Adrian Corbould: To be put six feet under? How about I meet you halfway? Hello, I’m Adrian Corbould, Accredited Specialist in Wills & Estates at Turnbull Hill Lawyers with the Battle of Wills series, where I talk about contested estate matters.

Contested estates is not limited just to disputes over the assets of the deceased person. It can be anything to do with the deceased, including who gets possession of the body, who disposes of the body, the means of disposal, the means of burial, cremation, anything to do with the deceased there have been disputes about it.

For example, there have been disputes over the location of the body, such as a spouse may want their husband or wife to be buried on their farming property. Though the executor who is not the spouse may say, “I just want them buried in a local cemetery.”

Now, to bury a body on private land certain criteria must be met. This is New South Wales. There’s four things that must be met.

The first one is the land must be at least five hectares. What’s a hectare? A footy field is about one hectare, so five of them. A private burial can’t be done in your backyard. It’s got to be quite a large area.

Second thing is the depth of the burial must be at least 90 centimeters, so that’s three feet. The whole six foot thing, it’s not legislated. It has to be at least three feet.

Third thing is the body must be in a casket or a coffin. The body goes inside the coffin, must be buried at least three feet deep.

Fourth thing is the coffin cannot be in an area that affects the water table. If there’s a possibility of that, a report has to be done. This is all legislated and regulated.

There’s more to it than that, but that’s just the basics. Why I’ve talked about that is these are considerations that happen in cases where people are disputing someone’s estate, their body, their disposal.

Generally, the executor has carte blanche say over how that occurs, but that can be decreased if in one’s will they spell out as best they can, how they wish to be disposed. I wished to be cremated. I wished to be buried. I wish to be buried at this location.

Those instructions are more likely to be followed than if it is silent and then it’s up to the executor who may then have a fight with the family members as to how the body’s to be disposed.

Hope that was of some interest today. Talk to you again next time.

Turnbull Hill Lawyers, and specifically Adrian Corbould and Mary Windeyer, have been named in the prestigious 2023 Doyles Guide. Both were also listed in the 2022, 2021, 2020 and 2019 guides.

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