14. A Few Boring Legal Matters

Especially for dealing with death in a foreign country, it's important to understand a few basic legalities. Under the circumstances, most government officials will try to be helpful, but they are obliged to make a thorough investigation of a foreigners death. So, be prepared. Following are some important legal considerations to: 
1) Cremate a body, and 
2) Transport the ashes and bones overseas. You can carry ashes on a plane with you, or you can ship them by mail. See guidelines below.
3) Prayopavesa - Suicide
4. Copywrite disclaimer.

1. Get Permission to Cremate.
         It is important to have a “Permission to Cremate” letter on hand acknowledging the desire of the deceased for cremation and the family's approval to cremate. If family members are unsure about cremation and debating what to do, it will complicate matters immensely. This is especially important for expatriates living anywhere overseas. The Permission to Cremate letter must be from a close family member and preferably notarized. Associates and family members should have this letter on file. The embassy of the deceased's citizenship must obtain this before allowing for cremation of the body.

         In addition, the following items are required for permission to cremate a body in a foreign country.
1. Police Report. (Meet the Superintendent or Inspector.)
2. Death Certificate from Hospital. (Meet the Physician In-Charge.)
3. Death Certificate from State Authority.
4. No Objection Certificate from Police after investigation is complete.
5. Post Mortem (autopsy) Report.
6. No Objection Certificate from Embassy or Consulate (for foreigners). Embassy will need letter requesting cremation from the deceased or the immediate family.)
7. No Objection Certificates must be presented to cremation facility
8. Current IDs. (Passport and Visa for foreigners)

         Your foreign embassy will prepare the Report of Death of a citizen abroad. This is necessary to conclude the deceased’s financial matters in the home country. The embassy usually requires the following information:
•             Last address in the home country
•             Last address overseas at the time of death
•             Cause of death
•             Confirmation on the disposition of remains (cremation, burial) from a family member and personal declaration
•             Name, address, and relationship of person who has custody of deceased’s personal effects.
•             Name, address, and relationship of next of kin to whom a copy of the Report of Death will be sent.
•             National ID (e.g., USA Social Security Number) from the deceased.

         Once the Embassy produces a Consular Report based on 1) the documents from local authorities, and 2) the next of kin or power of attorney, then the next of kin or power of attorney can use the Consular Report for all legalities in the USA. The most important thing is that the person's desire for cremation is legally specified.  For more information, US citizens can visit: https://in.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/death-of-a-u-s-citizen/

2. Transporting Cremation Ashes to India
A) Personally Carrying Remains
         Technically, the Indian Embassy and Consulates in the US request the applicant to fill in "the Miscellaneous Service Form" to obtain a No Objection Certificate to carry dead body or ashes to India. However this is often done without the red tape, if it is a small quantity of ash and bones.

         The rule is that if the applicant wishes to carry either the body or ashes of a relative or friend back to India, the following documents are required to be submitted along with the "Miscellaneous Service Form”:
     a.  Death Certificate in original with one photo copy 
     b.  Cremation or embalming certificate in original with one copy.
     c.  A Certificate from a Medical Officer stating that “the deceased was not suffering from any contagious diseases.”
     d.  Passport of the deceased [In case of US/Foreign national of Indian origin, only copy of US/Foreign Passport is required.]; and 
     e.  Miscellaneous Service Form to be filled in requesting for the issue of a No Objection Certificate. The first three Certificates (a, b and c) will be attested, the Passport (d) cancelled and returned by the Embassy along with a No Objection Certificate. All these documents are to be carried by the person accompanying / carrying the body/ashes. Fee will depend upon the number of documents attested. The Miscellaneous Service Form should have the details of the deceased and signed by the person submitting the application along with copy of his passport. 
     f.  For further information/questions, contact the nearest Consulate or the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, Tel: (202) 939-9867 or see http://www.indianembassy.org. 

B) Shipping Remains by Mail or Courier
         The US Postal Service has specific guidelines for sending cremated remains to a foreign country. The US customs permit and certificate issued by the crematorium and the death Certificate are most important.

How to Package and Ship Cremated Remains

         The United States Postal Service offers the only legal method within the USA of shipping cremated remains domestically or internationally. When a family member assumes the responsibility of shipping someone’s cremated remains, they should use USPS Priority Mail Express® Service. There are specific requirements for preparing, packaging, and shipping human cremated remains.

To ship the cremated remains, you will need to have padding and two containers — an inner container and an outer container. The inner container must be strong and durable and be constructed in such a manner as to protect and securely contain the contents inside and it must be properly sealed so that it does not allow loose powder to leak or sift out during transit. For international shipments, the Universal Postal Union requires cremated remains to be packaged and mailed in a funeral urn per the IMM (United States Postal Service ® International Mail Manual). PUT THE SIFTPROOF (ash/dust proof) CONTAINER IN A SEALED PLASTIC BAG

Use proper padding to keep the container stable and prevent breakage due to processing and transportation. For example, wrap or cushion the container with foam peanuts, or air bubble wrap. 

The outer container must be strong, durable, and waterproof. Line the shipping box with plastic or other material that will prevent leakage in case of damage. Insert your inner container into the shipping box and add padding to the bottom, sides, and top to prevent movement. Make sure there is no movement of contents within the shipping box.

Before closing and sealing the shipping box, add a slip of paper with both the sender’s and addressee’s address and contact information inside the box. If, for any reason, the address label on the box is obscured or lost, postal employees will still be able to identify the sender and receiver of the package. It’s easy to use a free Priority Mail Express box from the Post Office.

Clearly Identify and Mark the Contents

Mark the identity of the contents on the address side next to the shipping label. Use the Postal Service Cremated Remains label (Label 139), available at your local Post Office™.

Verify Address and phone number, Legibly Write or Type It, and Recheck It!

For Domestic Items Priority Mail Express use Label 11-B         
For International Items Priority Mail Express use PS Form 2976-B      

The U.S. Postal Service is the only shipper that allows the shipment of cremated remains. Here are the guidelines for domestic and international shipping of cremated remains:

If you’re shipping to a domestic address you must ship cremated remains using 1 or 2 Day Priority Mail Express service. 

Cremated remains are permitted to be mailed to an international address, under the following conditions:
1. Cremated remains are not otherwise prohibited by the destination country. You can verify this by checking the Individual Country Listing in the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service ® International Mail Manual.  
2. The package is sent by Priority Mail Express International service.
3. Package the cremated remains as described above.
4. Complete the required, applicable customs declaration form and indicate on the form that the package contains cremated remains. To determine the applicable, required customs form, see International Mail Manual (IMM) 123.61.
5. The Universal Postal Union requires cremated remains to be packaged and mailed in a funeral urn per the IMM.

3. Prayopavesa
Self-willed death through fasting is permitted in cases of terminal disease or great disability. The person declares the intention publicly, which distinguishes the act from suicide, which is usually performed in private, traumatic, emotional states of anguish and despair. The gradual nature of Prayopavesa distinguishes it from sudden suicide; it allows time for the individual to settle all differences with others, to enter into meditation and draw close to God, as well as for loved ones to oversee the person's gradual exit from the physical world. Meditation on the immortal Self becomes the full focus as one gradually abstains from food. An attorney should clarify one’s intentions by means of a Living Will and Health Care Directive to Physicians, according to the laws of your state and country of domicile.

4. Copywrite
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