The Right to Dispose of Decedent's Remains Includes Choosing Content on Headstone
| By McIntyre Tate LLP
On appeal, the Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's order. The court held that the right of disposition of a decedent's remains also encompasses the right to choose a decedent's headstone inscription. The court said that it is illogical for a statute governing a decedent's remains to grant control to a surviving spouse over a decision as profound as where a person is buried, yet leave control over the headstone open for debate. The statute the adoptive father references only governs cemeteries; he cited no case law addressing who has priority to select a proper monument. Lastly, the court said the name on the headstone is not an illegal name change. Headstones often contain nicknames and monikers which should not be construed as an attempt to improperly change a decedent's name or correct an error on a birth certificate.