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Funerals/Burial in private cemetery

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Question
I own property in Maine that has several old private family cemeteries. These have not had any additions for many years,and I currently maintain these, but have unoccupied space. As the current land owner I am wondering if I could now utilize some portion of unoccupied space for a memorial stone and the cremated remains of my family members.

Answer
Hi there,

Maine has made clear provision for family burial grounds:
http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/plumb/burial/index.htm

General Maine cemetery regs are here:
http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/13/title13ch83.pdf

and here are the key laws broken out:
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~memoca/cemlaws.htm

Cremated remains are usually considered personal property and scattering on any private property with the permission of the land holder is not prohibited. Some States are seeking to regulate their burial, possibly because the interment rights are sold like burial rights, and the cemetery has a fiduciary obligation to maintain the plot forever (and if it fails to do that, the taxpayer inherits the burden, hence the licensing rationale.) It's unlikely to be widely supported, however, since contracts are already governed under another branch of law and no additional protections are probably needed.

It appears that cemeteries are not licensed in Maine - http://www.mainedeathcare.com/cemeteries.htm  - although I suppose that could change. According to this site, cemeteries are regulated by the department of health, making it likely that you'll encounter no obstacles at all with respect to cremated remains.

It's unclear what possible reason any law could have that would prohibit you from doing what you want on your own property - artwork, gardens, memorials for family. Truly a "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" kind of moment.

However, if you ever charge money, you're moving into regulation territory. Same for offering a place for others to scatter or bury cremated remains, even free, as you may be granting future access rights. That may be fine with you; it's just something you'll want to stay aware of.

Here's Maine on Family Burying Grounds:
http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/13/title13sec1142.html

You can probably get some pretty good information from the Maine Old Cemetery Association, as well:
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~memoca/moca.htm


Good luck to you, and thanks for stewarding heritage and habitat.

best,

Cynthia

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Cynthia Beal

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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.

Experience

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.

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

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

Education/Credentials
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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