Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Burial Laws in Massachusetts

The Huffington Post this week has an informative blog post on the challenges of burying those whom no one wants. In Burying Mass Murderers: The Problem of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Tanya D. Marsh provides an excellent overview of Mass. burial laws, and the challenges facing those in difficult situations. She outlines two laws in particular.  MGL c.114 § 43M provides that  "every dead body of a human being dying within the commonwealth ... shall be decently buried, entombed in a mausoleum, vault or tomb or cremated within a reasonable time after death." MGL c.114 § 10 requires every town to "provide one or more suitable places for the interment of persons dying within its limits." But neither law seems to require a given cemetery to accept a particular body. She points out that the Appeals Court decided in LaCava v. Lucander, 58 Mass. App. Ct. 527 (2003) that "the right to be buried in a cemetery of one's choosing is [not] a fundamental right for purposes of equal protection." The piece concludes "If the family of Tamerlan Tsarnaev rejects cremation as an option, then it will likely find that Massachusetts law will provide little assistance in securing a burial place for him."

More information on burial and cremation in Massachusetts is available at our Mass. Law About Burial, Cremation and Funerals.