Maybe I have been watching too many murder, forensic, detective shows, but it got me thinking, what would you need to legally do to be able to exhume a body or as they say on those shows 'to disinter' a body?

The real reasons (from what I gathered from these shows) to exhume a body is to verify that the person buried in that spot is indeed that person, or to get DNA evidence to prove something else in a case. 

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So, you want to disinter or exhume a body in New York? What is the process?


Well, it depends. Where are they buried? If the people that are related to (next of kin) to the deceased agree and the cemetery agree, then it is a matter of everyone agreeing and that is ok to proceed. Just to note, everyone will need to agree in writing.

So there is someone who doesn't want to exhume the body? What's next?


Then you need to start filing paperwork and you will probably need a lawyer. You will then need to reach out to a funeral director or undertaker to start the paperwork process, and then get a permit to exhume the body. Without this permit, and the sign off of all the family members, you will be unable to exhume the body.

Do you need a permit to exhume a body if you just want to move the deceased to another spot in the cemetery? Or if the integrity of the casket has been compromised?

Funeral For Disgraced Cardinal O'Brien
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No, if you are simply moving the deceased to another location in the cemetery, or if you are just replacing the persons coffin, no you don't according to New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, 13.3

What if the deceased is in an Ossuary? By the way, what is an ossuary?

Christian Vuong

I had never heard of an ossuary, but when it was explained, I totally understood why you would not be able to exhume someone from one. An ossuary essentially is a place where the deceased bones of several people are kept. The example was of a place that used a mass burial area or even one that occurred when a person had been in a coffin for a few years and then to allow for space at a cemetery the person is moved into a situation where more than one persons bones are kept together for eternity.

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