DEAR ABBY: How important are a dying person's last wishes? My dad died recently and said that he wanted to be buried with his first wife in a state far from where we live. If his estate -- or his current wife -- can't afford to comply with his request, would it be horrible to do something else?
In today's economy most seniors don't have any extra income. To follow Dad's final wishes would take a sizable chunk of his estate. His wife feels it's not important to follow his last wishes because of the cost, but it really bothers me.
Dad was in the Navy during WWII. If his wife isn't willing to spend the money, would I still be a good guy by scattering his ashes in the ocean? I know he'd rather be in the deep than sitting on a shelf in the work shed. Please help. -- DISTURBED SON IN NEVADA
DEAR DISTURBED SON: Your letter illustrates why it is important for people to have their wishes in writing. In this case, your father's wife would have the right to his ashes, unless it was stated otherwise in black and white.
As far as granting a personal last wish, you need to use your best judgment, particularly if doing so would cause financial hardship. In this case, cremation would be a creative way to make everyone happy. Your father's ashes could be divided into thirds, with one portion placed with his first wife, another with his second wife, and the rest scattered at sea.