Should You Retitle Your Cemetery Plots?

For today’s posting I thought I would pursue a holiday theme. All Hallows’ Eve is just around the corner. It is the night which precedes All Saints Day. All Saints Day is a Christian holiday in which Christian Saints, martyrs and departed family and friends are remembered. Also, to reinforce the interactive nature of the blog postings I thought I would include an adviser’s question. Here is what came across my desk on Monday:

Ok, I had to ask you this because I thought it might be a question you have never considered before.  I have a client who has pre-paid cemetery plots, and she wonders if they should be retitled into the name of the RLT. Is that possible and have you ever heard of such a thing? Thanks for thinking this over.

This is a great question and I have encountered it before. The first step will be to ask your client, “Is this a pre-paid funeral or have you purchased a cemetery lot (also referred to as a burial plot—jurisdictionally dependent)? My response presumes the later.

The purchaser of a cemetery plot is generally regarded as having purchased a limited property right. Your client has acquired a privilege, an easement, or license to be buried in the plot exclusive of all other people, provided that the land remains a cemetery. Additionally, absent contractual restrictions, plot holders cannot be prevented by cemetery owners from erecting markers, entering the grounds, or interring family members in the plots they own. If a plot owner dies intestate, the limited property right to the plot passes to the heirs in the same manner that tangible personal property passes in the absence of a will.

As regards to retitling the cemetery plot into the Revocable Living Trust, the answer falls into the category of “maybe, maybe not.” You may transfer a cemetery plot into a Revocable Living Trust. This is typically accomplished by executing an Assignment of a Cemetery Plot. Additionally, the cemetery should receive a copy of this Assignment. However, in my practice I think of the cemetery plot as a vehicle or real estate that is up for sale, or will be offered for sale, in a short period of time. These types of assets are not worth the cost and time involved to move them into a Revocable Living Trust. However, if someone feels inclined to make this transfer, there is nothing “scary” about it.

I hope you will join me on this month’s CE/CPE Webcast: DOMA: A Sea Change for Financial Planning on Friday October 25, 2013 at 1:30PM EDT. This month’s live CPE/CE event is a presentation I created to present to the various Estate Planning Councils around the country. The presentation is web based and virtual seating is limited. For more information or to register, please send an email to at




  1. Georganne Mansour says

    Extremely helpful article. Thank you Tom

  2. Bette Netsch says

    Question ? Deceased Sister signed the deed/title to cemetery plot in Pennsylvania upon the death of our Mother. Cemetery advises that ownership goes to her blood relative heirs. Asked cemetery if heirs can transfer title to surviving siblings of their Mother. Cemetery said Pennsylvania probits the transfer of title to anyone. These heirs have possession In perpetuity. Is this correct?
    Thank you for the opportunity.

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