Church of Holy Spirit of Wayland v. HeinrichAnnotate this Case
In this case concerning the scope of rights conveyed by a set of burial certificates, as sold by a church to its parishioners, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the burial certificates' unambiguous language permitted the court to disinter and relocate the cremated remains buried on the church's former property despite objections of the decedents' families.
After the church in this case was compelled and close and sell its property, it contacted the families of the at least forty-nine deceased individuals interred in the churchyard and requested their consent for relocation and reinterment of the cremains. Family members representing the cremains of twelve individuals did not consent, and the church brought this complaint seeking a declaration that newly-amended church regulations authorized it to relocate the remains. The family court entered judgment in favor of the church. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that this is the type of situation where relocation of the remains is proper.