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Maryland Laws About Cremation And Burial

Funeral

You might have opinions about how you want people to remember you after you die, but the way to achieve most of these wishes is through your conduct when you are alive, not through the perfect funeral.  Perhaps you have songs or hymns that you would like the people in attendance to hear at a memorial for you, and maybe there is an eloquent friend or family member whom you would like to deliver a speech.  Elaborate funerals where the casket costs as much as a new car and the embalmed body looks more glamorous than most people do when they are alive are not the only options.  Your wishes about your funeral may take shape due to religious and cultural beliefs or due to personal preferences, but you should make sure that the people closest to you know what these wishes are, and you should include them in your will.  A Washington DC estate planning lawyer can answer your questions about laws and regulations regarding final disposition of remains.

Maryland Law Does Not Require Caskets but Some Cemeteries and Crematories Do

In mortuary science, the term final disposition of remains means burying or cremating a body.  In Maryland, it is legal to bury a body in a cemetery or on your own private property.  Maryland law does not require a casket for burial, but cemeteries can make their own policies about what kinds of caskets or casket-like containers.  Federal law prohibits cemeteries and crematories from requiring the families of the deceased to purchase caskets from the cemetery or crematory’s chosen supplier; they must accept bodies in caskets chosen by the family, friends, or legal representatives of the deceased.  Another reason that the cost of burial is often lower than you would expect is that embalming is not necessary unless the funeral takes place more than a few days after the person dies.

Crematories also have the right to require casket-like containers, but they cannot require the decedent’s survivors to buy the container from the crematory.  Before a body can be cremated, someone with legal authority must give written authorization.  If you wish to scatter the ashes, you may do it on your own private land, or else get the landowner’s permission.  If you scatter the ashes at sea, you must do it at least three miles from land.

Is Alkaline Hydrolysis Legal in Maryland?

In 2010, Maryland legalized alkaline hydrolysis, a form of cremation that does not use fire, but instead dissolves the tissues of the body with chemicals.  As of early 2022, there are no crematories in Maryland that offer alkaline hydrolysis.  It is possible to send a body to an alkaline hydrolysis facility in Florida, Illinois, Maine, or Minnesota.

Contact an Attorney for Help

An estate planning lawyer can help you refine your plans to have your body cremated or buried after you die, as well as other aspects of your estate plan.  Contact Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing for a consultation.

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