How to transport the ashes of a relative who died at home to America - ForumDaily
The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
Переклад цього матеріалу українською мовою з російської було автоматично здійснено сервісом Google Translate, без подальшого редагування тексту.
Bu məqalə Google Translate servisi vasitəsi ilə avtomatik olaraq rus dilindən azərbaycan dilinə tərcümə olunmuşdur. Bundan sonra mətn redaktə edilməmişdir.

How to transport the ashes of a deceased relative from the homeland to the US

While immigration can bring exciting opportunities, it often tears apart and disunites many families. The story is familiar– the parents stay in Russia and their children move to the United States. When the parents pass away, their children bury them and then find themselves torn between their family, their work in the United States, and the responsibility of taking care of their loved one’s burial back in their homeland. They may ask their relatives in their home country to look after their parent’s graves, while their hearts break from not having the ability to do it themselves. I am sure that most immigrant families have faced these challenges to a certain extent.

Photo: IStock

I’ve been involved in immigration paperwork processing starting at the age of 18 when I began working at a public court. Ever since I’ve been fortunate to carry out this work in many different jurisdictions. Document processing is my strong suit, and throughout my professional career, my work has been regarded as exemplary.

I live with my children in the suburbs of New York, on Long Island. But we decided to spend the summer of 2018 in South Brooklyn, living in an apartment building. When I went down to the laundry room, I saw a notice that read: “NOTARY IN PREMISSES. ARARTMENT XX.” It was written by an American woman, a retired police officer, who could do little to help the Russian-speaking community. And I thought: “I also have a notary license, I can do that too.” I thought about it and hung up a non-competing advertisement nearby: “Preparation of documents for abroad. Powers of attorney, apostilles, translations. Apartment YY.”

One of the following days the doorbell rang. A sweet woman of about 75 stood at the door. She introduced herself as Marina and, with tears in her eyes, asked to come up to her apartment. I got up. On the walls of her apartment hung photographs of her mother and father, young and perky, 25; and those who are 40, and then - one mother, older and older. I remembered that I had seen her mother many times in the elevator when I came to this house before. Marina told me that dad died a long time ago in Leningrad, and she just buried her mom, and all she wants is for mom and dad to be close.

“Please help,” she cried to me.

- What can I do for you? – I was perplexed.

— Prepare documents for transporting dad’s ashes from Leningrad to New York.

“What a challenge,” I thought. I've never done this before. But she looked at me with eyes full of tears and hope.

“I won’t be able to die peacefully if my mom and dad aren’t together, I’ll burn in hell,” she continued. And I agreed. I couldn’t look into those eyes full of pain and hope and I simply couldn’t refuse her.

I sorted out her affairs and completed the initial documents.

“Who prepared your documents like this,” the director of the cemetery in St. Petersburg asked my client and wrote down my phone number, which somehow surprisingly quickly spread through the cemeteries of first St. Petersburg and then Moscow. And people from all over America reached out to me: New York, Boston, San Francisco... “Help me make the documents so that they will be accepted in Russia.”

That's how it all started and began to gain momentum, especially after opening an office at 1400 Ave Z in Brooklyn. And then a month ago, a woman named Larisa contacted me, for whom I had arranged an inheritance a year ago after the death of her dad. She cried non-stop - both a year ago, when her dad just died, and now, more than a year later. Like Marina, she could not accept the fact that dad was buried in Moscow and mom in New York. Larisa had no one left in Moscow, there was no one to care for her father’s grave, times in the world had come such that she could not even go to her father’s funeral, and was very worried and cried.

-Can you bring me my father's ashes? - she asked.

— Do the documents? – I asked again.

- No, Karinochka, I will never fly to Moscow again. Bring me my father's ashes. I have to bury him here with my mother. He left a will. When he was dying, he could no longer go to the notary, and he wrote on a piece of paper and taped it to the door: “Daughter, I’m dying. When you read this message of mine, I will no longer exist. But you must ensure that after my death my body is cremated in the Nikolo-Arkhangelsk Crematorium, and you must take the ashes to New York and bury me with your mother.” “I must fulfill his last wish,” Larisa sobbed in my office.

So I got to work. First off, I gathered the documents:

  1. Power of attorney is required for the retrieval of the urn with ashes and the acquisition of the necessary documents;
  2. Death certificate with translation;
  3. Medical report on the cause of death;
  4. Statement from the funeral home confirming that the urn contains the cremated remains of the deceased.

Then I began looking for ways to deliver the ashes from Moscow to New York. Ashes can be transported using two methods:

  1. Utilizing the services of a customs broker. This would ensure that the remains could be transported from Moscow to New York. However, sending the ashes of a beloved person in this way felt wrong to me. It seemed to indicate a lack of respect for the memory of the deceased. Moreover, the delivery times promised by the customs brokers were exceptionally long, and weren’t even guaranteed.
  2. Then I began to consider the possibility of transporting the ashes by courier. All clients who previously contacted me, who were limited to the service of correct paperwork, transported the ashes themselves. So it's possible. I instructed my eldest son, my main assistant, to call airline offices in New York and find out the details. Finnair said that there are no problems transporting this cargo in hand luggage, but warned that not all of their employees speak English, and asked for translations of documents, including into Finnish.

“Do you think we’d receive it by Christmas?” – Larisa asked hopefully.

“I think that much earlier, perhaps even in September, but this is not certain,” I answered evasively, so as not to give her hopes and subsequent disappointments.

We spent the entire journey - from Moscow to St. Petersburg, from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, and from Helsinki to New York - with the courier in interactive mode. And on the evening of September 27, I sent my son to meet his plane. Then she drove up herself. And so, the task is completed, and the valuable cargo is handed over to the recipient. Surprisingly, today was the first time she didn't cry. She has almost fulfilled her father’s last wish; all that remains is to serve a memorial service and give ashes to the earth.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants, and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read all this on ForumDaily New York.

I am proud to assist people like Marina and Larisa whose hearts remain in Russia, even though they might never physically return there. It feels like an important and worthwhile endeavor.

By the way, all this works in the opposite direction. After all, it is important for someone to transport the ashes of their parents who died in America to Russia, they bequeathed it that way. And in this Our New York office is happy to help those who want to arrange transportation for their deceased parents’ ashes from the US to Russia, or vice versa, as per their wishes.

Material prepared in partnership with

Karina Duval - lawyer, notary, expert in international law

Russian registration: #78/857
NYS registration: 4775086
Notary public, registration: 02DU6376542

tel: + 7 (921) 946-0582 (in Russia) / + 1 (718) 704-8558 (in USA)
[email protected],

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