Houston, TX asked in Probate and Family Law for Texas

Q: Can my deceased daughter's boyfriend keep her ashes and urn and refuse to give them to her father or myself??

My daughter was living with this man and had a child. Since shortly after her death, we have been denied the ability to see or visit with the child. Furthermore, the boyfriend has closed all her accounts, transferred the title of her car, and is withholding her other property (specifically the ashes and urn) which rightfully belongs to her father, myself, and her other children.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Tammy L. Wincott
Tammy L. Wincott
  • Probate Lawyer
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: I am sorry for the loss of your daughter. The answer depends on if she executed a disposition of remains document or any other transfer on death document related to her bank accounts and vehicle.

You don't mention the age of her other children and whether you have custody. Texas does allow for Grandparent access; however, you will have to file suit in family court to pursue it. In order to obtain the property that would belong to her heirs, the heirs need to file an application in the appropriate probate court or someone that represents their estate if they are minors.

I wish you and her children the best.

Elisa  Reiter
Elisa Reiter
  • Dallas, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: These are delicate situations. You may find the following sections of the Texas Estates Code helpful:

Disposition of Remains: According to Texas law, a person may provide written directions for the disposition of their remains. This means that if your deceased daughter had expressed her wishes regarding the disposition of her ashes and urn, those wishes should be followed.

Rights of the Family: The purpose of court involvement in probate matters is to protect the rights of the family, including those entitled to receive property

As parents, you may have legal rights to your daughter's property, including her ashes and urn.

Cremation Laws: Texas law allows for the scattering of cremation ashes on public and private land with the consent of the property owner. There are also few limits on where you may keep or store ashes, including at home

Can the boyfriend keep her ashes and urn and refuse to give them to her father or yourself? The answer depends on whether your daughter had provided written directions for the disposition of her remains. If she did not, the rights of the family, including the father and yourself, may come into play. It may be necessary to involve the court to resolve this matter and protect your rights.

The boyfriend has closed all her accounts, transferred the title of her car, and is withholding her other property. These actions may be in violation of the Texas Estates Code, which aims to protect the rights of the family and those entitled to receive property. It is advisable to consult with a Texas probate attorney to understand your legal options and take appropriate action.

Will the boyfriend claim he was married to your daughter via common law marriage: Think about the following:

Rights of the Surviving Spouse: If the deceased person was married but estranged, the surviving spouse may still have the right to control the disposition of the ashes

It is important to consult with a qualified Texas probate attorney to understand the specific circumstances and applicable laws in your case. They can provide personalized guidance based on the details of the situation and help navigate the legal process.

Good luck to you, and my condolences on your loss.

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