Exhumation is a delicate matter — and is more commonly seen on our screens in detective dramas than as a subject for discussion round the dinner table.
So it’s no surprise that many people aren’t familiar with the process, especially here in Scotland where it’s different to the rest of the UK.
In England there is no real requirement for solicitors to become involved. Instead, the funeral director submits a form to the Ministry of Justice, where a decision is made within 20 days of receipt.
Here, it’s likely decisions will take a bit longer.
Next of kin need to request the authority of the sheriff court through a summary application, which is submitted together with a number of reports and certificates. All of the deceased’s next of kin need to be served with the papers, and have the right to object if they do not agree.
The sheriff weighs up whether they believe the application is appropriate and, if so, a warrant to exhume is granted.
There are many logical reasons why people choose to have a loved one’s remains moved.
We’ve seen cases where the family of someone who’s died have moved away from the local area. And situations like this, especially if there’s no-one left locally to tend the grave or those who have moved are less able to travel, are grounds for an application.
Other reasons may include wishing to have a husband and wife, or parent and child, buried together.
Whatever the reason, the best advice is to speak to a solicitor early on.
Our family team at Ledingham Chalmers is the main point of contact for exhumation advice, guiding clients through the needs and requirements as well as the associated costs.
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