How Much Does it Cost to Exhume a Body?
Most of the time, the only reason we hear of a body being exhumed or a grave dug up is when it is commissioned by the authorities for reasons related to cause of death and solving a crime. Because this process is so invasive and disruptive, it is hard to imagine any other reason to open up a grave.
However, many families find the need to exhume or move the body of a deceased relative for more personal reasons. Whether they are trying to get the family together in one burial plot, moving to a new city or state and want to bring their loved ones along, or if there are more unusual circumstances to deal with, this type of situation can and does arise.
Exhuming a body is not easy, however, which also means that it is not cheap. Depending on the permit process for your county and the cemetery itself, here are a few of the expectations regarding moving a body and exhumation costs.
- Grave Opening and Closing: Just as you must pay for the opening and closing of a grave at the time of the funeral, so too must you pay for it during an exhumation. Expect minimum costs to run around $1,000/each.
- New Casket: Unless the body was recently buried or you paid for a high-end vault at the time of burial, chances are the decay will be extensive, and you will need a new vessel for burial and transportation. You can opt for anything from a simple shroud or box (for a few hundred dollars) to another elaborate casket (for a few thousand dollars).
- Disposal of Old Casket: It is not possible to simply toss an older, used casket out with the rest of the trash. This must be taken care of in keeping with local health and sanitation codes—usually in a kind of cremation. This may cost a few hundred dollars.
- Transfer of Remains: You cannot simply take the remains of the deceased into your own care—it must be overseen by a funeral director or other city official. Their time is typically worth around $1,000, and depending on your method of transfer (hearse, airplane, etc.), you can pay several thousand more.
- State/City/County Permits: You must have approval from your county in order to exhume or move a body. Fees related to this tend to come in at around a few hundred dollars.
- Re-Burial: Depending on what you hope to do with your loved one’s remains, you will have to pay for a new burial, cremation, headstone, etc. Expect these costs to be similar to those the first time around (with the exception of things like embalming and burial clothes).
Added up all together, these costs tend to run anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000—which means it is not a process to take lightly. If you do wish to exhume a loved one, be prepared to cover the funeral expenses out-of-pocket and go through some red tape to get there.