There are many reasons why you may wish or need to remove a departed loved one from their final resting place. However, before doing so, it’s vital that you apply for and obtain an exhumation license, even if the person in question was cremated rather than buried.
Fortunately, the process is quite a straightforward one, and as long as you have permission from other relatives and the relevant authorities, you shouldn’t face any problems in getting hold of an exhumation license. This handy guide will walk you through the process.
Why you might need an exhumation license
Any person wishing to remove the mortal remains of another must apply for an exhumation license, regardless of whether those remains are cremated or simply buried. There are a variety of scenarios in which you might need to do so, including:
• To relocate the body to a new burial site
• To enlarge the grave to make room for further burials
• To remove the body so that it can be cremated
What to do if you live in England or Wales
Those living south of the border should visit the government website and fill out the online application form with all of the relevant details about the exhumation. You’ll also need to provide signatures of all close relatives to show they are in agreement with the decision, as well as the owner of the land where the grave is situated and the burial authority themselves.
The license itself does not cost any money to apply for. However, the actual process of exhumation is likely to incur a fee, both payable to the burial authority and to whichever individual is contracted to actually carry out the process. There may also be costs involved in removing and/or reinstating any memorials and associated fees with re-burial or cremation.
What to do if you live in Scotland
In Scotland, the process is slightly different. The law requires that all of the paperwork and negotiations be carried out by a trained solicitor, so your first port of call should be seeking one out. He or she will then confirm the location of the burial and obtain a ‘Feasibility Certificate’ from the administrator of the cemetery in question, then contact the local Sheriff to grant the license.
Once the license has been approved, you can then make arrangements with the cemetery administrator for the exhumation to take place. Depending on what is to happen to the body after its exhumation, you may want to find a funeral director, contact the crematorium or arrange for the body to be interred in another plot.
A decision not to be made lightly
Losing a loved one is always a difficult process which can result in an emotional time for you and your nearest and dearest. Burial or cremation, and the subsequent interment of the mortal remains, can offer a degree of closure which it may be unwise to disrupt. Before applying for an exhumation license, it’s vital you talk the decision over with friends and family members to make sure you are all on the same page.