Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Alone in death

BurialEach year in the United States, tens of thousands of bodies go unclaimed. Maricopa County's White Tanks Cemetery is not unaccustomed to taking unclaimed remains.

The "desolate cemetery," just twenty miles outside of Phoenix, often holds burial services for unclaimed remains. Marjorie Anderson's, a 51-year-old mother of two, remains were delivered to the White Tanks Cemetery in a plastic urn which was transported in a cardboard Costco box. 

Those present at Anderson's burial included an Episcopal chaplain and a few county workers, but there was nobody there that knew Anderson. Anderson's urn was placed next to 13 others along the edge of a freshly dug trench. 

Situations like this happen weekly at the White Tanks Cemetery, "where a record 551 people were laid to rest last year, part of a surge of unclaimed bodies." 

Although there are no official statistics about how many unclaimed bodies are buried across America "a Washington Post Investigation. . .found that every year tens of thousands of lives end this way." 

Further, Covid-19 increased the number of unclaimed bodies in a variety of places, including Maricopa, which had a 30 percent spike. 

Sadly, the problem was growing even before Covid-19 plagued the World. 

See Mary Jordan & Kevin Sullivan, Alone in death, The Washington Post, September 17, 2021. 

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2021/09/alone-in-death.html

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