The Plight of Burial Plots

Flowers placed on top of a tombstone.

Little known laws are the light of a litigator’s life.

Example: the law of cemetery plots.

The right to be buried in a certain plot is known as “the exclusive right of sepulture.” The right is usually conveyed to the person via a certificate of ownership, although that is not the only way it may be conveyed.

A plot may hold contain more than one grave, niche or crypt.

A cemetery plot isn’t treated like any other type of real or personal property. The plot is presumed to be the separate property of the person who is named as the grantee in the certificate.

That doesn’t mean the spouse of the grantee gives up all rights. To the contrary, the spouse has a vested right to have the spouse’s remains also interred in the plot. The vested right can only be terminated by a decree of divorce, or when the spouse’s remains are interred elsewhere.

What happens to the plot after the grantee dies? Unless the grantee has made a specific disposition of the plot by express reference in his will, or by a written declaration filed and recorded in the office of the cemetery organization in charge of the cemetery, the right to be interred is reserved to the surviving spouse and the grantee’s children.

The surviving spouse or the child may waive his or her right of interment in favor of the owner’s relative or a relative of the owner’s spouse.

Translated, that means you could end up buried next to your mother-in-law.

Another little-known law states that you can leave written and binding burial directions regarding the inscription to be placed on your grave marker. Your designated burial agent must “faithfully” carry out your directions. That opens up a whole lot of possibilities, doesn’t it?

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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.