The Right of Sepulchre

When a loved one passes away, there can be disputes regarding how to treat and dispose of the body. Ideally, the decedent would have included clear funeral instructions in his or her last will and testament. In some cases, those wishes might have been communicated orally or in another kind of writing to a family member. What happens when certain family members or friends want to disregard the loved one’s wishes while others wish to carry them out?

Under Pennsylvania law, each person is entitled to dictate the terms under which the body is buried or otherwise disposed of after death. This can include cremation or more modern burial innovations such as composting. If the decedent’s wishes can be shown in a will or other proven writing, these wishes must be followed. This is known as the Common Law Right of Sepulchre. Sepulchre is just a fancy old English word for burial.

Fights over how to deal with a decedent’s remains, where to have the burial, or where to keep an urn full of ashes can arise out of estate disputes in which one or more beneficiaries are trying to use the decedent’s remains as leverage. This is an awful circumstance to bear, and it is important to stand up for the decedent’s rights in court, if necessary. If a decedent’s wishes are being disregarded in this way or for any other reason, the descendants have standing to bring a challenge on that person’s behalf insisting that those wishes be followed. It is important to move quickly in such situations as some methods of laying a person to rest cannot be undone. This is why it is critical to handle these disputes correctly and with urgency.

The Right of Sepulchre also can be implicated if the family brings a wrongful death claim. These kinds of claims can require examination of the body such as an autopsy well after interment or entombment, and exhumation can conflict with the religious beliefs of the decedent. Another instance in which the Right of Sepulchre is implicated is when a graveyard is excavated. This can occur when an entity buys the land and wishes to pave over or move grave sites. In these cases, the Right of Sepulchre is an important part of defending the right of the deceased individuals to rest in peace.

Our attorneys have helped individuals defend their loved ones’ right to choose their manner of burial. If you have questions about the Right of Sepulchre or your family members’ right to dictate their wishes on these matters, contact Cornerstone Law Firm today so we can discuss your options.

Wrongful Death in Reading, Pennsylvania

Wrongful Death in Reading, Pennsylvania

When a loved one passes away because of someone else’s negligence, it can be very hard to decide what to do next. Nothing can ever replace the individual that you’ve lost in your life, but you are entitled to compensation for the enormous financial expense occasioned by someone’s sudden passing. If you have lost someone you love, here are some factors to be considered to determine if you have a valid wrongful death action.

Negligence and Recklessness

wrongful death

The first factor that needs to be weighed is whether the loved one’s death was the result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness. If someone you love was killed in a car accident because of someone else’s mistake on the road, or killed because of faulty repairs or on the premises of a business that did not take reasonable care in maintaining its premises, then these are classic examples of negligence which has caused the injury that your loved one suffered.

Negligence is defined under Pennsylvania law as failing to take the same reasonable care as the average reasonable person. Recklessness is found when one is aware of a risk but intentionally disregards the risk.

Wrongful Death v. Survival Action

There are two types of actions that the law of Pennsylvania recognizes when someone has been wrongfully killed. The first is called a “survival action,” and the second is called “wrongful death.” A survival action deals with the pain and suffering and bills that the individual accumulated during the time that they survived after the injury that ultimately led to their death. Sometimes, this can be a substantial period of time. In other instances, such as a sudden car crash, this amount of time was brief. Understanding the legal validity of this claim can help to predict the outcome of a settlement or lawsuit.

Wrongful death has to do with the loss that those left behind have incurred as a result of their relative’s death. These two distinct claims allow for different types of damages and also, by law, may be distributed to different family members. To bring a survival action, you will also have to consult a probate attorney about obtaining a short certificate.

Compassionate and Caring Lawyers Can Help You Recover

At Cornerstone Law Firm we don’t take lightly our responsibility when we’re retained to help a family grieving the loss of a loved one. We know that in this time you need compassion, care, and to be listened to. We understand that not every family wants to pursue damages to the full extent of the law. We understand that no one who is grieving wants to chase other people for money. Frequently, we’ve found that the relatives of victims of wrongful death just want closure, but simply want to know their options. We’re here to listen to you and to work to obtain the result that you want in your case.

If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident or because of someone’s reckless or deliberate act, please call the Cornerstone Law Firm so that we can discuss your rights with you in a free, no obligation consultation. If you retain us, we don’t get paid until you get paid. Call the Cornerstone Law Firm today.