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]." .
References & Resources
- LakeSide Funeral Home: Cemetery Questions
- Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight:Frequently Asked Questions
- Virtual Underwriter:Deeds of Conveyance
- New York Departement of State- Division of Cemeteries: Application for Approval to Transfer Cemetery Lot
- New York Departement of State- Division of Cemeteries: Application Instructions for Cemetery Lot Transfer
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