The application process
Whilst every state in Australia and many cemeteries have different by-laws in their governing rules, generally the principles and process in arranging an exhumation are the same and the following steps must be considered and undertaken by the family and the professionals of Exhumations Australia.
The first step in the process is to discover who has the legal right to enact an exhumation.
Similar to the process when someone dies there is a hierarchal process of authority beginning with the executor, flowing down to the spouse, children, parent or sibling. This process stays the same when an exhumation is to be considered. Briefly, an executor is put into place to ensure that someone’s will and funeral arrangements are administered correctly. The same process of permissions would need to be given to reverse or change the original process.
Generally a spouse would have the direct legal authority to enact an exhumation, to reverse or change the original process.
Generally when there is more than one sibling involved, assurances in writing would be sought from each to ensure the decision to exhume is harmonious and supported by each sibling.
Lastly, occasionally the person who has signed and arranged the original burial may not be a family member. Most cemeteries work on the principle that the person who has organised the original burial has the rights and authority over the grave and all matters pertaining to it in the future. If this is the case, written approval and agreement would need to be given by the burial rights holder for the exhumation to proceed.
Making application to the local authority
Historically, for many years exhumations were only approved to proceed when an exhumation license was issued by the local Health Department. Whilst this is still the case in many municipal councils, many cemeteries now have the legal right to endorse and approve an exhumation themselves, once the proper applications have been made. The various processes are still generally interwoven with most cemetery by-laws and Health Department regulations.
The reality is that approvals for an exhumation are generally given under the same general but simple set of guiding principles of safety, hygiene and professional standards which we will outline in the following pages. The professionals at Exhumations Australia have a complete understanding of what the authorities require for approvals and or licencing.