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Funerals/Grave and body ownership


My brother is buried in a casket and our dad owned the grave.  When dad died, he was cremated and buried there.  I assume his 2nd wife got ownership when he died.  Now his 2nd wife died and us going to be buried there too.  Can next if kin to my brother, which would be 3 siblings, stop this or can we have my brother exhumed and moved?  Or does the grave owner then own all the bodies buried there?  Who is the owner now, the 2nd wife's next of kin?

If the grave wasn't mentioned in a will, then I think it is your dad's grave, with no particular rights for his wife. You should talk to the cemetery. Each cemetery can make up their own rules, so there's no way for me to know what their policy would be. I'm reasonably sure you could move your brother if you wanted.


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Lisa Carlson


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.


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.

Funeral Ethics Organization ( Funeral Consumers Alliance (

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

Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

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Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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