Although we say a person owns cemetery property, nobody owns the property except the person or corporation who owns the cemetery. In actuality, a person buys the rights to bury someone in a grave and that is how a cemetery deed is written.
This is an important distinction when preparing a will. Since your graves are not real property in the legal sense, they do not fall under normal lawyer speak of inclusion in a broad statement of “all my property goes to” when your will is prepared. In fact, the language used in a will is of utmost importance when it comes time to use the graves after the original purchaser dies.
When individual graves are not assigned prior to the death of the deed holder(s), the legal question arises when a need for a burial in one of the unused graves presents itself as to who has the right to be buried there. Sadly, oftentimes, the only solution then is to get a court order to have the burial take place. There are too many possibilities to include in a 300 word article, so please call your cemetery for clarification. To have to go get a court order right after a person dies is emotionally trying, and can be prevented.
To avoid problems after you are gone, ask your lawyer to include the following language in your will which eliminates any legal challenges in the future as to your intent for the use of the graves: I leave my cemetery property at (list name and address of your cemetery here) , section _____, lot _____, graves_____ to (and then designate a name, address etc. of that person or those who I want to have the graves).
If you have any questions, feel free to call 219-769-8803 for clarification. Visit us at calumetparkcemetery.com