If someone dies in a foreign country can they be buried there or must the the body be returned to the US?

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If someone dies in a foreign country can they be buried there or must the the body be returned to the US?

My father was murdered last month in Mexico while on a trip down there; he was a US citizen. Mexican authorities are keeping his body until DNA results come back to prove it’s him. We know his wife has the rights over his body and what not, but my sister and I weren’t informed until weeks later about my dad’s death. He has no living Will. She has decided to bury him in Mexico; we want to bring him back to TX. Do we have the rights to have a say in it? Is the wife suppose to bring him back in the U.S. since he is a citizen? She hasn’t reported him being dead in TX.

Asked on August 14, 2011 Nebraska

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you do not have any papers signed by your father stating his final wishes concerning burial, the laws of most states are that the surviving spouse, wife in your situation has the final say where your father is interned.

You should start communicating with your deceased father's wife to see if some arrangements can be made to have his body returned to the United States for final burial. If it is a monetary issue, you should offer to pay all expenses for such. Your father was a United States citizen and presumably he wanted to be interned in his country, not Mexico.

If his widow refuses your request, you should consult with an attorney experienced in such circumstances. In the interim, you should contact the nearest Mexican embassy where you live and discuss what needs to be done to have your father's body brought back to the United States. You should also contact the nearest United States embassy in Mexico in the locality where your father died about the protocol in returning your father's remains home.

Contacting your local congress person and U.S. senator about your needs is also suggested.

Good luck.


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