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Funerals/ACCESS TO MY FAMILY CEMETARY

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Question
LISA, MY BROTHER AND I ARE THINKING OF SELLING THE LAST FEW ACRES AND HOUSE THAT BELONGED TO OUR GRANDMOTHER. WHILE TALKING WITH ONE OF OUR NEIGHBORS, WHO IS WANTING TO BUY THE PLACE, I LET HIM KNOW THAT THE ONLY WAY WE WILL CONSIDER SELLING IS IF IT IS STIPULATED THAT OUR FAMILY WILL ALWAYS HAVE ACCESS TO THE CEMETERY.  HE THEN INFORMS ME THAT THE CEMETERY ISN'T EVEN OURS.  THAT WHILE MY GRANDMOTHER WAS STILL ALIVE AND HAD SOLD SOME LAND TO ANOTHER NEIGHBOR THE CEMETERY WAS ALSO SOLD. I DO NOT BELIEVE MY GRANDMOTHER WOULD HAVE EVER SOLD THAT PART OF THE LAND.  MY QUESTION IS, WHERE DO I GO TO OR WHOM DO I NEED TO TALK TO TO FIND OUT IF IT HAS BEEN SOLD AND IF SO, HOW CAN WE KEEP ACCESS TO OUR FAMILY PLOT? PLEASE HELP SOON. THE APPRAISER IS COMING TODAY.

Answer
In what state? In most states, access to a family cemetery is protected.

Go to the land records and look at the deed of the land already sold. You should be able to tell if it includes the land under or around the cemetery.

I'm guessing the cemetery has not been recorded separately in the land records. So before you sell the property, write a description of the cemetery land and record it with the deed: Smith Family Cemetery, three acres, beginning at the boulder on North Road . . . etc. Add that an easement for access is retained by all heirs and assigns even tho' you probably are entitled to that anyway.

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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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