Family disputes over a loved one’s funeral arrangements are increasingly frequent, with courts intervening if consensus cannot be reached. In many common law jurisdictions, the law favours the executor where the deceased made a will and the highest ranking next-of-kin where the deceased died intestate. But what if two or more people fall within the same kinship tier and have equal rights to determine the deceased’s fate—who has the final say? Adopting a uniquely comparative approach which draws the authorities together for the first time, this article analyses the factors devised by judges in Australia and England, and contrasts them with the discrete statutory tests adopted in parts of Canada and the United States. Having evaluated the various approaches, the article proposes its own hybrid legal solution for breaking the deadlock in so-called ‘equal kinship disputes’.
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