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Funerals/removing a grave marker in north carolina

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Question
My deceased husband did not want to be buried any where near his mother. She put a grave marker on a plot next to her plot at the church cemetery to make it look like he is burred next to her without permission. I am the executor of his estate and want the marker removed. How do I do this legally in the state of North Carolina

Answer
Hi SB,

This must be a frustrating experience for you. Unfortunately, you can do as much about this as you could if his mother (or anyone) put a sign with his name, birth and death date details in the yard, or a newspaper, or anywhere else, for that matter. (I'm assuming that the headstone was purchased by the mother, and that she also owns the memorial right in the churchyard where the monument is.)

Even if what was written was untrue, i.e., if the stone she placed said he WAS buried there (and he wasn't), all you could do would be sue for financial damages you could prove to the court the untruth caused. In this matter, if you don't own the memorial rights on the gravespace, the laws are on her side, and it's becoming quite common for people to memorialize cremated remains - or even no remains at all - in cemeteries as a way to remember someone that was loved, so the mother's act may simply be one of plain remembrance, and not putting forth a falsehood at all.

I wish there were more constructive options to suggest. One - and this is a little tongue-in-cheek - could be to approach the churchyard sexton and pay to erect your own headstone, perhaps with a phrase like "in honor of my husband _____ who is now as far away from his mother as it is possible for him to get...".

In a way I jest, but putting pointed commentary on headstones is not unprecedented:

http://digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/quotes/epitaphs.html
http://archive.org/stream/funnyepitaphs00eatouoft/funnyepitaphs00eatouoft_djvu.t
http://www.costumediscounters.com/csc_inc/html/static/articles/epitaphs-humorous

While I understand the feelings of loyalty that motivate you, probably the best option is to imagine that your husband (whatever his current circumstances) has made peace with his mother, and hopefully that will free you to do so as well. Life is short, and there are a lot of positive things to do. Good luck in finding the next best ones for you!

(Hope that helped a little!!)

Cynthia  

Funerals

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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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