Clifford Gouldson Lawyers

Would you take 13 years to bury a loved one?

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It’s an unfortunate consequence of death and the grieving process that it can bring out both the best and the worst in people.  In cases where the worst emerges it may be a blessing that the deceased is no longer around to see how things unfold.

13 years from death to grave

In one of the worst cases of a family behaving badly that the legal system has seen a lady aged 82 died in 2002 but was not buried until 13 years later.

The family involved believed the deceased had been the victim of medical negligence in spite of an autopsy indicating otherwise.  As a result they refused to collect their mother’s body from the mortuary.  After petitioning the Attorney-General a coronial inquest was eventually conducted five years later with its findings published a further two years after that in 2009, now seven years after the deceased died.

The inquest confirmed the findings of the original autopsy that acute renal failure and pulmonary fibrosis was to blame – not medical negligence.

Further requests for review of the findings were rejected and the government took steps to bury the deceased under the authority of the Burial Assistance Act which provides for a government burial if family are unwilling or unable to do so.

The family then had the body transferred to a funeral home but refused to allow them to bury their mother as another five years passed.

With 13 years having now passed since their mother had passed away the Court ordered her burial by the government and she was finally interred at Mt Gravatt Cemetery on 10 March 2016, an astonishing 4800 days after her death.

Lessons learned

It’s hard to imagine there is any bright side to this story.  A life no doubt lived with hope for the children and grandchildren she left behind turned into a ridiculous and morbid farce by her own family.

What we can perhaps learn here is that in times of grief it can be vital to get the right advice early and rely on professionals to assist you through the process. 

Clifford Gouldson’s Tax, Structures and Planning section provides business structuring, estate planning and will making services to help get your affairs in order but just as importantly we are ready to assist families through guiding open and honest communications about your wishes in those difficult times immediately after a loved one has passed away.


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