Friday, February 8, 2013

Remains of the Day – Relocating a Body

 
Digging a Grave
Moving a body from one cemetery to another used to be a rare occurrence, but nowadays, it’s becoming more common. 

The reasons to transfer remains from one cemetery to another are numerous:
Families may move away from their hometowns and want to relocate a beloved relative with them to the new area. 

Family Plot
The dearly departed may have been buried in another state and their closest kin wants to move them home to the family burial plot.
Cramped Quarters

The cemetery they are located in may be too crowded to allow the remainder of the family to be buried there, so the remains are relocated to a larger cemetery where everyone can be buried together.

Regardless of the reason, there are certain things to be considered before a body is relocated, or transferred, to another cemetery.
 
First, find out what is required by the state where the body is currently buried. If you are relocating the remains to another state, you will also need that information.  Most states require special permits and licenses, and many require that the family be in agreement on the move.

Advice
Next, contact your local funeral home for advice on the process of having remains exhumed and transferred, and find out what is legally required.  You will also need a funeral home at the new location to receive the remains and oversee the re-interment at the new cemetery.  That funeral director will be in charge of burial arrangements made with the new cemetery, and securing all necessary certificates and permits for re-interment.

Church Cemetery
If your loved one is buried in a church or religiously affiliated cemetery, you will need to get their approval to have the remains removed.  Being buried in consecrated ground is considered a sacred act, and the church, or acting officials, may have the right to deny your request.

You will need to contact the current cemetery and the new cemetery to coordinate plans for the transfer of the body.

There are many costs involved in transferring a body - 

When having a body disinterred and moved, you may need to purchase a new casket for the transportation and reburial. (A very basic casket starts at $500 and up.)  If the casket was placed in a concrete vault, it may be an option to move the entire vault, if deemed necessary. (Disinterring and transportation fees for a vault may be very expensive.)


Opening a Grave
Closing a Grave
There will be the cost of opening the grave at the current cemetery, and then the cost of opening the grave and closing it at the new cemetery.  (Beginning at $1,000 and up.)

Disinterment
A funeral director may be required by state law to be on hand for the disinterment, and another director may be required at the new location to receive the body and oversee reburial. (Beginning at $1,000 for each and up.)


Overland Transportation
Transportation of the remains will vary widely, depending on the distance between cemeteries. If it is a local move, from one cemetery to another within a short driving distance, a hearse may be used (Check with funeral homes for prices.)  If the remains are to be moved hundreds of miles away, an overland carrier will likely transport the casket. (Rates will vary, but could be extremely expensive, depending on casket weight.)

New Stone
Reburial
Remember too, at the new cemetery you will have the opening and closing costs for the re-burial. (Estimate $1,000 and up.)   Plus, the cost of a new vault,  (Estimated $1,200 and up.)  And a new headstone. (Varies)


Service and Interment
If you want a memorial service at the new cemetery, there will most likely be a charge for that. (Check with the funeral home.)  And there may also be a charge for annual or perpetual care at the new cemetery. (Usually 5% to 15% of the grave site price.)

It may be judicial to get estimates before you begin to consider if the move is financially feasible and also to help you control costs by selecting providers you can afford. 




Veteran's Cemetery
Do your research.  Veteran’s Cemeteries may waive some or all of the fees to transfer the remains of a veteran to their location.  Private and public cemeteries generally do not.



If you decide that the process is too costly or too involved, you might consider having a headstone placed in the new cemetery with an acknowledgement that the remains are located elsewhere. This would still give the family a place to visit and feel closer to the deceased.  (But keep in mind; you may have to purchase a grave space on which to place the headstone.)

~ Joy



23 comments:

  1. Great article! There is a tremendous amount of things to do to re-inter a loved one to a new location. I am basically aware of all of the necessary steps, but have not thought much about the costs... which will add up in a hurry. Thanks for the article and the alternate idea to simply place a marker in the new location (which generally will require the purchase of a grave lot - about $1000 & up). With the added cost of a marker, you will still need about $2000 or more, but still lots less expensive than re-interment and can keep the family & the church happy, if needed! John G. West

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  2. Please also consider that when you move a body, it isn't going to be pretty. I've heard horror stories from vaultmen who have to remove the bodies and place them in sealed or new vaults and really, its often better to just leave the dead where they are.

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    1. I had a local sexton tell me this would not be simply digging up a nice casket, dusting it off and reburying it. Thank you for commenting, NWC!

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  3. Seems a lot of trouble to go to I must admit, don't think it is something people over here in the UK do.

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    1. Bill, I didn't realize that. Would love to visit some of those UK cemeteries. Gorgeous!!

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    2. im in the uk and considering it as my father is buried in a church not far from me but the church has been sold and is being turned into some sort of bible attraction thing and I cannot stand the thought of hundreds of people being around it, am I thinking the wrong way about it?

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  4. My in-laws decided to move the remains of their deceased son so he would closer to them. They asked their other son, my husband, his opinion. He did not want them to do it. They did it anyway. It saddened me deeply that they ignored my husbands wishes to satisfy their own desires. I understand - it was their son. But it was painful for my husband. I don't know what the laws were in this particular case, but it makes me wonder - how does one prove to have a family in agreement?

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    1. I do not think you can as it was your husbands sibling and the parents are the custodians. I can understand they upset your husband but sadly it wasn't up to him and they didnt have to ask him but out of respect they wanted to know how he felt. In the end it was their choice. AS a mother who has lost a child I would listen to my other children but in the end its my choice legally.

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  5. Is it true that to move a deceased person from one grave to another should happen after five years from the time of death ?

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    1. I really haven't heard of a "good time" to move remains. Just be prepared - the casket and the remains will be quite changed from when originally buried...

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    2. w
      hat will the soil look like around a body who has been buried for 89 year in a wooden casket

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    3. By that point and time, it's all just soil ...

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  6. Does anyone know how much does it cost to transfer a body from NY to CT? Its a baby's casket. Please let me know. Email: marialara1@hotmail.com

    Thank you,

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    1. Maria, I would suggest that you contact a local funeral home where you are and one in Connecticut where you are moving the remains for the most accurate pricing.

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  7. How can I find out if a body is still under the ground where the family cemetery was? The tombstone has been moved to another cemetery but we think the body is still under the farm ground.

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    1. I checked with Chris Cooke, superintendent of Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana. Chris said that if there is a vault, the grave can be located with a probe. If the grave is older, then ground penetrating radar could be used. Check also with your state and see if it tracks burial grounds and registers them. They may be able to find it based on records.

      Let me know if you have any luck!

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  8. My father wants to relocate his father's grave so he will be buried next to her in our new family plot. He died in 1965, The problem is- his grave is at the base of a huge tree.(within 10 feet) The coffin was in a concrete liner, should be there. Could the tree pose a problem? It was planted when he was buried, now the tree is huge

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    1. Yes, Susan, according to my cemetery managers, the tree roots could cause problems. Contact your cemetery sexton for ideas on this. S/he should be familiar with this type of situation and have some answers for you.

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  9. Thank you for all the information. My Dad was buried 11 years ago in Puerto Rico to please my grandmother. Now that my grandmother has passed, I would like to relocate my Dad closer to us. We siblings and I live in NJ/NY area.

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    1. First, you will need to find out what the rules are for disinterring a body in Puerto Rico. Then contact the cemetery superintendent where you would like to relocate your dad, and see what is required to relocate him to that location.

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  10. My husband has recently passed away....his mother chose to have him buried with her family. I agreed since she said they had plots that I could have for when my time comes. She is now saying that I will not be buried with my husband because she wants to be with him which I find extremely unfair. How do I go about the process of possibly having him moved.

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    1. Kristen, Contact your local funeral home to learn what forms will need to be filed and get a general idea as to the cost. The funeral home and cemetery can best direct you according to the laws of your state.

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