<em>Legally</em> <strong>Speaking</strong>


How to avoid the dispute that followed Anna Nicole Smith to her grave
Jim Juliano - Spring 2007

The spectacle that caught national attention after the death of Anna Nicole Smith raises an important legal question for you and your family.

The issue was custody of the body of the former Playboy model, who died Feb. 8. In many states, there is no simple way to resolve a fight like this. Even if the deceased has left a will, and even if that document expresses the deceased’s wishes as to disposition of her remains, it is an open question as to who controls the remains.

This issue presents a potentially ugly and expensive legal fight, unless the individual takes advantage of laws like a new Ohio statute that says a competent adult may appoint someone to direct the disposition, after death, of his or her
remains. The authority granted to the representative may include the power to make arrangements for burial, cremation or other manner of final disposition and the
right to determine the location, manner and condition of the funeral. Any preferences the individual wishes the representative to consider may be included as well. The
appointment of a representative is made by executing a written declaration in accordance with the law.

The written declaration is separate from the will and other ancillary documents. It is not complicated, but the new law is specific on what it must include. The document
must be notarized or signed by two witnesses.

Other states have similar statutes.

Brenda L. Wolff, an associate attorney with Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC, assisted in the preparation of this article.




This website contains general information that should not be considered legal advice or legal opinion concerning individual situations. Legal counsel should be consulted for specific advice.

Copyright 2007 by L. James Juliano Jr.
Legally Speaking® is a registered trademark of the law practice of L. James Juliano Jr.