Exhume a Body

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A person seeking to exhume a body must usually petition to have the body exhumed. Because of the general disinclination to disturb remains, a valid reason is required before exhumation will be allowed.

Exhumation means the removal from the ground of a body or cremated remains. It also covers the disturbance of remains within a grave, particularly when a grave is reopened for burial.



How to Exhume a Body?

If a body is exhumed, it is taken out of the ground or place where it was buried. Several agencies must approve your request before you can exhume a body or remains. You will also need to get approval from the state agencies in the location where you are transferring the body.

Each state has their own requirements as well as each cemetery. After getting the site approved and having health and safety officers present you are ready to start. The process usually takes place in the morning for the most privacy. This process is also held typically in the summer months, with warmer temps so the soil is easy to dig up.

You can move a body or remains for many reasons; this can happen for personal reasons, to move to their home country, for DNA testing, or for further investigation.

Some families simply choose to move their loved ones with them so everyone can be on a family plot in the same state. No matter what the reason for removing a body or remains, you will need to have documents and multiple agencies involved. Moving remains used to be a very rare occurrence, but are now happening more and more.

How Much Does it Cost to Exhume a Body and Move it?

Exhuming a body depends on the local permit process and cemetery fees. The fee to open and close the grave is normally $1,000 each. The excavation typically requires manual labor and machinery. This may add costs. If necessary, you must dispose of the old casket and purchase a new one for transportation. Transferring the remains requires the services of a funeral director, which costs about $1,000 sometimes more, based on hourly rates.

A family will also need a funeral director at the new location of the resting place to accept the body. They will then arrange all of the burial plans for the new location. Many times families are asked to not be at the cemetery when a body is removed. It can be very emotional. They are fully included in the re-burial process.

Permits are also required to exhume a body and fees vary based on location. The final cost being the re-burial of the body. At the new resting place the loved ones will have to either transport the headstone or purchase a new one which can add up quite a bit for the total cost. Together, these costs tend to range between $5,000 and $15,000.If you are planning to exhume a body or remains, you’ll have to pay for the funeral costs out of pocket and navigate the red tape involved.

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