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Funerals/Private land burials


My family wants to invest in some land to create a family burial grounds. We agreed that we would like it to be a place where we could place cremated remains and also a place where we could put a common head stone or marker for the names. After some research we see that there are many laws and so it is confusing . How do we find out what counties will allow us to purchase land for a family resting place?

There are no laws that specifically permit burial on your own land in VA, although family graveyards are mentioned in several statutes. A good practice is 150 feet from a water supply and 25 feet from a power line with two or three feet of earth on top. Talk to the local zoning folks in whatever town you would like to be. You could then draw a map of the land showing where the family cemetery will be and have it recorded with the deed. Unfortunately, family graveyards
“abandoned” after 25 years may be moved to a new location with the permission of the circuit court if there is no objection.

To bypass the funeral industry entirely, you can download the VA chapter from the Bookstore at for only $5. That will walk you through the process. There is a free Funeral Consumer Rights pamphlet for VA at


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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.

Funeral Ethics Organization ( Funeral Consumers Alliance (

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

Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

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

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