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Cemetery/Burial on my property and deeds

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Question
I want to be buried with my husband and my in laws (whom are not deceased yet) on our own private property. My question is whether or not this can be done? I also wanted to know if I have it deeded that there is a family plot there, does the property have to be paid for already before this can be done, at this time it isn't paid for but want to plan ahead for all of this before that time comes. We are in SC.

Answer
HI Laura,

To your questions:

1) Can you be buried on your own private property in South Carolina? This is completely up to the State AND the County/City you live in because it falls under your local land-use laws. Many cities don't permit burial on incorporated land. You'll need to check with your planning department or, if you're in the County, you'll have to go to the office where the land use codes are made and enforced, and check with someone there. Usually there are restrictions about the number of family members, the minimum acreage, requirements for recording on the title, etc.

2) Can you be buried on land you don't yet own? It's not always advisable to arrange for burials on land that you don't own. I actually recommend AGAINST burying on your own property unless it's unlikely that it will ever be sold - and that means by your heirs, too. One person contacted me some years ago after she'd buried her husband on their property. A year later she lost the property in a foreclosure and had to go through the terrible ordeal of disinterring her husband and moving his body to a cemetery, as the Bank did not want a body on the property and apparently had the right to remove it.

Sometimes there are protections against removal for graves that are considered historic or of archaeological significance, but the graves usually have to be a century old, and then they can't be disturbed and can actually become a nuisance for owners; I know farmers who have to farm around tiny abandoned family graveyards in the middle of fields. It may seem like a good idea now, and it's very understandable that people who really like a piece of property want to be be buried there. It's satisfying to identify a nice spot on the land and imagine being there for "eternity", but it's not always the best thing to do for future generations.

Your best bet is to do a little research in your area by talking to the folks at the County and seeing what they say the requirements are. You may also want to check out all the small cemeteries near you and see if any seem like good spots to be. I work with one cemetery that does about 2-3 burials a year. The plots are reasonably priced, and there are enough people there that the cemetery isn't going to be moved, so it's a permanent place where future generations can stop by and visit the grave. No one can do that with private property burials, and that's another thing to keep in mind.

Hope that helped!

Cynthia

http://www.naturalburialcompany.com  

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Cynthia Beal

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Typical questions include 1) Where can I go for a natural burial? 2) What types of coffins, urns and other "packaging" are best for natural decomposition? 3)How do I plan for a natural funeral? 4) Do I have to be embalmed? and other questions in this vein. I'm available to answer general consumer questions about natural burial, home and natural funerals, and sustainable cemetery management. I answer questions about general cemetery matters, and offer suggestions about how to deal with remains, cremated or buried, interment rights, rules for cemeteries and plot owners, covering conventional as well as alternative options. I also answer questions from professionals, home funeral guides, and family members about how to manage a natural funeral either in the mortuary or at the home, how to best use natural coffins and urns, and how to convert cemeteries to natural, sustainable practices. I will answer questions from volunteer cemetery managers about how to offer natural burial in their rural, Pioneer, or non-profit cemeteries. If I don't know an answer I'll refer the questioner to someone who does. DISCLAIMER -- I am a certified pre-need sales person in the State of Oregon. I am not a licensed attorney, tax adviser, estate planner, funeral director, embalmer, accountant, public official, or any other professional that may be associated with issues the question brings up and any answers I provide should not be relied upon if such expertise is required by the asker (as per the All Expert suggestion). I provide my own personal opinions, based on my experience in business, Nature and its systems, and with human beings after 55 years of life on the planet.

Experience

Natural burial and sustainable cemetery management experience: I'm the founder of the Natural Burial Company and a member of the Sustainable Cemetery Management Group. Over 25 years in the natural products industry, and 9 years running the Natural Burial Company. I've done some consulting for existing and start-up natural cemetery operations. I'm currently an instructor at Oregon State University, facilitating the creation of a program in sustainable cemetery management and stimulating research in cemetery-oriented processes and functions.

Organizations
ICCFA - International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association Green Business Network Funeral Consumers Alliance

Publications
American Cemetery Magazine; Funeral Business Advisor; Real Goods Source Book; American Funeral Director Magazine, etc.

Education/Credentials
There is no degree in natural burials or funerals, and no accredited education provided for sustainable cemetery management. We're developing a program at Oregon State University but it hasn't fully launched yet.

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