Disinterment Law & Legal Definition


Disinterment means to dig up a dead body for medical investigation or other purposes. A person seeking to disinter 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. Such reasons may include newly discovered evidence requirung a medical examination as to cause of death or verification of identity in cases of possible mistaken identity. State laws regarding exhumation vary, so local law should be consulted to determine specific requirements in your area.

The following is an example of a state statute dealing with the right to disinterment:

"At any time prior to the removal by said cemetery corporation, association, corporation sole or other person owning or controlling said cemetery lands of the remains of any person buried therein, any relative or friend of said person may voluntarily remove such remains and dispose of the same as he may desire; provided, that the person desiring to cause such removal shall, prior to such removal, deliver to said cemetery corporation, association, corporation sole or other person owning or controlling such cemetery an affidavit duly sworn to before an officer qualified to administer oaths stating the name of the person whose remains it is desired to remove and further stating, so far as is known to the affiant, the date of burial of such remains and the names and places of residence of the heirs at law of such deceased person. In the event that the person desiring to cause such removal is not an heir at law of the person whose remains he desires to remove, such removal shall not be made by him until he shall have delivered to said cemetery corporation, association, corporation sole or other person owning or controlling such cemetery the written consent of a majority of the known heirs at law of such deceased persons who are residents of the State of Alabama. The statements in the said affidavit shall be sufficient evidence of the numbers, names and residences of such heirs at law for all of the purposes of this section, and the written consent of the majority of such heirs at law named in said affidavit shall be sufficient warrant and authority for the cemetery corporation, association, corporation sole or other person owning or controlling such cemetery to permit the removal of the remains by such person; provided further, that the purchaser or owner of any burial lot or plat in any such cemetery or part thereof or of the right of burial therein or any one of the joint purchasers or owners of such lot or plat or burial right therein may cause the removal of any or all of the remains interred in such lot or plat without the necessity of filing any affidavit of consent as hereinabove specified, and if the right, title or interest of any grantee of any burial lot or plat in such cemetery or the right of burial therein shall be passed by succession to the heir or heirs at law of such grantee without formal distribution by order of court, such heir or heirs at law may remove the remains of persons interred in any such lot or plat, and the affidavit of any such heir at law setting out the facts of such heirship shall be accepted by the cemetery corporation, association, corporation sole or other person owning or controlling such cemetery lands from which such removals are to be made as sufficient evidence for all the purposes of this section of the fact of the transfer of such title or right of burial to such heir or heirs at law as alleged in said affidavit."