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Tanya Marsh, J.D. - Wake Forest University. Winston-Salem, NC, US

Tanya Marsh, J.D. Tanya Marsh, J.D.

Professor of Law | Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, NC, UNITED STATES

Marsh uses her legal expertise in real estate and banking to frame her research in the legal treatment of human remains and burial.


Tanya Marsh is the leading authority on funeral law and cemetery law, an expertise that is paired with her extensive legal knowledge and research in real estate, banking, and business. Because her scholarly interests are broad in scope, Marsh has contributed to various research topics, such as the regulation of the American funeral industry, the legal treatment and disposition of human remains, and property interests in burial places as well as community banking, commercial real estate, and the Dodd Frank Act. She is the creator and author of the podcast, Death, et seq., which explores the complex relationship between the living, the dead, and the law.

Areas of Expertise (11)

Property Law Real Estate Business Law Real Estate Law Cemetery Law Funeral Law Burial Law Human Remains Dodd Frank Community Banks Contracts





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Education (2)

Harvard Law School: J.D., Law 2000

Indiana University: B,A,, History and Political Science 1994

Affiliations (10)

  • American College of Real Estate Lawyers
  • American Bar Association’s Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section
  • Association of American Law Schools
  • American Bar Foundation
  • Property Law Section
  • Real Property Trust and Estate Law Journal
  • Southeastern Association of Law School
  • State of California, Funeral Director
  • The Funeral Law Blog
  • The American Law Institute

Media Appearances (5)

These Popular Instagram Accounts Are Selling Human Remains

Vice News  


To clarify, I called up Tanya Marsh, a law professor at Wake Forest University who specializes in funeral and cemetery law and runs the podcast Death, et seq. She said US law around human remains is vague because they don't quite fit into the two categories—people or property—that define our legal system.

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Bricks-and-Mortar Banks Stage a Comeback

Ozy Magazine  


A handful of new banks opening in prosperous cities like Boston and Austin doesn’t necessarily reverse years of bank closures or mergers, says Tanya Marsh from Wake Forest University.

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After months of controversy, Texas will require aborted fetuses to be cremated or buried

The Washington Post  


As Emma Green wrote in the Atlantic, legal guidelines for organ and tissue use are somewhat of a murky area. Tanya Marsh, a law professor at Wake Forest University, said, “The question of what we own of ourselves — what is the legal status of biological material that’s been removed from us — there’s very little law about that, except to say that it’s not ours.”

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The Latest Anti-Abortion Trend? Mandatory Funerals for Fetuses

The Nation  


Logistics are another issue. Dr. Tanya Marsh, a professor at Wake Forest Law School, said that the funeral industry is not set up to deal with remains this small. For one thing, neither caskets nor cemetery plots are designed to handle something the size of a prune.

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Hundreds of mystery human skulls sold on eBay for up to $5500



Until last week, eBay’s official policy as stated on its website was that it doesn’t allow the sale of human remains, with two exceptions – “items containing human scalp hair, and skulls and skeletons intended for medical use”. However, sellers could say that skulls were for medical use without proving it, and still sell them as curiosities, says Tanya Marsh at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

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Articles (5)

Who will bury Charles Manson? The Conversation


While the cultural impact of Charles Manson’s life and horrific actions will not soon be forgotten, the pressing concern right now is how we’ll choose to acknowledge his death. More specifically, what will happen to his remains?

It’s a question that often comes up when a notorious criminal dies. Osama bin Laden, for example, was buried at sea, reportedly in part so that a grave wouldn’t become a shrine for terrorists.

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Life after death: Americans are embracing new ways to leave their remains The Conversation


That is changing. As a scholar of funeral and cemetery law, I’ve discovered that Americans are becoming more willing to have a conversation about their own mortality and what comes next and embrace new funeral and burial practices.

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When Death and Dirt Collide: Legal and Property Interests in Burial Places Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Journal


Burial places are real property, but they are a special kind of real property. Thus, while the law with respect to land perpetually dedicated to the disposition of human remains is rooted in the general common law of property, there are unique doctrines that apply only to burial places.

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A New Lease on Death Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Journal


Changes in the American funeral industry have sparked a new category of land use — a business where funeral goods and services are sold, but human remains are not embalmed, stored, or displayed.

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Reforming the Regulation of Community Banks After Dodd-Frank Indiana Law Journal


The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act builds on decades of “one-size-fits-all” regulation of financial institutions, an ill-conceived regulatory strategy that puts community banks at a
competitive disadvantage as compared with their larger, more complex competitors.

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