SHOWBIZ> Celebrities
Michael Jackson's final resting place a mystery
Updated: 2009-07-09 08:39

Billionaire Thomas Barrack, who owns Neverland in a joint venture with Jackson, has expressed an openness to the idea of having the singer's body buried at the ranch. The family would need to get permission from local land-use officials to bury Jackson on private property, then submit an application and paperwork with the state Cemetery and Funeral Bureau.

The state application would then need to be approved by the funeral board, a process that could take anywhere from seven to 30 days.

Beyond that, accessibility remains an issue at Neverland. A single two-lane highway leads to the property about 130 miles north of Los Angeles, and infrastructure changes would likely be necessary to accommodate the additional traffic.

Another possibility is cremation. State law requires that the person who has control of the cremated remains obtain written permission of the property owner or governing agency to scatter on the property.

Funeral experts said the delay in Jackson's funeral may be due to the fact that such celebrity deaths create logistical, security and legal headaches.

"One of the issues you're going to run into with any high-profile name, whether it be a former president of the United States or somebody of Michael Jackson's stature, is what does the cemetery — if it's to be a burial — do to establish security, to protect the remains, to protect the privacy of the family during the service, to protect remains afterward and what kind of built-in overhead comes with it," said Paul Elvig, former president of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association.

Experts said even a two-week delay between death and funeral is not unusual. The body of singer James Brown was kept in a sealed gold casket inside his South Carolina home for more than two months before being interred in 2007 at the home of one of his daughters.

"You're probably talking more about an impatient public and an impatient press wanting to know what's going to happen and that impatience needs to be understood," Elvig said. "If a body's been properly prepared by an embalmer, it can be held for a considerable period of time with minor touchups to it."

Biggins said he is even encouraged by the delay.

"I think the fact that there's this pause is a wonderful thing because it's being given thoughtful consideration," he said, "to make sure this is done right and this is done in a way that honors his legacy."

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