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Funerals/Plot owner rights

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Question
A member of my family who does not get along with me has recently sent me a letter declaring that I am not allowed to place certain items on the grave site of a loved one.  The items in question are flowers or other decorations.  Does the plot owner have the right to make such restrictions or are these items governed by the cemetary owner?

Answer
Hi Michael,

It's unfortunate that you're having this experience.

Generally, in instances like this it's best to contact the cemetery operator and find out what the cemetery ownership recommends. They often have experience in matters like this and may have some suggestions for you.

They can certainly let you know who DOES have rights because that will be in the contract; however, often rights for placement of additional items can be extremely limited - sometimes to headstones only, and/or flowers only on approved days, or in approved (installed) vases. What's permitted (the 'right') will be in the contract. If it's not specifically allowed, the right to do it wasn't part of the contract and it's up to the cemetery operator's discretion.  Cemetery owners are sometimes lax with enforcing these restrictions until an issue with a family comes up, so do be aware of that, as well.


I hope that helps and good luck,

Cynthia

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Cynthia Beal

Expertise

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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