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Funerals/Digging Up Daddy


My mother and father have been divorced since I was a child and I am 50+ now.  My father remarried shortly after the divorce.  He was not happy and never stopped loving my mother.  My step mother would not let us see my father, so me and the other 3 children would have to see dad at his work or sneak around to see him. When he passed several of years ago, his wife could not get him in the ground fast enough, he wanted to be cremated.  She would not purchase a vessel, or anything for the ashes, she was demanding the insurance money from the funeral director, and did not want to pay for anything at all.  He told her that she would have to purchase a vault for the ashes, and she was not happy about that.  She also refused to get a marker for the grave and it has been almost 4 years now.  So my father is in an unmarked grave, in the plastic bag, and the plastic box that he came back in.
We live in SC and we have talked to the funeral director and he said that we need permission from her to do this.
She is now in a nursing home in another state (NC), and now has dementia.  How can we go about having our father exhumed so that we can have him buried in the family plot.  We want to bury him and mother together when she passes.

Go to Probate Court in SC. You don't need a lawyer. Explain the situation. Typically, the spouse gets the say-so, so it will be an uphill battle. But the fact that it's an unmarked grave might be in your favor. The Probate Court might say you have to wait until she dies. Let me know how you make out.


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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

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

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