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Funerals/Person buried in wrong grave - cover up

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Question
Hi Lisa. My parents purchased 2 plots side by side #233 and 234.  Dad was buried in 1994 and mom passed away in January 2014. When we made funeral arrangements for mom, we were told someone else was buried in her plot, 234. They told us our mom had changed her mind and wanted to be buried on top of my father and that she had given up her rights to her plot to do this. I was very close to my mother and she always consulted me on EVERYTHING and this was news to me. We asked for paper work and were provided with a copy of my mom's contract, but they had changed the plot # and it is clearly evident. No new contract, initials or dates by the changes made.  The man buried in mom's plot had originally purchased 235, right next to my mom.  The cemetery said my mom gave up the rights to her plot and this man transferred his plot 235 to 234. It looks to me as if they double sold the plot or mistakenly buried someone else in my mom's grave. It looks like they altered the contact and they are not aware we have my mom's original contact, canceled checks and certificate of ownership for the grave. As a result, my mom was cremated and buried on top of my father and there remains a man in my mom's plot. My family is really upset over all of this. Your thoughts and direction would be most appreciated.

Answer
Who owns the cemetery? If it's owned by a large funeral conglomerate with deep pockets, you should be able to find a "personal injury" lawyer to take the case on contingency. If it's a cemetery owned by a church or town, forget it.

I'm happy to serve as an expert witness if needed and don't charge for consultations, only for a deposition or court appearance.

I certainly don't blame your family for being upset. Dreadful conduct on the part of the cemetery.

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Lisa Carlson

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
Funeral Ethics Organization (www.funeralethics.org) Funeral Consumers Alliance (www.funerals.org)

Publications
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

Education/Credentials
Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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