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Funerals/Cremated remains


We have my Aunts cremated remains in a metal box that's was given to us from the crematory. We also have a burial plot at an old church cemetery. My question is: can we legaly bury the remains in this plot without having the expense of using a funeral home?

Hi there,

You should contact the cemetery sexton or management directly to find out if they require a funeral director to facilitate the burial or not. Some cemeteries do, but many do not - especially when the burial involves cremated remains, and the cremation - considered the FINAL disposition - has already taken place.

The cemetery's manager will have everything you need to know, including whether or not using the plot requires that you pay additional fees for opening and closing the grave, whether they require a marker of some kind, whether or not they require a funeral director to be present for a graveside service (when you place the cremated remains), whether they require a permanent urn vault, or if you can bury the remains in a biodegradable urn, and anything else you might need to know.

My answer assumes that the cemetery is an active one, that it's still performing interments, and that there's a manager to contact.

If there isn't active management or you can't find it, get in touch with your State's Cemetery Board. This is the group that licenses active cemeteries; sometimes it's the same as the funeral director board, and sometimes it's different. Make sure you're talking to the State cemetery board (this will be a government agency, NOT a cemetery trade association) and then find out who to talk to with regard to the specific cemetery.

If this turns out to NOT be an active cemetery and you can't find the management/owner, feel free to request a follow-up to this question and we'll see about the next step.




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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 Cemetery Association of Oregon. Over 25 years in the natural products industry, and over a decade of running the Natural Burial Company, founded in 2004. 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, and I own two historic cemeteries the feature natural burial, based in Oregon.

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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