A weird story that happened in Maine this week got us thinking about dead people, and where we put them. 72 year-old Carolyn Farnell died in her home recently in East Baldwin. She was, according to authorities, buried in her backyard by her 43-year-old son, Shawn Farnell. No foul play is suspected. It seemed Carolyn was in poor health and her son was simply carrying out her final wishes.

According to the Portland Press Herald, the out-of-the ordinary burial is under investigation because Shawn never got a death certificate or the proper papers to bury his mother in the backyard. Wait, that means I can actually GET a license to bury someone in my backyard? What are the burial laws in Maine?

According to the State of Maine website:

Many landowners elect to establish a burial ground on their property for the purpose of interring family members. Although a license to do so is not needed, such a family burial ground does have to be recorded.

When a person appropriates for a family burying ground a piece of land containing not more than 1/4 of an acre, causes a description of it to be recorded in the registry of deeds of the same county or by the clerk of the town where it is situated and substantially marks the bounds of the burying ground or encloses it with a fence, it is exempt from attachment and execution. The owner must have a description of the parcel recorded in the Registry of Deeds for the same county or by the Town Clerk.

To best assure protection of the burying ground as well as ensuring compliance with any local ordinances, we recommend that the parcel be recorded with both the Town and the County.

So if you want to set up a Family Burial Site, and if it's under 1/4 of an acre, and you put up a little fence...it's OK. If you are going to do this, just don't make the mistake Shawn in Wast Baldwin made. Get a Death Certificate


On Your Land: No problem. Scatter away. If on someone else's land...you may want to ask permission first!

On Public Land: You may want to check local laws, but usually no one will give you a hard time...just use common sense.

At Sea: The rule is to be at least 3 nautical miles away. I guess beaches, rivers, streams and lakes are kind of frowned upon. EPA Clean Water rules and such.

At Fenway Park: Oh c'mon, you've seen it a thousand times.