian would be allowed to direct the handling of Ms. Smith’s remains.

Ohio has recently (10/05) adopted a statutory form (pursuant to 2108.70) that allows for a person during their lifetime to appoint another to carry out the wishes of the decedent regarding the disposition of their remains as specified in the form. The individual named in the form has superior rights over all other individuals including the decedent’s family members. Here then is another example where proper planning (where such planning is allowed) could have prevented litigation.

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