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Funerals/access to family plot in divorce


My grandfather purchased 4 grave sites where he, my grandmother and father are buried. It was intended for my mother as well but my parents divorced after 25 yrs together. My father remarried and 2nd wife passed away and chose not to be buried next to my father leaving the plot open. My siblings and I would like to use plot for our mother who also agrees with plan.  
I contacted cemetery and they said it is not possible without a court order.
We realize that the EX wife, does not have rights but all descendents who would have rights to the plot agree. Indeed, this would probably make my father smile.  (My parents still lived next door to each other until Dad died.)  
What Indiana statute would I be looking for and would it be possible to self represent wishes before a judge. where do I begin? and hurry mom is 91!  Thank you for your assistance.

Did your grandfather have any other children other than your father?

I didn't give you time to answer that, but I'm assuming not. Here's the applicable law which would give the plot to the children, according to my reading of it--

IC 23-14-42-4
Burial rights passing as part of estate
    Sec. 4. Upon the death of the record owner of the burial rights in a burial plot, the burial rights pass as part of the estate of the owner if:
       (1) the record owner did not dispose of the burial rights by:
         (A) a specific devise in the last will and testament of the record owner; or
         (B) a written designation or transfer of ownership recorded with the cemetery under section 2 or 3 of this chapter;
       (2) the burial rights have not become vested in another individual under IC 23-14-39 or IC 23-14-40;
       (3) the burial plot does not become a family burial plot under IC 23-14-41 before the instrument referred to in subdivision (4) is recorded with the cemetery; and
       (4) an instrument that:
         (A) is prepared in accordance with IC 29-1; and
         (B) documents the person or persons entitled to become the new record owner or owners of the burial plot and to receive the burial rights as part of the deceased record owner's estate;
       is recorded with the cemetery.

You can use that when talking to a Probate Court judge. You don't usually need to use a lawyer in Probate Court.


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Lisa Carlson


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.


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.

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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

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