Second rite burial confusion

burialchallenged
2 years ago

My stepfather recently passed in CA and wished his ashes to be interred in his father’s burial plot  (his father passed in the 1940’s) in Michigan. After his local cremation, I contacted the Memorial Park in Michigan for reception of ashes, ordering of his headstone, prep of the plot with burial and to establish payment for service prior to our arrival in Michigan. They had several items which needed to be addressed:

1. His birth certificate: Difficult to get since he was born at home, but completed.

2. Proof he doesn’t have other siblings: How we can prove this since we only have his word regarding being an only child?

3. Wedding certificate and proof of my Mother’s identity – I suspect we need something notarized for proof.

4. Apparently the urn we purchased specifically for shipment (as per their instructions) can not be buried – they mentioned there must be an encasement? Is this typical or is it a specific state requirement? I was told there would be a charge of 50% of the real-estate cost of the plot, plus grave marker, service and now (they just brought this up) the special encasement for the ashes.

I hadn’t heard of “second rites” funeral practices before, thus it’s been a confusing. Are there any additional considerations for this type of burial which we should consider? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers!

Jennifer Lane
2 years ago

I can totally see why this has been confusing, so let me give you some background to help with understanding of what the cemetery is requesting.

When a person purchases a grave space, that person is not buying that piece that land (like you do when you buy a house.) They are purchasing a right of interment (or interment right). 1 space is 1 right of interment. That person is now the “owner” of the right to inter a body in that space. Only the owner of the interment right has the authority to grant permission for a burial to occur in that space. Usually, this interment right is used by the owner. (Likely your stepfather’s father in your case.)

If the person (owner) bought more than 1 space – say 4 spaces, that is 4 interment rights and only the owner can grant permission for a burial of anyone (to use an interment right) in those 4 spaces.

Now, when the owner of the space (interment right) has passed, any remaining interment rights are passed to the next heir or heirs. Usually, this is first the surviving spouse, then if no surviving spouse, it is all the children of the owner, equally. I am guessing that with the question of siblings, birth certificate, etc – they are trying to establish who they need to get permission from for this burial to take place on the grave of your stepfather’s father.

The 2nd right of interment is very common for burying cremated remains in the same space where a burial has occurred. Because the original purchase is for just 1 interment right, to do another burial of ashes in the same space requires a 2nd interment right. Most all cemeteries charge a fee for the 2nd right of interment, and it is usually a much smaller amount than the cost of the 1st right of interment. They will also charge a fee for the burial of the ashes.

This encasement you mentioned is an Urn Vault. Just like a casket is buried in a vault, many cemeteries when burying ashes on a grave will require an Urn Vault. It is a small container that is larger than the container with the ashes. The purpose of a vault and urn vault is to support the ground for the maintenance equipment (mowers, backhoes) that must drive over the grounds to maintain the cemetery. Heavy equipment exerts several PSI (pounds per square inch) of pressure on the ground. To keep the ground from caving in or sinking in, the vaults and urn vaults are designed to help withstand this pressure.

An urn vault shouldn’t cost more than about $200, and urn is placed inside it for burial. You can google “Urn Vault” and see what options there are. You can purchase your own, but I would definitely get the cemetery’s specifications so you don’t buy one they would object to for some reason.

It can get a little complicated when the original owner of the interment right has long since passed and if it wasn’t explained well by the cemetery, then I hope this was helpful to clear up some confusion.

burialchallenged
2 years ago

Thank you so much! We just received a quote for over $900 for the urn vault, thus we’re in discussions regarding purchasing whatever type they require separately. You’ve given us a good perspective on a difficult process.

Much appreciation!

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