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Funerals/Family plot dispute

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Question
QUESTION: don't know if you can help me or not but I have a question about a family cemetery. My late father in law donated two acres for a church and cemetery to be built several years ago in Marion County,MS. The property line goes through the middle of the cemetery. Half of the cemetery belongs to the church and the other half belongs to the Blansett family. It has been brought to our attention that the pastor of the church has taken it upon himself to bury his brother in law on our side of the property line without permission. My sister in law called the pastor and said "there's been a mistake because you buried that man on the wrong side" and his reply was "I figured your family would be upset" he buried this man on private property. What are our options?

ANSWER: If it's not clear where the property line is -- such as a fence -- I think anyone can be buried anywhere in the cemetery if the church approves.

Is the two acres actually deeded to the church in the town records or was it an informal gift? If it was never actually deeded, then the remaining family might want to do so now in a way that makes the property lines clear.

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QUESTION: The two acres are deeded to the church. However the property line is the line that separates our land from the churches. It was originally 20 acres and 2 acres on the corner were deeded over to them. In other words it would be like two cemetery's butted up against each other. The land they buried him on is not deeded to them. It is deeded to my mother in law. There is land markers to show where their land stops an ours begins. The preacher there was friends with my father in law before he passed away and knew that only Blansetts could be buried on our side of the property line, which was my father in laws land. Does that make sense?

Answer
Then I think you need to approach the pastor about moving the wrong interment back to church land. I'm guessing he was worried about running out of space for the church's cemetery when he poached some of yours for that burial. Two acres isn't a lot of land for a church cemetery, and he probably didn't think your family would use up your side of the land.

How do you think the pastor would respond to such a request? He sounds pretty indifferent and irresponsible from what you've said so far.

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Lisa Carlson

Expertise

Funeral Law. Having written a 512-page book on funeral law for consumers with state-by-state information, I am very conversant with consumer rights in this regard: What are the laws on disposition of cremated remains? Is embalming required? Do I have to use a funeral home? Can I have a home wake? Is it a state law to buy a vault? I prepaid for a funeral but changed my mind. They won`t give me all my money back. What can I do? . . . If you have an immediate need for information because a death has just occurred or is about to occur, you may call me at 802-482-6021.

Experience

I have monitored the funeral industry on behalf of consumers for over 20 years. I have been a guest speaker to funeral trade organizations, consumer workshops, and social service professionals. I am regularly consulted by lawyers and legislators as well as journalists.

Organizations
Funeral Ethics Organization (www.funeralethics.org) Funeral Consumers Alliance (www.funerals.org)

Publications
Caring for Your Own Dead (1987) Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love (1998) I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch (2001) Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death (2011) with co-author Joshua Slocum

Education/Credentials
Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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