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Funerals/moving cremated remains


my father died in 2003 and his wife took his cremated remains to iowa and buried them on top of her forrmer husband. i am the only child left and all his grandchildren live in the same area as i do. his wife passed away in 2004. what process do i have to go through to have his ashes moved from iowa to indiana. his was a veteran of world war two.


Cremated remains are generally considered "personal property" but there is no technical ownership of the remains identified by Statute, outside of "next of kin" as determined at the time of disposition. The next-of-kin - absent another legally designated person - may determine the 'final disposition of the remains' - i.e., who receives the cremated remains from the cremation facility. Burial of cremated remains is a choice (whereas burial of a full body is required).

That said, once cremated remains are buried in a cemetery, the person who owns the plot's interment rights is the person now in control of the remains, because outside of a court-order, the only person who can authorize a disinterment (disturbing the ground) is the holder of the rights.

As the oldest surviving child, you may be that rights holder, depending on your State laws. The cemetery should know whether or not you have the right to disinter the remains (the interment rights may have passed to you through de-facto inheritance). If they determine that you don't, they'll be able to tell you who does, and therefore whose permission you'd need to get in order to arrange for the disinterment and removal.

If the cemetery isn't helpful, you can contact the cemetery you want to move him to and see if they have any ideas - cemeteries can be quite resourceful when they're getting a new customer. Be prepared to pay a disinterment fee at the original cemetery along with the new interment charges.

Good luck!


NOTE: I am not a licensed cemetery operator nor an attorney.


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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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