In re Estate of Woods, 402 S.W.3d 845 (Tex. App.—Tyler 2013, no pet.).



Body Disposition


After the decedent died, a battle ensued between his surviving spouse and the independent executor, his son from a prior marriage, over who has priority to decide on the disposition of the decedent’s cremains.  The trial court determined the son had priority.


The appellate court reversed.  The court pointed to Health & Safety Code § 711.002(a) which states that the surviving spouse has priority over body disposition if the deceased spouse did not make other arrangements.  The court held that it was irrelevant that decedent had filed for a divorce from his wife a few months before his death.


Moral:  Because a marriage is terminated only by a court decree or death, a person in the process of divorce needs to update his or her entire estate plan to remove the spouse from the normal priority the spouse has to make financial, medical, and body disposition arrangements.