I recently came across an interesting English decision which addresses the Court’s involvement in funeral arrangements.
In the case of Re JS (Disposal of Body), the High Court of Justice (in England and Wales) was forced to consider a dispute between the divorced parents of a 14 year old daughter, JS, who sought to have her body cryogenically frozen at death.
Unfortunately, JS was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and there was little hope of her recovering. As a result of researching cryogenics and cryopreservation on-line, JS said that “I’m only 14 years old and I don’t want to die, but I know that I am going to. I think being cryo-preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken-up, even in hundreds of years’ time. I don’t want to be buried underground“.
JS’ mother supported her daughter’s wish, whereas the father’s position fluctuated throughout.
The Judge held that the mother is best placed to manage the request for cryopreservation. One of the reasons for this cited by the Judge is that JS’ father had not seen JS for the prior eight years.
Accordingly, the Judge made a specific order “permitting the mother to continue to make arrangements for cryopreservation and an injunction preventing the father from interfering with arrangements made with respect to the disposal of the body“.
Subsequently, JS passed away and her body was taken to the Cryonics Institute, in the USA.
This is an interesting decision not only because JS’ wishes were followed even though she was a minor, but also and because the Court indirectly provided guidance as to the appropriateness of funeral arrangements while the affected person was still alive.
For other interesting Hull & Hull blogs on Cryogenics & funeral arrangements, please see:
- Who Has the Authority to Make Funeral and Burial Arrangements on an Intestacy?
- Pre-Paying for Your Funeral
- The Legend of Ted Williams