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 whos is next of kin? 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
  • Flags
  • Fences
  • Coins
  • Vase
  • Stuffed Animal
  • Frames

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.

Recent Posts