By Deborah Halstead, Co-Founder & Board Member, Fallen Riders Foundation
When my fiancé died in a motorcycle accident in June of 2007, aspects of law that we had never considered … or had taken for granted … became a quagmire I had to navigate while still in shock. Without the friends he rode with I would have never made it through … and he would have been buried without ceremony in a pauper’s grave. In the tradition of passing the favour on to the next Rider in need, the Fallen Riders Foundation was born.
The information on these pages is of benefit to the general population as Death may reach for anyone at any time. Protect yourself and your loved ones … familiarize yourself with the contents of these pages and have the necessary documents in place!
The Call No One Wants to Receive!
There was no one at home when the State Police knocked on our door. I was out of state visiting my children. They went to our neighbours. Luckily they knew where I was and how to contact me. How will your next of kin be contacted if no one is home … or if you live alone?
In shock at the news … I hadn’t thought to ask where they had taken his body. Seven hours later I was finally able to contact his riding club (Southern Cruisers Chapter 137) to let them know what had happened … and to ask for help with arrangements. Little did I know the clock was ticking!
In the State of Louisiana embalming, burial, or cremation must take place withing 30 hours of death. If arrangements are not made within that time frame, the body is placed in an unmarked pauper’s grave. Blood kin or a legal spouse must sign for cremation. Common law marriage conveys no legal spousal rights!
The First Officer of our chapter stepped up and paid for embalming to buy time for me to return, to find a burial site, and to make arrangements for services. The Fallen Riders Foundation will do the same for someone killed on a motorcycle in Central Louisiana when there is a delay contacting next of kin or their ability to make arrangements within the allotted time frame. We will also help fund transport of a dead or incapacitated Rider whose next of kin are out of our area. These are emergency services only, and we respectfully request that those with the ability to pay reimburse the Foundation so funds are available for the next Rider in need.
Banks may release funds from an individually held account to a funeral home for burial expenses. They require a copy of the death certificate and must be billed directly from the funeral home.
A common perception is that if someone dies without a last will and testament that the spouse inherits and gains control of the estate of the deceased … right? Wrong! Familiarize yourself with the Rights of Succession. You will be surprized to find that even a legal spouse has little right to individually held property. A common law spouse has as much right as a casual acquaintence!
A legal executor is required for many estate concerns from signing titles to closing accounts, and can only be named by you in a legal will. Who do you trust to handle your estate in the manner you would desire? Even if you are someone who feels you “don’t have much” … take the time to file a legal will to protect those you care about!
What if you don’t die? What if you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself? A health care proxy (POA) will allow you to designate who you want to make medical decisions for you. A power of attorney allows you to designate the administrator of your estate. Carry a Fallen Rider Information Card with you at all times with at least two emergency contacts, known allergies, and the location of these pertinent documents. Time is of the essence in the event they are needed!
Be Safe! Be Prepared! Ride Free!