Court Bonds

Grave Appeal: Protecting Burial Grounds



Can two churches disinter and remove cremains (cremated remains) from a burial ground without the consent of the families involved? Reversing a judgment from the Probate Court, The Massachusetts Appeals Court found for the families and held that the remains could not be removed. Legal experts summarize the case.


The Promise of Perpetual Care

According to law experts at Goulston & Storrs , the Episcopal parish of the Church of the Holy Spirit of Wayland had a burial ground dating from 1966, with lots sold to parishioners who had the right to bury two cremains in each purchased lot, with an agreement promising “perpetual care” and a stated prohibition of disinterment without consent. When the Church of the Holy Spirit closed in 2015, a Coptic church bought the property above the asking price. However, since cremation is against Coptic religious beliefs, the two Churches jointly filed an equity action in Probate Court seeking “to obtain judicial permission to disinter the cremains.” The Probate Court granted permission to disinter and relocate the cremains. Although not all of the 56 families involved could be located and contacted, many were, and some appealed the decision of the Probate Court. JD Supra shares this summation of The Appeals Court findings:


First, the Court found that the contract between the parties (the Certificate of Purchase) did not allow the parish to unilaterally disinter the cremains. Having promised perpetual care in the Certificate of Purchase, the Court found that the parties intended to have the burial ground be the deceaseds final resting place. Second, the Court held that in the absence of a statute, common law trust principles apply to the disinterment of human remains from a dedicated burial ground until the families of the deceased have abandoned the remains or the burial ground is no longer recognizable as such. Third, because the Churches precipitated the sale, the Court was unpersuaded by their argument that the change in circumstance prevented the fulfillment of the trust purposes at issue or rendered it impossible to fulfill the familiesinterest in having their loved onesremains stay in the location agreed upon by the parties.


The Appeals Court also ruledthat disallowing disinterment did not violate the Coptic churchs right of the free exercise of religion. Having freely taken title to the property with the cremated remains already in the ground, the Court reasoned the Coptic church would not have to actively do anything in violation of its religious rights.” In reversing the judgment and remanding the case, the Court noted the decision “leaves many issues unresolved including the partiesspecific rights and obligations with respect to the maintenance of the burial lots and the familiesaccess to them.”


Good To Know: Appeal Bonds Explained

It’s worth knowing that when there are grounds for appeal, courts frequently require the procurement of an appeal bond, which in some states is called a supersedeas bond. Essentially, an appeal bond acts as a guarantee that the initial judgment will be honored if the appeal ultimately fails. Appeal bonds can also help keep frivolous cases from clogging our systems. Learn more about appeal and supersedeas bonds with this short video.


When a court requires an appeal bond, it must be secured promptly and filed quickly to comply with the timeline. As a leading, national provider of court and fiduciary bonds, Colonial Surety Company can help. Uniquely, Colonial offers direct and digital service. At Colonial, the steps to securing an appeal or supersedeas bond are: get a quote online; fill out the information; satisfy underwriting requirements; and enter a payment method. Once approved, the appeal bond can be printed or e-filed right away, even from court or the law office.


Obtain an Appeal or Supersedeas Bond Here.


Efficiency is Appealing


Lawyers anywhere in the country can sign-up for Colonial’s free business service, known as The Partnership Account®  for Attorneys, and save time whenever bonds are needed. Colonial’s a direct bond writer, so with The Partnership Account® you have direct access to our comprehensive portfolio of court and fiduciary bonds. Our court bonds include appeal, supersedeas, injunction, replevin—and more.

Our fiduciary bond portfolio  includes: administrator, estate, executor, guardian, personal representative, probate, surrogate, trustee, conservator and more.


With The Partnership Account® for Attorneys you can log in anytime, from anywhere, access our complete portfolio of bonds, get a quote, forward it to your client for payment, and then download and file the bond on the spot. Go ahead, obtain digital bonds from your mobile and e-file before leaving court (or the zoom room). Special issues? Specific obligee requirements? No problem—our knowledgeable staff is at the ready.

Colonial Surety is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.


Trust Colonial. We’re here to help: