You are here:

Funerals/disinternment of mother


QUESTION: I wish to disintern my mothers ashes in Washington state.  Yesterday I was told by the cemetary representative that it would cost $310. to open the niche and another $425. to remove the contents.  When questioned about the fees he said it was primarily for paper work.  I inquired about them reselling the niche-their price would be $1,720. of which I would receive half of once it sold.   He then asked if I would consider leaving 10% of my mothers remains in the niche then the $425. fee would not apply.  No other relatives other then myself are living.
Question: What would be the cemetaries motivation in keeping 10% in the niche as opposed to reselling. And, are the fees and methods proposed ethical and legal?

ANSWER: Sounds outrageous to me! Four screws hold the front plate of the niche on. Gimme a break. And the reselling price sounds like another rip-off. How much did it cost in the first place? All probably legal but certainly not ethical.

As for keeping 10%, they may be having trouble selling niches if their prices are really high.

What is your reason for wanting to move the ashes?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I don't know how much the niche cost in 1971 when she passed on.
I would like to acquire her ashes so that I can spread them through my life thus sharing with her in my mind.
Is there anything I can do about this situation?
Seems like all my encounter with funeral homes and cemeteries have had major cliches as the above.  I was once told that one had to purchase a casket in order to have a person cremated.

Thanks,  Christie

No they can't make you purchase a casket for cremation.

Ask for their price list to see if the prices quoted show up anywhere on that--opening the niche, removing contents, reselling. If not, then by all means accuse them of being illegal and unethical for making up prices to gouge the public. Tell them you'll file a complaint with the Funeral and Cemetery Board if they're not going to drop their prices to a more reasonable level for taking out four screws.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Lisa Carlson


Funeral Law. Having written a 512-page book on funeral law for consumers with state-by-state information, I am very conversant with consumer rights in this regard: What are the laws on disposition of cremated remains? Is embalming required? Do I have to use a funeral home? Can I have a home wake? Is it a state law to buy a vault? I prepaid for a funeral but changed my mind. They won`t give me all my money back. What can I do? . . . If you have an immediate need for information because a death has just occurred or is about to occur, you may call me at 802-482-6021.


I have monitored the funeral industry on behalf of consumers for over 20 years. I have been a guest speaker to funeral trade organizations, consumer workshops, and social service professionals. I am regularly consulted by lawyers and legislators as well as journalists.

Funeral Ethics Organization ( Funeral Consumers Alliance (

Caring for Your Own Dead (1987) Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love (1998) I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch (2001) Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death (2011) with co-author Joshua Slocum

Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

©2017 All rights reserved.