The dedication of a new cemetery creates a permanent addition to the community. The extent of the design and planning, financing and long-term maintenance arrangements by those who own or control a cemetery, identified herein as the "cemetery authority," will determine whether the cemetery is ultimately an asset or detriment to the community.
All aspects of the final disposition of human remains should be handled with dignity, observing standards of decency, and in accordance with applicable laws. Final disposition can be in the form of burial, entombment, inurnment, burial at sea, scattering, dispersion into space, shipment, or delivery of cremated remains to a designated person.
The site of a cemetery should be dedicated for cemetery purposes and a legal description of the property should be filed with the appropriate governmental entity. There should be a statutory process to ensure dedication procedures protect the interests of interment right owners.
General policy of law does not favor disinterment, absent compelling reasons. However, a cemetery authority may occasionally receive a request for interred human remains to be disinterred and reinterred within the cemetery or removed from the cemetery.
Cemetery authorities offering predeveloped interment spaces for sale to the public should provide assurances that the future development and completion of the contracted- for interment spaces will occur.
When consumers consider contracting for cemetery and funeral merchandise or services, whether on a preneed or an at-need basis, important information that may influence purchasing decisions should be available. Chief among this data are truthful and accurate prices given in written form prior to a purchasing decision being made.
The necessity to retain documentation relating to funeral and final disposition transactions will vary according to the type of facility, the nature of the transaction, and the type of information involved. For example, cemeteries open with the intent of lasting forever.
In pursuing enforcement actions, the intentional or inadvertent nature of the infraction, the extent to which it endangers the public health, safety, and welfare, and whether remedial actions have been undertaken should be considered.
The specifics associated with cremation are issues of concern to the funeral service industry who performs this vital service and to the consuming public. Therefore, the consumer should have a clear understanding of what is entailed during the cremation process.
Funeral homes should implement a reliable system for the identification of human remains to give consumers assurance that safeguards are in place to minimize the incidence of misidentification. Further, in the case of a disinterment, or if a flood, earthquake, or other natural disaster disturbs the place of interment, the identification and reinterment of the human remains would be facilitated by this system.
In today's complex society, the issue of who has the right to control the final disposition of a deceased human being has become the subject of controversy. Written instruments of various types, including wills and durable powers of attorney, are being used to establish the right of an individual to control his or her final disposition, and are now indispensable tools for individuals to pre-plan for their own funeral and cemetery needs.