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Bizarre cemetery drama highlights the importance of a will

Did you know that Georgia has an estate plan in place for you even if you do not sign a will? Although this default estate plan may work for some families, problems are very likely for individuals who die without an estate plan in place.

A widow recently found out the anguish that can arise from a the lack of an estate plan. Like many family members who lose a loved one without an estate plan, the widow experienced the issues that arose when it was unclear who controlled the affairs of her husband.

The 71-year-old widow teared up as she stood over her husband grave and said that her stepchildren never respected her. “They desecrated my husband’s grave,” she said.

Her husband was buried in the cemetery after his death in 2008. Her husband’s estranged son died the next year and was buried in the same grave as his father because he was broke and his siblings did not have enough money to buy another plot for him.

The widow knew that something was amiss when she visited the cemetery and noticed that her husband’s headstone had been moved. “They told me the maintenance equipment had pulled it off,” she said. “Consistently, I would call them and ask why the marker was moved.”

After some investigating the widow learned that her husband’s estranged son was buried in his graved. She was outraged and says that the cemetery should have asked her permission before opening her husband’s grave.

The cemetery initially agreed to remove the estranged son’s casket from his father’s grave but ceased contact with the widow after her estranged step-children questioned whether she was married to their father at the time of his death. The couple had married three times and divorced twice.

This family’s saga may have been avoided with the execution of a will. A will can clearly state who is in charge of a decedent’s estate, acknowledge family members such as a spouse, and provide burial directions.

Source: The Detroit Free Press, “Widow sues cemetery after stepson is interred in husband’s plot,” 4/10/11

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