Whether you are looking to buy cemetery property, or you are a cemetery looking to sell cemetery property, or you think you own cemetery property because you have a deed for some graves, all would be wrong. What people are actually buying are burial rights to a piece of land that is always owned by the cemetery. The deed that is issued is warranty deed for land that can be used for one specific purpose…a place of interment. In simple terms, you are buying the rights to bury the human remains or cremains of an individual in a specified location within a cemetery.
Although everyone talks about “cemetery property”, it is important to be aware of the semantics involved, especially when preparing your will. Many people come to a cemetery at the time of need with a copy of a will that says they get all of mom’s or dad’s personal possessions. The interment process is often delayed as we point out to presumptive heirs that a court order may be needed, depending on the language in the will, before a burial will be made. Simply stating that all my stuff goes to whomever, cemetery property needs to be flushed out. The will must include language that defines exactly the details of said property, or as mentioned above, burial rights. Language that says you get the cemetery property does not work as the will must state something to the effect of:
My cemetery property burial rights on Deed _______ at Calumet Park Cemetery,
Section ____, Block ____, Lot ____, Grave_____
must be defined and without such specifics, Calumet Park may require a court order to allow the use of the graves as the owner of the deed intended.
It would be best to have your will reviewed by a lawyer if you refer to cemetery property in it. A death has enough pain and fear of the unknown attached to it. It would certainly be to your advantage to have this piece of the final arrangement puzzle written into your will to eliminate the question of what the deceased truly wanted done with any unused graves upon their passing. When burial rights are not assigned before the death of the deed holder, the State of Indiana has some very specific laws as to who gets to be buried in them.
If you are not sure about what rights are attached to the purchase of grave space at Calumet Park Cemetery, feel free to bring your paperwork in (deeds, wills, power of attorney) for Daniel Moran, the General Manager of Calumet Park, to review and offer an opinion – free of charge. Or, call 219-769-8803 for help with any of your cemetery, funeral, or cremation questions.