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AGO 1953 No. 186 - December 24, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


Fifteen cent interment fee for cemetery fund under RCW 68.05.230 is not applicable to cremation alone; applies only where cremation is followed by inurnment.

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                                                               December 24, 1953

The Cemetery Board
Evergreen Cemetery Company of Seattle
111th and Aurora Avenue
Seattle 33, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 186

Attention:  Mr. C. S. Harley, Chairman


            This is in answer to your letter of December 15, 1953.  The question relates to the charges to be made against cemeteries and crematory organizations pursuant to chapter 29, Laws of 1953.

            Our conclusion is that the extra charge of fifteen cents per interment should be collected only where cremation is followed by inurnment.


            RCW 68.05.230 1953 Supp. provides:

            "Every cemetery authority shall pay for each cemetery operated by it, an annual regulatory charge, not to exceed twenty-five dollars, to be fixed by the board, plusan additional charge of not more than fifteen cents per interment made during the preceding full calendar year, which charges shall be deposited in the cemetery fund * * *"  (Emphasis supplied).

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            In some cases, cemeteries perform cremations but no inurnment takes place, while in other cases, cremations are finally disposed of by earth burial or placing in columbariums or mausoleums.  The question is whether the additional fifteen cents is to be collected for cremation alone, or whether the charge is applicable only in cases where cremation is followed by inurnment.

            The statute quoted above provides for a charge of "fifteen cents perinterment."  The definitions in chapter 68.04 are applicable to chapter 68.05.  (See RCW 68.05.010 1953 Supp.).  RCW 68.04 100 defines interment as follows:

            " 'Interment' means the disposition of human remains by cremation and inurnment, entombment, or burial in a place used, or intended to be used, and dedicated, for cemetery purposes."  (Emphasis supplied).

            Reading the language literally, it is apparent that when "interment" refers to cremation, the interment is not completed by cremation alone, but it includes inurnment as well.

            Grammatically, the phrase is used in the conjunctive.  The words "cremation" and "inurnment" are connected by a conjunction with the comma following the phrase.  Had the legislature intended that cremation alone would constitute interment, the phrase would have been punctuated thus:

            "* * * cremation, inurnment, entombment, * * *"

            The legal interpretation of the phrase is that which is called for by the grammatical structure of the sentence.

            RCW 68.04.120 provides:

            "'Inurnment' means placing cremated remains in an urn or vault and placing it in a niche."

            Since the charge is based upon each "interment," no charge is due until the final accomplishment thereof, by both cremation and inurnment.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            In our opinion, the fifteen cent charge should not be collected in cases where cremation is not followed by inurnment.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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