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QUESTION: Wife and I anticipating both our burials being on 5 acres located in rural payne county oklahoma that we own.  Regualations concerning same should be available at some reference point.  Do you have knowledge of law, regulations concerning the situation or do we need to go into county regualations?

Your answer an assistance appreciated!

Steve Cook

ANSWER: Hi Steve,

According to the book Final Rights (Slocum and Carlson, available online), in Ohio "there are no state statutes that specifically permit or prohibit home burial" nor are there any OHIO STATUTES or REGULATIONS regarding burial location or depth. You'll want to verify this for yourself to make sure it's current (check cemetery statutes for Ohio online), and also with your county office to see if there are any local regulations prohibiting or governing it.

You should use biodegradable materials to ensure complete decomposition. If you bury in a spoke shape around a long-lived tree or (group of trees that like to cluster) at the center of the graves, the tree(s) should process all of your bones over time and allow room for multiple burials while still avoiding roots. You won't need a vault - it would inhibit decomposition - and so be prepared to fill in the grave periodically until it settles.

Don't bury too deep - 20-30 inches of soil above the grave (not counting the mound) is plenty.

Don't bury over a well or spring or any area that connects to a water table. The UK required 3 meters of soil between the bottom of the grave and the highest seasonal water table.

Don't bury within 150 feet of any water source.

You'll want to make a map of the area you plan to use that will go along with the deed and allows the graves to be located precisely. You should have some form of permanent marker to prevent confusion in the future. Be prepared to waive all visitation rights for a future potential buyer. Also, be aware that your grave may or may not cloud the title of the land, whether or not you've waived rights to access, and that laws may change over time.

Make these arrangements well in advance of need. It's not very sensible to wait til the last minute with county land-planning offices!



Note: I'm not a lawyer - this is common-sense 'expert' advice only - please consult licensed persons for information that you plan to rely upon in making your decisions.

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

QUESTION: Your advice information an interaction was greatly appreciated an informative.  The state was Oklahoma not Ohio but assume same approach would be appropiated.

Again unless theres something different about Oklahoma than Ohio that you are acutely aware of your time an advice is greatly appreciated.


Steve Cook

Oh, Darn!! Sorry about missing that part - OH, OK....alphabets!! ... The advice is still the same (after consulting the right chapter in Final Rights). Not all States have the same conditions so it's actually relevant to check. Thanks for noticing.

The book also goes on to state that in Oklahoma funeral services - i.e., ritual or ceremony with body present - can only be conducted by a licensed funeral director (!!??!) - 235:10-1-2 and 1-3 -- so supposedly this covers your pastor or religious leader, too. It may be time for Oklahoma to update its laws, and they may have, but that's what they were as of 2011.

The book advises using your own religious guide anyway, as it's quite obvious that the Oklahoma law violates the US Constitution's prohibition against interfering with personal religious practices. Constitutions come in handy!




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Cynthia Beal


Typical questions include 1) Where can I go for a natural burial? 2) What types of coffins, urns and other "packaging" are best for natural decomposition? 3)How do I plan for a natural funeral? 4) Do I have to be embalmed? and other questions in this vein. I'm available to answer general consumer questions about natural burial, home and natural funerals, and sustainable cemetery management. I answer questions about general cemetery matters, and offer suggestions about how to deal with remains, cremated or buried, interment rights, rules for cemeteries and plot owners, covering conventional as well as alternative options. I also answer questions from professionals, home funeral guides, and family members about how to manage a natural funeral either in the mortuary or at the home, how to best use natural coffins and urns, and how to convert cemeteries to natural, sustainable practices. I will answer questions from volunteer cemetery managers about how to offer natural burial in their rural, Pioneer, or non-profit cemeteries. If I don't know an answer I'll refer the questioner to someone who does. DISCLAIMER -- I am a certified pre-need sales person in the State of Oregon. I am not a licensed attorney, tax adviser, estate planner, funeral director, embalmer, accountant, public official, or any other professional that may be associated with issues the question brings up and any answers I provide should not be relied upon if such expertise is required by the asker (as per the All Expert suggestion). I provide my own personal opinions, based on my experience in business, Nature and its systems, and with human beings after 55 years of life on the planet.


Natural burial and sustainable cemetery management experience: I'm the founder of the Natural Burial Company and a member of the Sustainable Cemetery Management Group. Over 25 years in the natural products industry, and 9 years running the Natural Burial Company. I've done some consulting for existing and start-up natural cemetery operations. I'm currently an instructor at Oregon State University, facilitating the creation of a program in sustainable cemetery management and stimulating research in cemetery-oriented processes and functions.

ICCFA - International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association Green Business Network Funeral Consumers Alliance

American Cemetery Magazine; Funeral Business Advisor; Real Goods Source Book; American Funeral Director Magazine, etc.

There is no degree in natural burials or funerals, and no accredited education provided for sustainable cemetery management. We're developing a program at Oregon State University but it hasn't fully launched yet.

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