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  #1  
Old 07-20-2011, 12:24 PM
neuroman neuroman is offline
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Excluding a Relative From Funeral and Burial

I'm wondering who can be legally excluded from a funeral. For example, say one child murders his parents. Can the other child or other children legally prevent the suspect son from attending the funeral?

My WAG is that whoever gets legal control of the body can arrange for whatever funeral services she wants, and whoever owns the premises where those services are held can throw out trespassers at their whim. But I have nothing to back that up.
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  #2  
Old 07-20-2011, 12:27 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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I remember reading something (statute, perhaps) that provides that relatives are guaranteed access to visit graves of family, regardless of private property owners' wishes. I don't have a cite - does anyone?
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Old 07-20-2011, 12:30 PM
Joey P Joey P is online now
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If any part of the funeral takes place in private property, like in a funeral home, barring some special circumstances that I'm not aware of (WRT funerals, funeral homes, graves, cemeteries etc), the property owner should be able to keep them away by simply asking them to leave. Once they've done that, they can call the police and have them arrested for trespassing if they try to come back.
Now, whether or not they'll do that for you is a different question. But legally, the property owner can ask anyone to leave for any reason (as long as we steer clear of protected classes and all that).

Last edited by Joey P; 07-20-2011 at 12:31 PM..
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  #4  
Old 07-20-2011, 03:56 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Originally Posted by neuroman View Post
I'm wondering who can be legally excluded from a funeral. For example, say one child murders his parents. Can the other child or other children legally prevent the suspect son from attending the funeral?
Wouldn't he be in jail during the funeral?
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  #5  
Old 07-20-2011, 05:23 PM
doreen doreen is online now
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Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
Wouldn't he be in jail during the funeral?
Under certain circumstances ( I'm guessing not this one) inmates can attend funerals and/or wakes.

Last edited by doreen; 07-20-2011 at 05:24 PM..
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Old 07-20-2011, 06:07 PM
neuroman neuroman is offline
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Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
Wouldn't he be in jail during the funeral?
Yeah that guy maybe, but I thought it was pretty obvious this situation might arise in other circumstances.

eta: plenty of accused murderers get out on bail.

Last edited by neuroman; 07-20-2011 at 06:08 PM..
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  #7  
Old 07-20-2011, 06:19 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Originally Posted by doreen View Post
Under certain circumstances ( I'm guessing not this one) inmates can attend funerals and/or wakes.
The person might be in jail but most likely not convicted of anything yet. I had a schoolmate that killed his sister with shotgun during an argument. It was hard to know at the time if it was just a really stupid thing that happened or he really was a cold blooded killer. I went to the funeral as did the person that killed his sister and it was not a pleasant thing to watch. I didn't know who to feel more sorry for. Most people just ignored the obvious and didn't mention it but some people were very openly hostile to him being there. He didn't get convicted of that but did end up with a terrible life as an adult and ended up in prison for other things. I don't know all of the legalities involved but people that kill someone do go their victim's funeral sometimes.
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  #8  
Old 07-20-2011, 08:59 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Relevant point: It's the criminal trial that finds him guilty of murdering his parents -- at the point in time the OP is speaking of, he's the "alleged" or "accused" or "suspected" murderer. I'm bringing this up not for the obvious nitpick but for the very practical reason that it may matter significantly how any documents barring him from the private property where the funeral and interment are being held are worded. If they ban "Lizzie Borden", all well and good, but if they ban "the murderer of Andrew and Abby Borden", well, Lizzie hasn't been convicted of the crime yet.
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  #9  
Old 07-20-2011, 09:14 PM
WmJames WmJames is offline
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unwanted presence at funeral

typically, the mortuary/cemetery has a paying customer who has signed all the forms and paid for services. this "point person" is the customer. the customer can ask the provider of services to remove an unwanted or disruptive person. funeral directors are trained to handle situations like this. they will typically ask the unwanted person to stand some distance away, and if they like, come and pay their respects (or spit on the grave) after the crowd has departed.
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  #10  
Old 07-20-2011, 09:39 PM
md2000 md2000 is online now
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IIRC, the funeral typically is paid for by the estate of the deceased. The executor is disbursing those funds as trustee for the estate, and as such probably is limited in how they can express wishes that are not in the will.

I would hazard a wild guess that unless the police feared for someone's safety, playing security guard and heavy at a solemn funeral where there is no public disturbance is not high on their list. They might wait and arrest the guy quietly after the service is over rather than play Rambo during the eulogy. (If he declined to leave when requested, that is technically petty trespassing or whatever the local statute. Depends how the judge sees it.) I guess it depends how the owner of the funeral home tells it to the police. Plus, there was probably an obituary in the local paper saying that the funeral was at a certain time and date, which could be construed as an invitation, unless it's one of those Hollywood funerals not open to the general public.

I think Shaganasty has it best. People will either studiously ignore the unwelcome or glare at him/her. Remember, creating a disturbance is the offense of the person who starts the disturbance or joins in, not someone standing there even if unwelcome.
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  #11  
Old 07-20-2011, 09:44 PM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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OK, I'm going to change my will to specifically indicate that my murderer, or murderers, not be allowed to attend my funeral. While I'm at it, I think I'll exclude anyone who desecrated my corpse or attempted to have their way with it (Natalie Portman excluded).

Last edited by Darth Panda; 07-20-2011 at 09:44 PM..
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  #12  
Old 07-21-2011, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
IIRC, the funeral typically is paid for by the estate of the deceased. The executor is disbursing those funds as trustee for the estate, and as such probably is limited in how they can express wishes that are not in the will.

I would hazard a wild guess that unless the police feared for someone's safety, playing security guard and heavy at a solemn funeral where there is no public disturbance is not high on their list. They might wait and arrest the guy quietly after the service is over rather than play Rambo during the eulogy. (If he declined to leave when requested, that is technically petty trespassing or whatever the local statute. Depends how the judge sees it.) I guess it depends how the owner of the funeral home tells it to the police. Plus, there was probably an obituary in the local paper saying that the funeral was at a certain time and date, which could be construed as an invitation, unless it's one of those Hollywood funerals not open to the general public.

I think Shaganasty has it best. People will either studiously ignore the unwelcome or glare at him/her. Remember, creating a disturbance is the offense of the person who starts the disturbance or joins in, not someone standing there even if unwelcome.
I mostly agree, except for your first sentence. At the time of the funeral, normally within days of the death, the estate will probably be far from settled. My mother's funeral was paid for by my father. My father's funeral was paid for my my sister and me. My father-in-law's funeral was paid for by my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law's funeral was paid for by my husband. In each case the heirs eventually received something from the estate. In the case of my father-in-law, his estate was in the negative figures. My immigrant in-laws really did not understand about insurance. All my FIL left behind was an unpaid mortgage and a ton of medical bills.
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  #13  
Old 07-21-2011, 03:19 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Originally Posted by Darth Panda View Post
OK, I'm going to change my will to specifically indicate that my murderer, or murderers, not be allowed to attend my funeral. While I'm at it, I think I'll exclude anyone who desecrated my corpse or attempted to have their way with it (Natalie Portman excluded).
I had a friend who recently died, in her 90's. She had a good time in her last years, making up lists for her funeral:
  • those not allowed at her funeral
  • those not to be invited, but if they show up let 'em stay.
  • those to make sure to invite

The lists were lengthy, especially the last one. But living for 80-some years in a small town, and judging County Fair competitions all over the state, she knew lots of people.

It was one way she kept informed about activity in the town. Like Mr. X was on the excluded list (because of things he'd done in the 1970's), but she heard that he had recently helped Mr. Y's granddaughter get a college scholarship, so she upgraded him to the 2nd list. She had lots of fun updating these lists, and it helped keep her busy after she had to go into a nursing home.

[At her funeral, we ignored the lists. There was such a crowd there that we wouldn't have been able to check them anyway.
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  #14  
Old 07-21-2011, 09:23 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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I once heard from a trans woman whose family had so rejected her for being trans that the cops were called to remove her when she showed up at her mother's funeral. I dread having to undergo anything like that... ::shudder::
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  #15  
Old 07-21-2011, 09:51 PM
Lacunae Matata Lacunae Matata is online now
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I don't really recall all of the ins and outs (it was a bit of a stressful time) but a relevant anecdote:

When my sister died (1998, laws may have changed since,) my mother's former husband made it clear that he planned to attend the funeral, which was held at a local funeral home (private property.) The day before the visitation, Mom asked the funeral director whether the ex could be barred. Short answer was no. (IIRC, this had something to do with the fact that an obituary had been published, time and place of service announced, and no mention of "private service." I could be completely misremembering, though.) Another good friend of the family was in law enforcement at the time. He visited the ex's house and asked that he not attend. Ex shows up anyway...

Thankfully, two very big guys caught my mom as she tried to swing for the fences, and another convinced the asshole that he really, really wanted to leave. Even though it was an aluminum cane, it would've hurt - which he deserved - but I would hate to have needed to bail Mom out of jail so she could attend the funeral.
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  #16  
Old 07-22-2011, 12:13 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Panda View Post
OK, I'm going to change my will to specifically indicate that my murderer, or murderers, not be allowed to attend my funeral. While I'm at it, I think I'll exclude anyone who desecrated my corpse or attempted to have their way with it (Natalie Portman excluded).
Your will may not have been read, and would almost certainly not have been probated, by the time of your funeral. Better to leave separate, written funeral instructions.

Prisoners are occasionally allowed to attend funerals. Depending on their crimes (alleged or proven), they may be escorted by jail or prison guards, or allowed out unsupervised for a few hours under an order to return by a particular time. I drafted such an order for a judge once.

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 07-22-2011 at 12:14 PM..
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  #17  
Old 07-22-2011, 01:21 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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Here's the order, edited to remove any identifiers and extraneous info:

On January 13, 2003, defendant was sentenced to 180 days of incarceration in the [jail name] after being convicted of Soliciting. Although most of the sentence was originally suspended, it was later ordered into execution in its entirety. Defendant still has 53 days remaining to her sentence.

Defendant has informed the court that her mother, [name], died on Nov. 17, 2003, and the court has independently confirmed this. Funeral services and other observances are scheduled for this weekend, Nov. 21-22, 2003. Defendant has requested a bereavement furlough to attend these events...

The court believes that a bereavement furlough would be lawful and appropriate, under the circumstances. Defendant is hereby ordered released from the [jail] no later than 10am on Friday, Nov. 21, 2003. She shall reside with her daughter, [name], of [address], during the term of the furlough. Defendant shall return to the [jail] no later than 10am on Monday, Nov. 24, 2003, to serve the balance of her term. If defendant fails to return as ordered, a warrant will issue for her arrest, she will be subject to prosecution on a felony charge of Escape, and she will still be required to finish her sentence as [earlier] imposed....
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  #18  
Old 07-22-2011, 01:32 PM
muldoonthief muldoonthief is online now
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So did she come back?
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  #19  
Old 07-22-2011, 01:45 PM
md2000 md2000 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lacunae Matata View Post
I don't really recall all of the ins and outs (it was a bit of a stressful time) but a relevant anecdote:

When my sister died (1998, laws may have changed since,) my mother's former husband made it clear that he planned to attend the funeral, which was held at a local funeral home (private property.) The day before the visitation, Mom asked the funeral director whether the ex could be barred. Short answer was no. (IIRC, this had something to do with the fact that an obituary had been published, time and place of service announced, and no mention of "private service." I could be completely misremembering, though.) Another good friend of the family was in law enforcement at the time. He visited the ex's house and asked that he not attend. Ex shows up anyway...

Thankfully, two very big guys caught my mom as she tried to swing for the fences, and another convinced the asshole that he really, really wanted to leave. Even though it was an aluminum cane, it would've hurt - which he deserved - but I would hate to have needed to bail Mom out of jail so she could attend the funeral.
The only thing more interesting than this sort of funeral fight has to be sometimes when the survivors start arguing over the inheritance.

You can use threats, and law enforcement types being heavies and uttering threats, but basically it seems you can't stop someone from being in an event open to the public unless the owner of the property has served notice that the person would be trespassing. (Is usually how "petty trespasing" or equivalent laws work). Usually the format of that notice and who provides it is explicit in the law.

And as I said before, creating a disturbance (or assualt with a deadly cane) is the offense of the person creating the disturbance. If the uninvitee joins in the melee, he/she would also be guilty, but generally being on the receiving end does not qualify.

Based on some of the stories - how often is the uninvitee definitely uninvited from the viewpoint of the deceased, and how often is it mostly a desire on the part of some other living participant? Kind of reminds of the classic "I'm not coming to your wedding if SHE's there" manipulative threats.

(OTOH, for some people, showing up just to aggravate old wounds is indicative of their character).
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Old 07-22-2011, 02:02 PM
tumbleddown tumbleddown is offline
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Originally Posted by Lacunae Matata View Post
The day before the visitation, Mom asked the funeral director whether the ex could be barred. Short answer was no.
This sounds to me like the funeral director wasn't interested in getting into the middle of a family dispute and took the wimp's way out. The funeral home is private property. Publicly announced event or not, if the funeral director wanted any particular person off of the funeral home property, all that would be needed to accomplish that was saying so, and then calling police to enforce a removal for trespassing if the order to leave wasn't followed.

It might not have been pretty, but if the funeral director had just cause it'd be very hard to make any argument against it. And I'm entirely certain that "I do not wish to have this person on my property because his presence is going to disturb my paying customers (in their time of great bereavement)" is the sort of thing police enforce for all sorts of business owners all the time. I can't imagine why a funeral home would be any different. A public notice in a newspaper doesn't grant universal rights for any disruptive party to attend or be permitted to remain at any event.
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Old 07-23-2011, 07:24 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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Originally Posted by muldoonthief View Post
So did she come back?
I believe she did. I'm sure I would've heard if she didn't.

I sent a link to this thread to a friend of mine who's been a funeral director for many years. He wrote:

"I have done everything from bringing the violating party in at an off-hour (late night/early morning) to negotiating with both sides separately, emphasizing dignity and that their loved one is entitled to respect regardless of the circumstances.

"The article seems to take the position of the Golden Rule (he who has the gold makes the rules), but we have always tried to emphasize that it is still our facility, and we have the right to protect it.

"A good line is to mention security, and that we really do not wish to have a police officer present (at the family's expense) but if need be we will."
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  #22  
Old 09-25-2013, 08:42 PM
science nerd science nerd is offline
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Unwanted family at funerals

What I'm seeing is a whole bunch of weird speculation about who may or may not come to a funeral. The thing is this: it is VERY unusual to prevent anyone from coming to someone's funeral, and the majority of funeral homes out there will tell you that they don't get involved in blocking someone from a funeral.

I can't even imagine putting that much effort into physically preventing someone from sitting at a funeral, minding their own business. If they aren't hurting anyone and aren't there to picket with signs or whatever, who cares??

I do recognize, however, that there are those who totally throw etiquette to the wind and make a scene over someone they don't like attending a funeral. The truth is, though, that if you are the family of someone who has died, you're supposed to be there for your other family members, to ease their grief. You shouldn't even worry about who's there. It shouldn't be about looking around like a dumbbell, trying to see who's there who shouldn't be.

Sometimes, you have to just get over yourself and try to have a little decorum. If there's someone there you don't like, don't speak to them. If you see them coming toward you, start speaking to someone else.

If you only want family at a funeral but are also having a visitation (this is the proper way to have a family-only funeral) you list the visitation time, indicating something like, "the family will receive friends from 5-7 pm Monday at XX Funeral Home." Then, if you want to have an invitation-only funeral or burial, indicate something like, "Private service [and/or] burial will be at a later date." You don't just keep folks from attending a funeral that has been announced in the paper.
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  #23  
Old 09-25-2013, 11:16 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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Thanks, but even though he didn't say so, I think he meant to imply "Need Answer Fast"...

Welcome to the Straight Dope, science nerd! Just out of curiosity, how did you happen to find this site?

Last edited by kaylasdad99; 09-25-2013 at 11:20 PM..
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  #24  
Old 09-26-2013, 06:05 AM
jtur88 jtur88 is online now
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As a matter of legal access, I would expect such a funeral to be analogous to a party reserving a banquet room at a restaurant. The restaurant has a right to refuse seating at the table by me or you or any other crasher, at the request of the client booking the room. In the event of trouble, the police can be summoned. If there is an expectation of unauthorized attendees, I think it is the usual practice to hire an off-duty police officer to be on standby -- as would be the case at, say, a political rally.

I would expect a funeral director to, at the outset, routinely ask the bereaved if they wish to have a public or a private service, and be in a position to advise their clients about any arrangements that can be made in order to enforce their wishes, including hiring security personnel (at the client's expense) to enforce any desired restrictions on attendees.
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Old 09-26-2013, 07:26 AM
md2000 md2000 is online now
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Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
As a matter of legal access, I would expect such a funeral to be analogous to a party reserving a banquet room at a restaurant. The restaurant has a right to refuse seating at the table by me or you or any other crasher, at the request of the client booking the room. In the event of trouble, the police can be summoned. If there is an expectation of unauthorized attendees, I think it is the usual practice to hire an off-duty police officer to be on standby -- as would be the case at, say, a political rally.

I would expect a funeral director to, at the outset, routinely ask the bereaved if they wish to have a public or a private service, and be in a position to advise their clients about any arrangements that can be made in order to enforce their wishes, including hiring security personnel (at the client's expense) to enforce any desired restrictions on attendees.
This is the core of the discussion - is a funeral a "private party" limited to invitees? Or is it a public service open to all comers?
Generally I believe it is the latter. Publishing an notice of when the service is, with the date and time, is a public invite. And... outsiders like funeral directors, like wedding organizers, probably find it safest to leave the family disputes up to the family.

Then the question becomes, can you exclude a person from a public event with a public published open invitation? How much of a scene do you want to make to do so?

Is that what the deceased would have wanted?
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  #26  
Old 09-26-2013, 07:54 AM
Telemark Telemark is online now
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
This is the core of the discussion - is a funeral a "private party" limited to invitees? Or is it a public service open to all comers?
Generally I believe it is the latter. Publishing an notice of when the service is, with the date and time, is a public invite.
I wouldn't think that matters. Private property pretty much trumps all that - and if the funeral home or the cemetery wants you to leave you will be escorted out. As long as the funeral home listens to the people paying them none of the rest really matters. I can invite you to a party and then ask you to leave.
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  #27  
Old 09-26-2013, 09:00 AM
Yllaria Yllaria is online now
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Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
. . . She had lots of fun updating these lists, and it helped keep her busy after she had to go into a nursing home. . .
I don't know why, but this tickles the heck out of me. I'm glad she had fun.
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  #28  
Old 09-27-2013, 10:51 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
This is the core of the discussion - is a funeral a "private party" limited to invitees? Or is it a public service open to all comers?
Generally I believe it is the latter.
Depends on whether you're holding funeral obesquies or funeral orgies.*The latter are public; the former may be private.



*From the Greek orgos; public, open + the Hebrew jeesum; to inter, bury
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  #29  
Old 09-27-2013, 11:47 PM
cochrane cochrane is online now
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What if the deceased becomes a zombie? Is there no funeral, then, to bar people from attending? Or will everyone be too busy running away, screaming?
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