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How to Transfer Ownership of a Cemetery Plot
Thoughts of your eternal resting place might seem needlessly ghoulish, and transferring ownership of a cemetery plot to a family member might feel downright cruel. But death awaits us all, like it or not, and a population explosion coupled with inadequate space means we’re facing an international cemetery plot shortage. Cemetery plots are big business, and transferring ownership can be a significant gift, ensuring that the recipient has a secure eternal resting place.
The process of buying a cemetery plot is usually fairly straightforward, since cemetery plots are essentially pieces of real estate. Transferring the plot, though, can require a bit of finesse, since failing to properly transfer the plot might mean that the recipient has no place to be buried when the time comes.
Why Buying and Transferring Cemetery Plots is Different
Everyone who plans to be buried will eventually need a cemetery plot. For this reason, most states treat cemetery plots a bit differently from other forms of real estate, limiting the circumstances under which they can be bought or sold, controlling who can buy or sell the plots, or establishing protocols to ensure people have equal access to particularly desirable plots. For example, it’s common to purchase a plot in a specific row, rather than being able to seek out the specific individual plot of your choice.
Indeed, most states require that some portion of the cemetery plot’s price go to the maintenance and perpetual care of the cemetery and the plots contained therein. For this reason, the process of transferring ownership can be cumbersome. It’s a good idea to begin the process well before the person to whom you are transferring the plot needs it. And don’t forget to explore your own burial options, since the cemetery plot shortage means that transferring your plot to someone else could leave you without a plot of your own!
The Basic Transfer Process
One of the greatest challenges of buying, selling, and transferring cemetery plot ownership is that state and local laws vary so greatly. At some cemeteries, transferring ownership is a simple matter of finding a buyer and filing the right paperwork. At others, cemetery plot transfer is a government matter that requires approval of a government agency. For this reason, before you transfer your plot, you’ll need to review the following documents:
- The contract with the cemetery itself, which may outline the specific situations when you can transfer ownership of the plot.
- State and local ordinances governing cemetery plot transfers.
- Any contracts you have with another party, including contracts to sell or transfer the plot in return for services or other valuable goods.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve already accepted money for the plot, promised it to a family member, or even begun the process of transferring ownership. Without following the contract with the cemetery and your local and state laws, you may not be able to complete the sale.
Even something as seemingly trivial as buying a cemetery plot in a specific county or city can affect the sale process. In Newnan, Georgia, for instance, you can transfer a cemetery in a will. But outside of a legally valid will, you cannot sell or transfer ownership to another party without the permission of the City Manager. Additionally, would-be sellers must seek permission via a Cemetery Lot Transfer Form completed and submitted along with the deed transfer. Because the process varies so much and can be quite cumbersome, consider talking to a lawyer before transferring your plot.
The Role of Cemetery Management
Owning the deed to a cemetery plot does not make you the owner. Instead, it simply gives you a right to use the plot. In most cases, the cemetery management company remains the owner of the plot itself, so reviewing the company’s rules and regulations is critically important.
In most states, you can transfer ownership of a cemetery plot to a family member in your will. But if you intend to sell the plot, that may be another matter entirely. For instance, in New York, cemetery plot transfers are overseen by the Division of Cemeteries. The Division requires that owners offer the plot to the cemetery corporation first, at the price originally paid plus four percent simple interest from the date first purchased. Only if the cemetery corporation declines to buy the plot can you then transfer ownership to another party. And even then, you’ll need to seek the permission and approval of the Division of Cemeteries prior to commencing with the transfer.
When you opt to sell your cemetery plot, talk to the management of the cemetery first. A handful of cemeteries, particularly those owned by religious organizations, fall outside of state and local laws, and may establish their own procedures for buying, selling, and transferring land. Your contract may further stipulate that you must consult with the management company prior to transferring the plot. And, of course, notifying the management company of the transfer helps you iron out any problems before they become so severe they delay a burial.
Using the Right Deed
Because cemetery management companies are the rightful owners of cemetery plots, you’ll need to verify both that the ownership paperwork is legally valid, and that the cemetery management company will allow ownership to be transferred. This usually requires nothing more than a simple phone call, but your county clerk can verify for you whether or not the deed has been filed.
After you verify the deed and the right to transfer ownership, you will need to file paperwork in your county clerk’s office changing the owner’s name on the cemetery plot deed. This is a simple matter of altering the current ownership papers, and is often the least cumbersome part of the ownership transfer process. The transfer will not be complete until the paperwork is filed with the county clerk, and you have received permission from any regulatory body overseeing the plot.
How to Transfer Ownership of Cemetery Plot
Transferring Ownership of a Burial Plot
Why do people transfer cemetery ownership , what about transferring when the owner is deceased, 1. the deceased owner has a legitimate will, 2. the deceased owner has a letter of administration, 3. there is no legal will or letter of administration, what could the process of transferring cemetery ownership look like, to generalize, the transfer process could look something like this:, here are some tips on transferring cemetery property: , what can the transfer look like, what important details should be included in your documents and letters .
- Legal name and registered information of the owner and the purchaser
- The agreed upon transfer date and amount paid by the buyer
- Declaration that ALL rights are being transferred to the new owner
- Description of the plot and the rules governing it
- Declaration that the transfer is approved and within the rules of the state and the cemetery or religious organization
Finalizing the Transfer of Cemetery Plot Ownership
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How to Write a Letter Deeding Over a Cemetery Plot
By Shannon Johnson
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Cemetery plots are transferred as you would any other piece of land: via a deed or letter of conveyance. If you ever want to transfer your property to another person, there are certain requirements you must meet, such as notifying the cemetery and filing an application to transfer your plot. Make sure to be aware of the specific requirements of your jurisdiction -- you may need to write a letter, but by itself, it may not be enough to deed over the plot.
Ownership of Lot
When you purchase a cemetery plot, you have purchased only a license or a right to use the land. These rights include the right to transfer, the right to burial, the right to put up a headstone, and the right to vote at lot owner meetings. The cemetery retains all land ownership. Your letter of conveyance will need to specifically state the rights above and that they are being transferred to the new purchaser. The best way to do this is to find the letter of conveyance or deed you received, and use the same property or lot description, and the description of rights reflected there.
Compliance With Cemetery Rules and Regulations
Your letter of conveyance should state that the purchaser is subject to cemetery rules and regulations. In addition, it is a good idea to include in the letter of conveyance that the sale is based upon a notice of ratification of sale by the cemetery. Every cemetery has a set of rules and regulations that govern the relationship between the lot owners and cemetery. Any transfer of lot ownership must be done with strict compliance with the rules, which usually require that you notify them of your intent to sell and offer them the right to purchase the lot. This notification should be done in writing. If the cemetery does not want to purchase the lot, they will typically send you a notice allowing the sale.
Compliance With State Laws
Each state has a department that regulates cemeteries. For example, Maryland's cemetery regulation department is referred to as the Office of Cemetery Oversight. In New York, it is the Department of State, Division of Cemeteries. If the cemetery turns down the right to purchase the lot, you typically need to take the notice the cemetery sent you to your state's cemetery department and request an application to transfer cemetery property. No fee is associated with the application, but it must typically be notarized. Once it is approved, you and the cemetery will be notified. At this point you are ready to write your letter of conveyance.
Information to Include in the Letter
Certain key information must be included in the letter for a transfer of the lot to be considered valid: the purchase price, your name, and the purchaser's name. In addition, you must include the date of the sale, the amount of money paid, and information that identifies the plot, including the number and a legal description if available.
For example, you might include language similar to the following: “ I, [your name], do hereby grant and convey to [purchaser's name] the cemetery plot located at [the name of the cemetery, address of the cemetery, plot number, any other identification information]. In consideration therefore, [purchaser's name] has paid the following sum: [amount paid]. Purchaser shall forever have the following rights [rights included in your current deed or letter of conveyance]. This sale has been ratified by the cemetery and has been approved by the [name of state cemetery division]." .
- Virtual Underwriter:Deeds of Conveyance
Shannon Johnson graduated from Mercer University School of Law in 2000. She practiced law for five years before beginning her writing career. She currently writes for several legal and non-legal online publications. Johnson has also taught legal research and writing, music business law and entertainment law.
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- basic laws pertaining cemeteries
The Basic Laws Pertaining to Cemeteries
Americans have a hard time dealing with dying and death and often only deal with estate planning , elder care planning and selection of funeral arrangements when they have no choice, e.g. when death is imminent or already has occurred. The result can be both frustrating and expensive as people are required to make significant economic decisions when emotionally distraught and those decisions can result in tension within the family and long term economic commitments.
Too often this writer has seen families with few resources end up spending tens of thousands of dollars for funeral or cemetery arrangements when the deceased would have protested loudly at the “waste” and no one really determined what alternatives were available. No one in the family wants to be the one to object to the cost with the rest of the family looking on and the professionals in the field, many of whom are well meaning, are certainly not going to suggest less expensive alternatives.
Selecting cemeteries, indeed, knowing how they work and are regulated, is another area few people wish to confront, but the wise family will understand both the commitment and the legal protections inherent in utilizing the services of a cemetery.
It is not only expense. Occasionally, scandalous information comes out as to failure to bury the right person in the right plot or, even worse, selling the same plot over and over, the bodies literally piled upon each other. Is that merely breach of contract? Is it a violation of the law? This article discusses those issues and more.
A cemetery is a place where dead bodies and cremated remains are buried. It is a locale set aside, either by governmental authority or private enterprise. A public cemetery is open for use by the community at large while a private cemetery is used only by a small segment of a community or by a family.
Cemeteries can be the place where the final ceremonies of death are observed. These ceremonies or rites differ according to cultural practice and religious belief. The establishment of a cemetery involves the process of formally designating a tract of land for use for the burial of the dead. It must be set apart, marked, and distinguished from adjoining ground as a graveyard.
A cemetery is not only subject to the laws of ordinary property due to their inherently different nature. Most states have established rigorous laws that specifically apply to cemeteries. Private interests in the place of burial are subject to the control of public authorities, which have the right to require the disinterment of bodies if deemed necessary.
A columbarium is a building containing niches in which urns containing the ashes of the deceased after cremation are placed.
The law contemplates generally two categories of cemeteries, public and private . A public cemetery is one used by the general community, a neighborhood, or a church, while a private cemetery is one used only by a family or a small portion of the community. However, actual public use rather than ownership determines whether a cemetery is public. Thus, a cemetery, though privately owned or maintained, may be deemed a public cemetery if it is open, under reasonable regulations, to the use of the public for the burial of the dead. A cemetery, though privately owned, is properly classified as a “public cemetery” where it consists of a great number of burial plots or sites sold and for sale to the public. Conversely, a family burying ground has been defined by statute as one in which no lots are sold to the public and in which interments are restricted to a group of persons related to each other by blood or marriage.
Note that a municipal corporation may hold property in trust for a public burial ground or in a private or proprietary character as a private corporation. The Federal government provides burial locales for military and other selected federal personnel.
In Garland v. Clark , 264 Ala. 402, 405-406 (Ala. 1956), the court held that for a place to be called a public cemetery, “…the intention of the owner of the land to dedicate it for a public cemetery, together with the acceptance and use of the same by the public, or the consent and acquiescence of the owner in the long-continued use of his lands for such purpose, are sufficient.”
Cemeteries are normally regulated on the State level.
There are normally statutory provisions which apply to privately operated cemeteries. For instance, Section 5 of the Act of 1903, Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 21, para. 39 (1951), provides that when a cemetery is a privately operated cemetery, as defined in § 2 of the Cemetery Care Act, Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 21, para. 64.1 et seq. (1951), enacted by the Sixty-fifth General Assembly, then such a cemetery association shall also comply with the provisions of the Cemetery Care Act. See Union Cemetery Ass’n v. Cooper , 414 Ill. 23 (Ill. 1953).
The Cemetery Care Act enacted in that state provides that these cemeteries are required to secure a license from the Auditor of Public Accounts before acquiring care funds. In order to secure such a license, detailed information as to personnel and finances must be given and the license may be refused if certain specified conditions are not met. A privately operated and licensed cemetery must file an annual report with respect to its care funds. This report must show the income to and disbursements from the fund and list the securities in which the fund is invested. The books of such cemeteries must be open at all times to inspection. In the administration of care funds, privately operated cemeteries are subject to examination, supervision, and regulation by the Auditor who may, upon certain conditions, revoke the license to handle care funds either temporarily or permanently. Before accepting care funds in connection with the sale of a burial space, a private authority must specify in writing the nature and extent of the care to be furnished, for which it must require the deposit of a given amount based upon the sale price or the size of the burial space. Except where excused by the act, these private associations are required to post a bond to insure the proper handling of care funds. Other states have similar laws.
A state may regulate the location of cemeteries through the exercise of its police power by statute directly regulating the location of cemeteries. In California, see Laurel Hill Cemetery v. San Francisco , 216 U.S. 358 (U.S. 1910). Such police power may be delegated to and exercised by political subdivisions or subordinate public corporations of the state, including municipal corporations or health authorities. See Seale v. Masonic Cemetery Asso ., 217 Cal. 286 (Cal. 1933).
With respect to governmental regulation of the location of cemeteries, aesthetic, health and property value considerations are of importance. Put simply having a cemetery next door can radically reduce the value of property since many buyers do not want to live next to cemetery. Often, the right to prohibit or limit the location of cemeteries within a certain district or area rests on the proposition that a burial within such district would be injurious to the public health. Some additional reasons for exercising the police power regarding the regulation of cemetery locations are:
- the public welfare in general.
- whether the establishment of a cemetery might disarrange the location of streets and highways and adversely affect civic enterprise.
- the prosperity of the community.
- the adequacy of existing cemetery facilities within a county.
- the character of the community in general. See Laurel Hill Cemetery v. San Francisco , 152 Cal. 464 (Cal. 1907); Alosi v. Jones , 234 Ala. 391 (Ala. 1937); Scovill v. McMahon , 62 Conn. 378 (Conn. 1892); Gordon v. Commissioners of Montgomery County , 164 Md. 210 (Md. 1933).
The right to prohibit or limit the location of cemeteries within a certain district or area often is claimed to rest on the proposition that a burial within such a district would be injurious to the public health. The regulations prohibiting the creation of new cemeteries or the interment of human bodies in established cemeteries located within a densely populated city area are generally valid, if they do not operate unreasonably or arbitrarily. However, similar regulations in sparsely settled localities have been held or recognized to be invalid, where it was not shown that the burials were calculated to impair the public health through their close proximity to housing. The permission to establish a cemetery cannot be made dependent on the arbitrary will of the officers or governing body of that particular place. The principles upon which a decision is to be made must be clearly established.
Regulations as to the location of cemeteries are valid if they do not constitute an impairment of the obligation of contract , do not constitute a violation of the constitutional guaranties of due process or equal protection of the laws, or against the taking of private property for public use without just compensation, or constitute improper delegation of authority.
Abandonment of Cemetery: Legal Effect
A property which has been dedicated or used for cemetery purposes may be abandoned so far as such purposes are concerned, apart from any rights of interested parties to have a cemetery continued as such. See Mayes v. Simons , 189 Ga. 845 (Ga. 1940). The question of abandonment can be inferred from the acts or recitals of the parties, interpreted in the light of all the surrounding circumstances. However, a cemetery is not abandoned as long as it is kept and preserved as a resting place for the dead with anything to indicate the existence of graves, or as long as it is known and recognized by the public as a graveyard. The fact that for some years no new interments have been made and that the graves have been neglected does not operate as an abandonment and authorize the desecration of the graves, where the bodies interred in a cemetery remain therein and the spot awakens sacred memories in living persons. See Dangerfield v. Williams , 26 App. D.C. 508 (D.C. Cir. 1906).
Matters going to the question of abandonment are:
- the actual condition of the cemetery,
- whether the identity of the cemetery has in fact been destroyed, and
- whether the cemetery is recognizable and known to the general public.
Where the family has ceased to visit the cemetery and they have so long neglected to care for it that the ground is no longer recognizable as a cemetery, the family burial ground has been abandoned. Merely because further interments in a cemetery become impossible, it does not lose its character.
However, a private cemetery may be considered abandoned, where through changed conditions or the passage and ravages of time, its identity is destroyed. Tracy v. Bittle , 213 Mo. 302 (Mo. 1908)
This issue can become critical for developers who wish to use the land for new purposes and confront the question as to whether they have the right to alter its use despite its past status.
There is a presumption in favor of leaving the cemetery undisturbed on an application for cemetery relocation. The governing authority must balance the applicants’ interest in disinterment with the public’s and the descendants’ interest in the value of the undisturbed cultural and natural environment. See Hughes v. Cobb County , 264 Ga. 128 (Ga. 1994).
By the claim of a burial lot owner that he/she has a freehold interest in the lot, a cemetery owner will not necessarily be prevented from abandoning its cemetery and from removing the remains of deceased persons buried therein. Petition of First Trinity Evangelical Luthern Church, 214 Pa. Super. 185 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1969). To preserve the cultural heritage of the county and the cemetery, evidence of a lack of maintenance and inappropriate surroundings will support the relocation of a cemetery site.
The right to occupy land with a cemetery and maintained as such is subject to the reasonable exercise of the police power. However, where land becomes no longer suitable for the cemetery use to which it was dedicated because of the surrounding circumstances or changed conditions, the discontinuance of such use may be required by the legislature or a municipality. As a good example, in large cities it becomes necessary to prohibit further interments in certain cemeteries on account of their menace to the public health and also to require the removal of the bodies interred therein. In the abolishment of cemeteries, the legislature has the same power as it has in their establishment. Whenever it becomes necessary, the legislature may by statute direct the discontinuance of a cemetery and the removal of the bodies. It may delegate its power to a municipality, which may enact an ordinance to effect the same result. See Masonic Cemetery Ass’n v. Gamage , 38 F.2d 950 (9th Cir. Cal. 1930).
In this regard, the police power must not be exercised arbitrarily or unreasonably. Where there is a public necessity for the discontinuance, the power to require the discontinuance of the use of a cemetery, necessarily includes the power to determine whether such public necessity exists. The determination of the legislature is conclusive upon the courts.
When the use is terminated and the cemetery abandoned, there is a reverter to the original donors or their legal representatives, free of such use. This rule applies to both statutory and common-law dedications. Reinterments in land that have once been definitely abandoned as a cemetery do not have the effect of preventing a reverter. However, a different situation exists where there is an actual conveyance of lands. In such situations, whether the land reverts to the grantor on the abandonment of the cemetery depends on whether the conveyance was absolute. If so, there is no right of reverter or it constituted a conveyance on condition that the use of the premises for a cemetery be continued. Thereafter, the grantor or one succeeding to his/her rights is revested with title on a breach of the condition.
All this necessarily means that the average family confronting the issue of the permanence of their loved one remaining in the plot face the question of what rights they really have.
Rights to Lots and Vaults
A cemetery lot owner’s rights are contractual and subject to the ordinary rules of contract law. In nearly all jurisdictions, one who purchases and has conveyed to him/her a lot in a public cemetery does not acquire the fee to the soil. He/she acquires only a right of burial therein which has been variously designated as an easement or as a license or privilege. Ebenezer Baptist Church, Inc. v. White , 513 So. 2d 1011 (Ala. 1987).
Put simply, this means you do not own the land or have ownership rights of any type to any particular land. Instead, you have an easement or license to use the land for the purpose of keeping your loved one’s remains there.
It often can only be extinguished by abandonment. When a lot is purchased, the rights of the purchaser are expressed or deemed to be subject to the charter and the rules and regulations or bylaws of a cemetery association or corporation company. However, the rules and regulations adopted by the cemetery proprietor must be uniform and reasonable. If regulations are unreasonable, a person’s agreement to be bound by the rules and regulations is ineffectual. See Hollywood Cemetery Asso. v. Powell , 210 Cal. 121 (Cal. 1930).
To confer an exclusive right to use a cemetery lot, a formal deed is not necessary. Provided the prescriptive holders use the cemetery lot exclusively, continuously, and uninterruptedly, with the actual or presumptive knowledge of the owner, an easement can even be acquired by adverse possession . A cemetery lot may be held by two or more persons in common. Provided there is burial space still available, co-tenants of a burial lot hold it with the right to be buried therein in the order in which they die. The consent of the other co-owners to the burial of their co-tenant therein is not necessary.
Although it is recognized that a stranger to the tenancy may not, as a matter of right, be buried in a lot without the consent of all the co-tenants, where an interment has been made, the courts are reluctant to order the removal of the body. Usually, a burial lot cannot be made subject to partition after bodies have been interred therein as a public policy rule. Locke v. Locke , 291 Ala. 344 (Ala. 1973)
In some jurisdictions, after an interment is made in a burial lot held by an individual owner, the lot becomes inalienable, except by specific devise, or as provided by statute. Moreover, the rules of the company may provide against alienation or subdivision, or there may be an express provision in a conveyance of a cemetery lot to the effect that it may not be transferred except with the consent of the cemetery company. However, an owner may alienate or transfer his/her rights in a cemetery lot prior to any interment therein, in the absence of any regulations, statutes, or other restrictions to the contrary. In the absence of an assignment of sites by the purchaser of a family cemetery plot before death, the lineal descendants of the deceased purchaser have an easement in the unused sites in ground dedicated to family burials. Fraser v. Tenney , 987 S.W.2d 796 (Ky. Ct. App. 1998)
Since the right of the owner of a burial lot has been designated as an easement or license, in the absence of statutory restrictions or contractual conditions to the contrary, the right is one which is devisable and inheritable. The right to devise a burial lot may be limited by statutory provisions restricting the right of alienation and providing for the descent of the lot, upon the death of the proprietor, to his/her heirs at law. A burial lot not specifically devised does not pass under a general or residuary devise, absent a statute. It passes to the heirs at law of the testator as if the testator had died intestate. If the result would be the disruption of the character of the lot as a family burial plot, the lot can be deemed not to pass by will. Robertson v. Mt. Olivet Cemetery Co., 116 Tenn. 221 (Tenn. 1906).
Where a lot is not devised, the heir takes such property right impressed with and subject to the use to which the ancestor devoted it in his/her lifetime, although the title descends to the heirs at law, each of whom takes an undivided interest and the right of sepulture therein. Thus, the heir takes subject to a trust for the benefit of the family.
A burial lot in which bodies have been interred cannot be subject to a mortgage. Moreover, an equitable lien will not be established against such a lot for the cost of materials used in improving it. In some jurisdictions, burial lots are exempt from execution or attachment by statute. United Cemeteries Co. v. Strother , 332 Mo. 971 (Mo. 1933)
Conclusion and Practicalities
Pouring through a contract relating to rights or reading the By Laws of the Cemetery Association are usually not what a grieving family wishes to do. But it is vital to note that one is not “buying land” with inalienable rights when one obtains a lot or vault. The contract and the bylaws do delineate the rights and the ability of the cemetery to be altered, to close, or to move one’s loved one.
This is not inherently unreasonable. Society changes, land use changes, families move away, needs change. Virtually every major city had many cemeteries on their outskirts that are now, due to the growth of cities, downtown, and with few exceptions, the land is needed for development and the cemeteries end up being moved.
As the population grows and land becomes increasingly scarce near cities, one can expect this process to repeat and it is unlikely in the extreme that the cemetery plot you select today will be in existence in two hundred years.
This is difficult for most people and families to confront. We all like to think that the cemetery is forever, that in a thousand years our relatives can still visit the plot, that the deceased will sleep here forever.
In practical terms, it means read the cemetery documents…all of them…and that includes understanding what rights they have to relocate, close the cemetery, etc. Find out precisely what you are buying before you buy it and if you are too upset at the time to do that, find a friend or professional to do it for you.
Many of our clients elect burial of ashes at sea precisely to avoid this entire issue. When asked how they will visit the grave, one client stated, “Every time I look at the sunset and watch the waves, I am visiting the grave. That’s what Dad would have loved in any event.”
Founded in 1939, our law firm combines the ability to represent clients in domestic or international matters with the personal interaction with clients that is traditional to a long established law firm.
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Burial Rights – Who has the right and/or obligation to bury a deceased person?
by attorney-austin | Nov 13, 2009 | Estate Planning
| Burial Rights Who has the right and/or obligation to bury a deceased person? The family of the deceased has the duty to bury (or inter) as well as an obligation to pay the burial costs, unless there is a written pre-death directive or a prepaid funeral plan. This directive may be included in a will, and the funeral home is permitted to rely on such directive even though the will has not been admitted to probate. In the absence of a written directive, the surviving spouse has the responsibility and obligation to pay for burial costs. If there is no surviving spouse, the order of priority rests next with the adult children, parents, adult brothers and sisters, heirs at law, a guardian, the county of residence, one performing an inquest, and finally with anyone willing to assume responsibility and liability for the decedent’s remains and the costs of burial. When the decedent is indigent, it is necessary to notify the County Social Services Department within 24 hours of death. If this notice requirement is not timely met, the county will not pay any costs of the person’s burial. Must I make specific provisions if I wish to donate my body or specific organs following my death? The Texas Anatomical Gift Act permits anyone over the age of 18, or those under 18 with parental consent, to donate either his or her own body or specific organs. Donations can be shown on your driver’s license, in your will, or by another document. The donation agreement must be witnessed by two persons. If you want to make a specific-purpose gift to a certain organization, it is important that you check in advance to see if your donation will be accepted. If I should die without making an anatomical gift, can one still be made? The Texas Anatomical Gift Act does allow family members to donate a decedent’s body or other acceptable organs. This authority to donate rests first with the surviving spouse and then, in order of priority, with the adult children, parents, brothers and sisters, a guardian, or any other person authorized to dispose of the body. If I desire to be cremated how should this directive be handled? You may provide written directions for cremation or other disposition of your body by will, a prepaid funeral contract, or a written, signed and acknowledged instrument. You should then appoint a person as your agent to faithfully carry out your instructions. A form for such an appointment appears in chapter 711 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, available at your local law library. Where can I obtain information describing burial services and costs? State law requires funeral home operators to provide a list of retail prices for a person to keep, along with a brochure published by the state. Funeral home operators must also explain that a contract may not be signed before the retail price list is provided. You may also telephone a funeral home operator and be given general price information within a reasonable amount of time Can I make funeral arrangements before I die? Yes. You may make necessary burial arrangements before they are needed. Several methods are available to set aside the money needed to pay for these services. Many funeral homes provide pre-need burial programs. These programs may be established after the burial services have been selected and may be funded by insurance or annuity payments. The type of plan, as well as the services to be provided, can be selected at a less stressful time and with more consideration being paid to the cost and needs of the individual. The Banking Department of Texas has established a state fund to help protect your investment of pre-needed funeral expenses. What type of death benefits are available to my survivors? If you are a veteran of the military, both your surviving spouse and your children may be entitled to veterans benefits. Specific information can be obtained from your regional veterans affairs office. In addition to monetary benefits, the family of a veteran may also be entitled to a flag, burial in a national cemetery, transportation of the body to the cemetery, and a headstone or marker. Social security death benefits may also be available to a surviving spouse, a minor child if there is no surviving spouse, or a surviving parent if there is no surviving spouse or child eligible. Only the eligible person may make an application to the local social security office. The Texas legislature has provided benefits to its citizens under the Texas Criminal Victim’s Compensation Act. Specific applications must be completed in a timely manner when a criminal report has been made.
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Grave Ownership Rights
How long do you have ownership over a grave?
Contrary to what many believe, graves are not eternally preserved in their current locations. According to the documentation, European people began reusing and repurposing ancient burial mounds as early as the very first centuries. Even in ancient times, it was standard practice to inter numerous individuals in one plot; thus, it is safe to assume that the practice of reusing graves is nothing new.
When you buy a grave in most cemeteries, you will also purchase the exclusive right to bury the deceased person in that grave. This arrangement will be on a leasehold arrangement, with the first term being thirty years.
This may be extended for additional five years for a total of an extra thirty years if renewed. This grants the owner the right to be buried inside that grave within that time, in addition to granting permission for anybody else to be buried there if there is still space available.
According to the guidelines of some cemeteries, they are in charge of the maintenance of the land. Additionally, approval from the owner is required before any kind of monument may be erected in that cemetery.
Proof of ownership of a gravesite
The issuance of a Grave deed may establish title to a cemetery site. This guarantees a dignified burial at a predetermined location. You will get a deed if you buy a burial site from a religious institution or a state-run cemetery. Learn more about these deeds in this post.
The owner or the owner’s executors or administrators may transfer the Grave Deed to another person in the event of the owner’s death. Still, the transfer is not official until it is recorded at the cemetery office, where you can find information and paperwork for making the transfer.
Title to a cemetery plot goes from its registered owner to his or her heirs or, in the absence of either, to the next of kin. ( Not sure wh o s i s n e x t o f k i n ? Find out in this post. ) Only the person whose name appears on the Deed of Grant as the registered grave owner may authorize grave-related activities such as reopening the grave for further burials, constructing a permanent monument, and carving inscriptions.
How to transfer grave ownership?
The typical ownership transfer requires two to three hours of staff time. It is also the responsibility of the staff to maintain and update the database and registrations of deceased individuals.
The representative of the person who has passed away is the one who is responsible for finding out who the actual owner is and then completing a Deed of Assent. If there is no valid will for the dead individual, ownership of the burial might be passed to a personal representative of the deceased person who is described in the letters of administration.
Before a burial may be used again or a monument erected for it, the ownership of the grave must often be transferred from the living or dead owner to another person. This is required before the tomb can be utilized. When transferring ownership, the procedure might differ based on the circumstances, and there is often a cost involved.
If the grave is no longer required, the owner of the exclusive right to burial may give up that right by executing a Deed of Surrender. The value of the surrender is equal to one-third of the current purchase price, as stated on the forms.
Only the portion of the lease that has not yet expired is included in any transfer of the Exclusive Rights of Burial that may occur. By signing a Deed of Assignment, the current owner of a grave may transfer their ownership rights to another person while they are still living.
Grave ownership laws
Two types of grave ownership are recognized by law: public and private. A private cemetery is solely used by one family or group of people, whereas a public cemetery is used by the whole community, a neighborhood, or a church. However, whether or not a cemetery is considered public depends on its actual usage by the public, rather than who owns the land.
The term “public cemetery” is used to describe a privately owned cemetery that offers many burial plots or sites for sale to the general public. A graveyard may be considered a public cemetery even if it is privately owned or managed so long as it is accessible to the general public for the burial of the deceased subject to reasonable limitations.
What are the exclusive rights of burial?
A formal deed is unnecessary to provide exclusive use of cemetery grounds property. Two or more people may hold a cemetery plot in common. If there is still room in the cemetery, the co-tenants of a burial lot have the right to be buried there in the order of their deaths. You don’t need permission from the other co-owners to bury your co-tenant in the shared space.
In certain cases, an easement may be gained by adverse possession if the prescriptive holders have used the cemetery lot in question solely, consistently, and uninterruptedly over time, with the owner’s knowledge, either express or implied.
As a matter of national policy, a cemetery plot cannot be divided up after corpses have been buried there. Although it is established law that a stranger to the tenancy has no legal right to be buried in a lot without the approval of all the co-tenants, when an interment has been made, the courts are hesitant to compel the removal of the corpse.
What can I put on a grave instead of flowers?
Families should not decorate with anything they would want to preserve if it were removed for safety or maintenance reasons. Besides the law, the weather is a factor that should be considered while deciding what kind of decorations to place on a tomb. Avoid using ornaments that might be ruined by the weather (such as paper or fabric)
Here are some things you can put aside from flowers:
- Decorated stones
- Stuffed Animal
The best action is to double-check with the cemetery administration before making final arrangements on the decor you want to put. Likewise, they should be able to fill you in on the ins and outs of their upkeep policies and any restrictions placed on seasonal decorations.
Also, think about if the decorations have any emotional meaning, how the weather could play a role, and whether there will be other visitors to the cemetery. For more ideas of what you can leave at a gravesite, read our What is a Grave post.
What happens if I have flowers delivered to a cemetery?
Your vendor has committed to sending you a picture of the flowers at the burial of your loved one after they have been delivered. This may be done once, regularly, or at certain times of year, such as for Mother’s Day, birthdays, engagements, or Christmas. While some vendors accept anytime orders.
The florist making the delivery might give you advice on what will be most fitting for the crematorium or the deceased’s faith and family’s preference. Only close relatives are permitted to place casket sprays or other flowers inside the casket as a last tribute to a deceased family member. We wrote more about funeral flowers in this post.
What is the best Styrofoam to use on silk cemetery flowers?
Because it is manufactured to retain water for extended periods, wet floral foam is the kind of floral foam that is most suited for use while dealing with flowers. You may begin by using a form already cut out for you or one you have cut out yourself.
The fresh flowers will keep their moisture for seven to ten days after being cut. Keep adding water to the container regularly to maintain the foam’s moisture level. After soaking the floral foam in water until it is completely saturated, you can either place it in a watertight container of your choice or use it in its natural state. At this point, you may begin to decorate it with cut flowers.
What is an excellent plant to put on a grave?
Daffodils, snowdrops, lilies, and other bulbs that bloom in the spring and summer, as well as hardy perennials like salvia, are well-behaved plants that can withstand the weather are the best greeneries you can put.
To improve upon this, consider opting for annual flowers and plants instead. Since they perish in the autumn freeze, the invasive problem should be solved almost entirely. In addition, the style may be updated annually or seasonally by using the deceased’s preferred plants.
Annual ornamental grasses like rubrum and the pine-scented, needle-like herb rosemary representing recollection are great options for creating a different touch.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we may receive compensation at no additional cost to you.
Readinform is a Wisconsin based writer for funerals explained. They have come to understand the struggles of death and loss. Through life experience they have gathered the knowledge to help others and answer questions related to the funeral industry. When not writing readyinform focuses on learning new things and exploring the differences society offers.
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Transfer of Ownership of Exclusive Right of Burial
Effecting a legally sound transfer of ownership is vitally important in order to protect your authority or company. It is imperative that you only allow a transfer of ownership to take place to the person or persons who are ENTITLED.
A transfer can be legally effected on the production of a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. If one or the other of these legal documents have not been issued a Statutory Declaration made by the lawful next of kin must be completed.
Did the owner leave a Will or were Letters of Administration issued? Use a search facility here .
Who is entitled to take over grave ownership? Find out about who inherits if no will is left here .
President Ballard Remembered as a ‘Courageous Warrior for Truth’
Three apostles and two of his seven children honor president ballard for his devotion to jesus christ.
- Copied to Clipboard
At his funeral in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Friday, November 17, 2023, President M. Russell Ballard was remembered by friends and family as a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ and a man fervently focused on his family.
“It would be impossible to measure President Ballard’s impact for good during his sojourn in mortality,” said the First Presidency in a statement read by its First Counselor, President Dallin H. Oaks. “As a young missionary to Great Britain, as a mission president in Toronto and as a General Authority, he has traversed the globe many times, teaching and testifying of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. He has been a courageous warrior for truth!”
Downloadable B-roll & SOTs
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The First Presidency and others noted President Ballard’s nearly 50 years of dedicated full-time Church service, his leading role in creating the original version of “Preach My Gospel” and his gifts as a leader, unifier, problem solver, counselor and mentor.
“President Ballard and I sat beside one another in the meetings of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for almost 33 years,” President Oaks said. “President [Henry B.] Eyring knew President Ballard intimately for about 40 years. President Nelson knew President Ballard longer than either one of us! Each of us loved this man, we were inspired by his fervent testimony, we learned from his many great leadership qualities, and we were blessed by his influence throughout the Church.”
President Jeffrey R. Holland, President Ballard’s successor as leader of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said his association with President Ballard began in the fall of 1990. Elder Holland was a new General Authority Seventy in the Church’s Europe North Area and President Ballard was his first contact.
As he “wept” and “pled for peace and reassurance” that he would succeed in his assignment, Elder Holland said he heard a voice.
“Jeffrey, this is my work, not yours, so you rejoice in the arrangements I choose to make,” the voice said. “I deserved that,” Elder Holland said, “but then I heard the unbelievable: ‘Russell Ballard will be one of the best friends you will ever have in this world. You will enjoy his company and seek his counsel for the rest of your life.’”
“That brief, unforgettable, unexpected answer to prayer has been more than fulfilled in every detail a thousand times over — far more than I can possibly say this morning,” Elder Holland said.
President Ballard visited or called every day during President Holland’s recent five-week hospital stay.
“How do you thank a man for that?” President Holland said. “I have since tried to do so, in part with reciprocal visits and calls to him every day during the last two or three weeks of his life. And thanks to this remarkable family, I got to kiss his cheek for the last time just hours before he passed.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook, another colleague in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said it was a joy to join President Ballard and President Holland on a journey two years ago to the British Isles . (Elders Holland and Cook served together in British Mission — the same mission President Ballard was in 12 years earlier.) Elder Cook said his time preparing both versions of “Preach My Gospel” (2004 and 2023 ) with President Ballard was “one of the highlights of my life.”
“President M. Russell Ballard was a mentor to each of us in the Quorum and many, many others,” Elder Cook said. “He was a warm bridge builder with a great sense of humor and was kind to everyone. He was wise and tried to keep things simple. He was inclusive and invited everyone into his circle. He exhibited great character and integrity in every aspect of his life. His personal testimony of the Savior was strong and unwavering. I am eternally grateful to have been blessed by the power of his testimony.”
Two of President Ballard’s seven children also spoke. Son Craig said President Ballard was serving others until his final hours.
“Two days before he passed, he was convinced he was going into the office on Monday,” Craig said. “The last blessing he gave was to someone when he was a patient in the hospital. That’s just who he was.”
“Before he passed away, he would often tell us, ‘I still have a few things to do,’” added Holly Clayton, a daughter.
“Dad moved our souls,” Craig said. “He taught us how to live and share the gospel of Jesus Christ through his 88 general conference talks and countless other sermons. My dad didn’t just preach the word, he lived it every day. He really loved people around the world and helped them progress wherever they were along the covenant path.
That was especially true in his role as a father. Another of the many blessings he gave was to Holly a few years ago after she was diagnosed with cancer.
“Dad was devastated,” Holly said. “He called the family together to fast and pray for me. I was in a world of fear and uncertainty. When the evening of the blessing came, he laid his hands upon my head and offered up a sweet prayer, pleading with the Lord for a blessing of strength, peace and healing for me.”
President Ballard’s devotion to his family was shown in other important ways, Holly said. For example, when a daughter with a baby was about to drive back to San Diego from Utah alone (her husband was deployed in the Navy), he made sure she returned safely.
“When it came time to head back, Dad didn’t want her to drive home alone,” Holly said. “He was assigned to a stake conference that weekend, but He told her, ‘I found someone to take the conference and I am driving you home.’”
Holly said Barbara, her mother and President Ballard’s wife ( who died in 2018 ), was everything to him.
“He counted himself the luckiest man in the world to have won her heart,” Holly said. “He would consistently remind us that his best sales job was winning her over. Sometimes, in the last few years, he would even tease us that if mom was in heaven without him too long, she might find someone else she liked better! Mom has always been, and still is, his queen.”
“We aim to live up to the example of our father and our beautiful mother,” Holly concluded. “To each of his seven children and their spouses, Dad was always a father first and foremost, and each of his 43 grandchildren knew him best as their grandpa. …
“We love you, Daddy! Take Mama dancing!”
After the funeral, a private burial service took place at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Style Guide Note: When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide .
Apostles honor President Ballard, their late leader in the Quorum of the Twelve, in social posts
Elder ronald a. rasband and elder dale g. renlund posted tributes to president m. russell ballard on social media days after his funeral. see what they said and the photographs they included.
This article was first published in the ChurchBeat newsletter . Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Wednesday night.
Two apostles have posted social media tributes to President M. Russell Ballard days after the funeral for the man who had been their quorum leader in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Ballard died Nov. 12 while serving as the acting president of the quorum. He was responsible for giving assignments to the other 11 apostles in the quorum to travel the world to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and organize the church wherever they went.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband knew President Ballard long before they labored together in the Quorum of the Twelve.
In a post on Instagram and X on Tuesday, Elder Rasband said President Ballard was a mentor, friend and leader to him for most of his life. When Elder Rasband worked for the Huntsman Chemical Corp., President Ballard served on the company’s board of directors.
“It was in this association that he taught me the following,” Elder Rasband shared, “which I hope to never forget: ‘Ron, always let your word be your bond.’”
Similar lessons ensued, Elder Rasband said.
“Many times in my business career, President Ballard taught me the importance of being honest, truthful and having complete integrity in my work. These lessons became even more pronounced in my close associations with him in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles over the past eight years.”
Read the entire post here .
Decades ago, I learned a valuable lesson from our recently departed President M. Russell Ballard that has stuck with me to this day. Long before my full-time service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, M. Russell Ballard and I had many opportunities to associate… pic.twitter.com/RdsoKa1liH — Ronald A. Rasband (@RonaldARasband) November 21, 2023
Elder Dale G. Renlund also had served eight years in the quorum with President Ballard, who became the acting president of the quorum in January 2018 after President Thomas S. Monson died and President Russell M. Nelson, who had been the quorum president, became the new president of the church.
Elder Renlund said on Instagram and Facebook that President Ballard’s death “has left a hole in my heart. He was not just my acting quorum president for more than 5 ½ years, he was a fixture in church leadership for a major part of my life. I know that all is well with him and that a glorious reward awaits him, but I and many, many others will miss him dearly.”
He also shared parts of his last conversation with President Ballard on Nov. 1 before the Renlunds left for South America on an assignment from his quorum president.
President Ballard said he wasn’t feeling well, but then Elder Renlund said one of the cities he was visiting was Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“(He) became animated and told me about his grandfather (Elder Melvin J. Ballard) dedicating the lands of South America for the preaching of the gospel on Dec. 25, 1925.”
Remarkably, he said, “President Ballard cited most of the prayer from memory.”
Read the rest of the post here .
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Dale G. Renlund (@dalegrenlund)
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About the church
President Russell M. Nelson issued a personal invitation to all youth and young adults to attend seminary and institute. Watch the video invitation here . Over the last two years, institute enrollment has grown by more than 57,000 students. Between the ages of 18-30, 95% of church-attending young adults will also attend institute. Here’s a piece on what the increase in institute enrollment says about the strength of the rising generation .
President Nelson’s video was part of a young adult devotional hosted by Elder Quentin L. Cook and Sister Mary Cook. Elder Cook addressed five key concerns for young adult members .
The Nauvoo City Council approved plans for a new Nauvoo Temple Visitors’ Center .
Utah’s Giving Machines are open and ready for the 2023 holiday season.
The First Presidency announced the exact locations for temples in Mexico and Brazil and released a rendering of the Barcelona Spain Temple. Read about them here .
After attending President Ballard’s funeral with the rest of the Twelve, Elder Ulisses Soares spoke remotely to a Portuguese-language devotional .
What Travis Kelce, Tammy Reid and others have said about the Giving Machines in Kansas City .
Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé attended the annual Catholic Community Services of Utah Humanitarian Awards Dinner, according to iCatholic.org .
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Behind the scenes
I’m working on a piece about some Latter-day Saint history that will be heavy on historic photographs. I came across this photo of late church President Gordon B. Hinckley while doing research. It doesn’t fit that story, so I thought I’d share it here. It reminded me of his remarkable wit.
Gordon B. Hinckley, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, laughs as he answers questions during an interview on Nov. 23, 2005, in Salt Lake City. A third-generation Latter-day Saint, President Hinckley became the 15th president of the church in March 1995.
Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press