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Funerals/family dispute over relocating dad


QUESTION: My parents are currently buried in different states. My brother wishes to have my father disinterred, cremated & buried with my mother in Georgia. My father is in Massachusetts. I do not agree with the cremation of his remains & do not have the funds to split the cost of $10,000 estimated by the local funeral director for a transfer & burial of a new casket. My brother now states he will sue me in Massachusetts to get the right to cremate my father & move him anyway, and that I can be forced to pay half the cost. My brother is a bit of a "drama queen", but is this a possibility ? Will I have to hire a lawyer. There is nothing in writing from either parent.

ANSWER: Were your parents estranged? How did your dad end up in Mass. if your mother is buried in GA?

If the funeral director knows that there is another sibling, then he/she is highly unlikely to cremate if they know you object.

And NO, your brother can't force you to pay for it let alone agree to it.

You might write to the Town Clerk where the cemetery is located and let them know you object to any disinterment. A permit to disinter must come from the town. That should stop things in their tracks, especially if you have some good reasons to add such as estrangement.

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QUESTION: Thanks for your prompt response. My parents were not estranged, one died 8 years before the other & mother was then living in Georgia. Both are veterans & both are in veterans cemeterys. My reason for opposing the cremation is that both of my parents objected to cremation.  My mother expressed a desire to have dad buried next to her, shortly before she died,and they each have places reserved for them next to the other. I think that this shows that neither wanted cremation, as I was told by my mother. I do not object to the disinterment and relocation as much as the cremation.  I am now being threatened with a lawsuit in Massachusetts because I will not agree. Have you ever heard of a judge forcing something like this ?
Thanks again for your attention.

ANSWER: No, I don't think a judge will force anything one child objects to.

For $10,000, you should be able to get the disinterment, a new casket (as the old one may have disintegrated), and ship the body to the GA cemetery without cremation. It might even be less than that. Where in Mass.? I might have some affordable funeral homes to recommend. Are you willing or able to pay any portion of that?

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QUESTION: Unfortunately, I am not in the position to pay "my" portion of the cost for moving her with a new casket . The cemetery is the National Cemetery in Bourne,MA.  My sibling is working with a funeral director here who has been contacting me by mail.

Are you saying your sibling is working with a Florida FH? Yikes!! So many of those are owned by Service Corporation International with the highest prices around. Which funeral home? I can probably tell you who owns it.

You might suggest to your sibling that the only thing you can contribute are suggestions for cutting costs.

Start with suggesting Dyer-Lake Funeral Home in No. Attleboro, Mass. Tell them I sent him. That might help. How long has your father been buried? Perhaps he won't need a new casket.

Where in GA is your mother buried? Will see if I have a good contact there.  


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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.

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