Birmingham, AL asked in Real Estate Law and Municipal Law for Alabama

Q: Can I bury my husband's ashes on my land? Hueytown, Al.

My husband died in 2019, I've had his ashes here since then. Can I bury him under the willow tree in the backyard?

3 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Municipal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In Alabama, there are no state laws prohibiting the burial of cremated remains on private property. However, it's important to check with your local government, such as the county or city, to ensure there are no local ordinances or zoning regulations that would prevent you from burying your husband's ashes on your property in Hueytown.

Here are some general guidelines and considerations:

1. Obtain permission from the property owner if you do not own the land yourself.

2. Choose a location that is not near any water sources to avoid contamination.

3. Ensure that the burial site is a safe distance from any utility lines or pipes.

4. Consider creating a map or record of the burial site for future reference.

5. Be mindful that if you sell the property in the future, the burial site may be disturbed or inaccessible.

If you have any doubts or concerns, you can contact the Hueytown City Hall or the Jefferson County Health Department for more information on local regulations regarding the burial of cremated remains on private property.

James Blount Griffin agrees with this answer

James Blount Griffin
James Blount Griffin
  • Madison, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: I would add that burial grounds are a special type of land use under Alabama law; cemeteries have their own sections of the Alabama Code. The burial of cremated remains by itself might not create a "cemetery" as defined under Alabama law, but if you if you put up burial markers, fences, etc. on private land, you might be backing into regulation by the state. As Mr. Arrasmith noted, cities, counties, and subdivisions also regulate the burying of human remains. I once represented an outer suburban county, once very rural, which had more than 300 little cemeteries in it, mostly with just a few graves. If you wanted a building permit, you had to delineate the grave sites. Messing with a grave is a big NO-NO. Do your homework!

Paul  Burkett
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  • Montgomery, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: This is an answer to supplement the general question and not a specific solution to your matter. Good thoughts here and also, I would add that depending on whether the location of the remains is deemed a cemetery makes a difference because in Alabama there is a code section which gives right of access to cemeteries. The Code of Alabama establishes certain rights in law as "Right of access to cemetery on privately owned or leased property." As with any situation you should hire a lawyer if you are in doubt about a situation.

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