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



55 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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    1. anonymous my sister has recently passed away i was so upset when i found out that next of kin has organised a cremation. i want her to be buried at the same cemertry has my parents but her ashes are going to be scattered at a different cemertry where her still born baby was buried in the 80's. how much will it cost to have baby moved to same cemertry has my parents so that my sister can have burial and still be with her baby.

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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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    3. Ceri, Check and see if this group is offering any assistance in helping families relocate their loved one's remains from an area they consider will be "disrespectful." They may be willing to assist. If not, you could go to the media with your plight; I'm sure others will come forward if you do.

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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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    2. For better or worse, it is typically the choice of the person who was the executor at the time of death (by law its usually the nearest blood relative or spouse). LEGAL standing will always take the lead rather than (oral family agreement).
      NOW: For your husband...donate money to have a hiking trail, or a library research room, or a scholarship named after the brother. Its a great way to honor his memory and have a place your husband can physically visit. Remember, his spirit has moved on, his memory is whats important...good luck.

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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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    2. Another cheap way is to use a good metal detector. Most people were buried with a favorite ring, belt buckles, the casket has hinges, etc. DO NOT DIG! Only mark the boundaries with little flags and photograph with gps location.then contact proper authorities for investigation. Good 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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  11. I want my mother to lay next to my father I own the plot but she has been where she is since 1985 and recently her child molester was laid next to her in the same plot as my grandmother in the same casket he was creamated than when my grandma died my uncle put his ashes in the foot of hee casket without the undertakers premission and or knowing that he done so and all of his sister's was mad cause they didn't want it to be in the but he is in there and I wasn't old enough when my mother passed away that I had no say on anything of her estate. When I turned 18 my aunt still said I have no rights but I'm her only child and she was devorced from my father because her family made them get one. Now I'm 36yrs old and my aunt just bought a headstone and stuck it on her grave site nothing was said to me and I placed flowers on her grave site just for my aunt to remove them because she paid for the headstone and her aunt paid for the plot she is in. I was just told that when I pay for the plot she is in than I can have a say in the matter. It's not that my aunt is being controlling but that the man that sexually molested her for several years of her young childhood is right next to her. I live in the state of indiaIn and my father and mother are buired in the same state just different counties one is in Jay county and the other is Randolf county I want both in pennville Indiana that's where my father is what's the cost and laws I own the plot next to my father it's bought and paid for has been since 1990 deed in hand can you please inlighten me on the way to get her moved without my mother's half sister knowledge.

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    1. That's a tricky question. I'd check with a lawyer in the county where you're wanting her interred. Call ahead and make sure they have handled cemetery and burial situations. Also check to see if they offer free consultations. The cemetery may also be a wealth of information. Good luck!

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  12. After my mother passed in Montana, my stepfather had her urn buried out there. He would not take her family into consideration as most of us are in Minnesota. Her wish was to be buried here. She did not put it in writing and he said they were married so her ashes belong to him. Where do I start in order to bring her home to Minnesota. Thank you for any help.

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  13. Start with the cemetery where you'd like to have her interred. They should be able to help guide you. Good luck!

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  14. I live in Georgia and I'm wanting to relocate my parents to a private family cemetery. We three girls are in agreement but the two boys who are up north are 100% against it one didn't come to the funeral and one hasn't been down to the grave site in at least five years my sister and I maintain the area and visit regularly what are our rights?

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  15. Contact a Georgia public cemetery for more information. They may be able to tell you of an attorney who can help.

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  16. I'm going through this process right now. I'm moving my infant son from Maryland to Pennsylvania (he was cremated) and it is pure hell! I feel like I'm reliving his death all over again. I'm moving him due to the condition of the graveyard in which he is in, so far I have spent $3,400 & that's just at that new cemetery in PA for his new urn and grave marker. Since I can't use his one from the cemetery he's in now. It's been horrible!! I'm so ready to end all of it!

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    1. I am so sorry your going through this situation. I can't imagine how painful this is for you. Sending good thoughts for a quick and better solution.

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  17. my sister in law died and was cremated and was buried in N.Y. My brother died last week and he was supposed to be buried in the same grave as my sister in law. one of the daughters has now decided to move her mother to a different cemetery before her father can be buried with her. what can be done to stop her from moving her before we can bury my brother with her. The daughter has not had a relationship with her father since her mother died. Now she's trying to stop her parents from being buried together as was their wishes. can I and my sister, whom are brother and sister to the brother who has died recently, do anything to stop her from moving the ashes to another cemetery. she doesn't want us to know where she's moving her mother to, in order to prevent her father from being buried with her mother. what can we do to stop her. There are other sons alive that will give consent, but we as brother and sister to the brother that died doesn't consent. please help. desperate.

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  18. So sorry to hear of your situation. I'd start by checking with the cemetery to see who has the right to bury and remove remains in this plot. They should be able to tell you if the daughter has any rights to move her mother. If so, I'd contact an attorney and see what, if anything can be done. Many lawyers will offer a free session to discuss a case to see if it is something they want to take on. Good luck!

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  19. I've done this once already, and it waa quite simple. I relocated my grandparents to a family church plot within the same state (Ga). While in the process of moving my Aunt to the same plot (again within the state Ga), I was met with a lot of resistance from the cemetery (Westview). They started demanding notarized documents etc. When I asked why, all they would say was that it was a state law. If so, I asked, why didn't Ga Memorial require the same? Still fighting with them. I feel a lawyer is next.

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  20. Links to the legal guidelines would be great.

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  21. My sister died and was cremated, her body was buried in one Cemetery but our family has decided we wanted her buried in a different Cemetery but I'm not sure how to go about doing that or if it's even legal. Basically how do I go about moving cremated remains from one Cemetery in Pennsylvania to another Cemetery in Pennsylvania that houses the majority of our families relatives?

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  22. I would start by talking with the superintendent at the cemetery she's buried in. He or she will have overseen this process before and should be able to guide you on what is necessary. The fact that you're wanting to move her in state should make it easier. Good luck!

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  23. My mother is buried in a family plot with her mother and father. A space was also purchased for my father in 1960 after my mother's suicide. My father later remarried. In 1991, my father passed away and my step-mother had him buried in another cemetery in her family plot. My Dad had always told my sister and I that he had purchased the graves and the grave monument. Fast forward to today. My aunt, who is my mother's sister wants to be buried in the grave that was originally purchased for my dad. We told her that my sister planned on using that grave and we were told by the cemetery that we owned those graves. Well, we had a recent argument with my aunts and cousin were they said my dad murdered my mother and that they were going to have my dad's name taken off of the grave monument. We told them it did not belong to them and they would be vandalizing it to deface it. So I went to the cemetery to get something in writing and they gave me a paper stating that my grandparents actually paid for the graves, but we have nothing documenting who paid for the grave monument. Under the circumstances of how my aunts feel about my dad and the circumstances surrounding my mom's death, my sister and I want to have her body exhumed and purchase graves for her and my sister. We thought to avoid any more misunderstanding with our relatives, we would wait until our aunts pass away. They are in their late 80s and 90s. Our mother is buried in a Catholic cemetery. Besides the cost of the exhumation it looks like we will encounter objection from the Catholic church as well. Any suggestions?

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  24. Wow, you have a lot going on. I'd check with the cemetery as to who the monument company was that carved the stone. If they still exist, they should have the bill of sale. If not, check local genealogy and historical societies to see if those records ended up there. (State societies might also be a good place to search.)
    As for the Catholic church, I'd go and speak with a local priest, possibly at the church your family belongs or belonged to. Explain the situation and see if there is someone who can assist you in gaining the approval you need to move the deceased. Maybe even a mediator. Good luck!

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  25. I'm not sure where to begin but here goes: My brother passed away in October of 1980 and the cause of death was undetermined. For reasons unknown to me since I was 9 yrs old at the time, his death was never investigated. My parents were devastated by his death. He is buried in a cemetary in Chicago,Il and I currently reside in Texas. My sisters and I want to get his cause of death changed from undetermined to homicide so we can begin an investigation. However, we understand we need to have his body exhumed and taken to a forensic medical examiner to perform an autopsy. I'm not sure if we start with the cemetary or hiring a forensic ME?? Any advice is helpful.

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  26. I would like to attach my email to the previous comment.

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    1. nancytorres310@yahoo.com
      Sorry for the error.

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  27. Sorry for your loss, Nancy. I would suggest you begin with the police that handled the case. Since it was 1980, there may be a retired detective that would be willing to talk with you and explain what would be needed to have this case reopened. You might also check with the cemetery for records to see if there's anything unusual about them. I'm not sure what to look for but I'd go ahead and check along with those at the funeral home just to make sure something wasn't noted that you weren't told about. Set an appointment with a forensic ME and get their advice as well before deciding how to proceed.
    Good luck, and stay well! Joy

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  28. My father passed away April 7 (58)this year and was cremated the same week. During this time my siblings and I were in despair over the sudden loss of our father and our step mother used that opportunity to orchestrate his cremation and burial site through us claiming that it is what he would have wanted according to her word alone. We later found out my father was planning to divorce her and everything she has been arranging was catering to what she wanted using my father's name and even paid the funds using his money he stashed away in secret from her so her name was to sign everything off. We also discussed me starting a campaign to pay for my father's headstone but she derailed our agreement by saying she wanted to pay for the whole thing so she could deface it with her name on the grave while she's still alive and well. Now that headstone is in the works and she threw my campaign out the window to deface my father's resting place. We are scared to visit our father now not only because she is trying to force us to waive our rights to our fathers estate as the surviving spouse but we also realized how dangerous she truly is and carries gardening scissors with her when she goes to his burial site. My main question would be would we be able to relocate his small casket of buried cremated remains even after the headstone is completed? We want to bury his remains near his closest sister in NY and bring a portion back to his mother in Peru. We are unsure if the funeral home that helped us with the burial will comply with our request because she is the surviving spouse and continues to play the act of the pitiful widow with ill intentions.

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    1. Wow! I'm so sorry you and your siblings are going through this. I would suggest contacting an attorney on this one; someone who deals with family and divorce law. Who has the right to the remains and their final interment may end up being the decision of a judge. Best of luck!

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  29. My husband passed away 21 years ago. He was cremated and buried in a plot on his family's farmland. It was a newly purchased piece of land and I assumed at the time that the rest of the family would eventually be buried there as well. As it turns out my husbands family recently died and Grandpa and Grandma bought plots in the Church cemetery. Now Grandma and I are wondering if we should move the cremains to the church cemetery to be close to his dad. I believe we buried the cremains in a wooden box that a co worker made. After 20 years is there anything left?

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  30. My husbands father recently died. Not his family!

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  31. It depends on the type of wood used. I'd suggest talking with the sexton of the church cemetery and see if he or she will assist you in getting the remains moved to that burial ground. Even if the box has begun to disintegrate, they can take the surrounding soil and move it to the church cemetery.Good luck!

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  32. Hi Joy! Here is what is going on. My great great grandfather was a civil war veteran and was buried at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA. The government gave him a veterans headstone. In 1951 they demolished the cemetery and the remains are to be at Lawnview Cemetery, Susquehanna lot. They disposed of or sold the grave stones and claim to have moved all the bodies. However they occasionally find some when doing construction in that area. They found some a few years ago and the construction crew just covered it back up to be left under a playground. Anyway they gave everyone a grave number so they say he is in grave 74, but the whole thing is an unmarked feild with thousands of displaced bodies. I don't feel right about the whole thing. I read that after so much time there may only be a patch of discolored dirt left of him. He died in 1871. Part of me wanted to see about moving what they could even if it was discolored dirt, but im not confident that they even separated the bodies and put them where they claimed. So I suppose he can't really be moved to the plot with the rest of his family. Is it worth looking into the potential movement of remains further or is it futile to spend the money on remains that may be just dust? I would like your opinion. Could I hire someone to use one of those machines to see if anything is in his spot? Although after 150 years perhaps the casket would be gone as well? If I had my way I would put a large statue with a wall of names on the lawn with the name of every person unmarked in that feild. Sometimes I wonder if anyone could put in a large monument and could I ever fundraise enough to do that when most of these people were forgotten. Or give them all flat stones. The cemetery took 65,000 remains and I dont know how many are in that particular feild, but what I do know is they deserved better. My great great grandfather got a medal of honor and since 1951 he has been in an unmarked feild. There is one rusty sign saying the people from odd fellows were put here. Let me know your opinion on if it's worth looking into moving. Thank you!

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  33. Hi Rachel, I applaud you for wanting to find a way to remember not only your g-g-grandfather but also the others buried in that field, but after more than a century, there is little left to move. Your idea of a memorial wall is wonderful. You might contact the local Odd Fellows group to see if they would be interested in helping raise funds for the remembrance wall. They in turn could contact the state or national organization and see if more members are interested in assisting. If not, you could contact the local or regional newspaper or media outlet and see if anyone wants to do a human interest story about this. With October just around the corner, this might spark some interest. There are also crowd funding sites if you are comfortable with setting up the page and asking for funds yourself. A final thought would be to contact the Veterans Administration (https://www.va.gov)to see about getting a military stone placed where your family is buried as a remembrance. Good luck with this! You are right when you say, "They deserve better." Thank you for stepping up to find a way to do that. Best, Joy

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