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Purchasing a Burial Plot

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 18 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Death funeral burial burial Plot

It is estimated that just over a quarter of the British population chooses a traditional burial but even this relatively low percentage is still proving to be too much for cemeteries in the UK. Many local councils are having trouble providing spaces for their deceased residents, and it has been estimated that almost all of London’s cemeteries will be full by 2030. If you are considering a burial for yourself, even simply for your ashes after having been cremated, it may be best to act now and ensure that there will be a space reserved for you whenever you need it.

Selecting a Burial Plot

Given the high demand for the limited supply of plots available in UK cemeteries and graveyards, there may not be too many options available from which you can still select a burial plot. However, this does not mean that there aren’t still some decisions to be made. To begin with, think about where you would like to be laid to rest. Is there a certain town or city? Is there a particular graveyard or cemetery? Would you prefer to be in consecrated ground? Once you have a general idea of where you would like to be buried, contact the Cemetery Services (or similar) department of the local council in that area. This office will be able to tell you all about the burial options within their remit, though chances are that fees will be higher if you are not a resident of that area at the time of your death.

Do not be surprised if the office tells you that you can not buy a burial plot outright, but instead can buy the exclusive rights to that land for a certain number of years (usually between 25 and 100 years). This is a typical situation. It means that you will be awarded a Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial (or similar) and will then be the only person able to bury in that plot for the number of years you have purchased. Often there will be the option to renew the Grant for another number of years if necessary.

Purchasing a Burial Plot as a Gift

Some people would like their whole family to be buried close to each other, and thus inquire about purchasing multiple plots with the intention of gifting them to others. Generally this is not a problem, but you will need to speak to the local authorities about their specific rules and regulations. It may be that you must provide a name for each plot, so think carefully about for whom you will be purchasing the exclusive rights. Also consider if you will still be willing to pay for an extension to the rights for that plot if needed in the future.

Not Purchasing a Burial Plot

At the moment it is by no means essential to pre-purchase the rights to a burial plot if you would like to be buried when you pass away. If you do not pre-purchase a plot, it is most likely that your loved ones will simply allow the funeral director to make these arrangements when they are needed. If, however, there are certain items that you would like included in your funeral service, buried with you in your coffin, or used to mark your grave, then these stipulations should be specifically written out in your will.

Purchasing a burial plot is an attractive option to people who want to be sure of their final resting place. It is not, however, strictly necessary to pre-purchase a burial plot for yourself. If you would like to be buried but have not pre-purchased a plot, leave these instructions in your will and you’re loved ones, with the help of their funeral director, will work towards seeing them through.

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My father purchased the plot where my maternal grandmother was buried when my mother died,to prevent her stepfather being buried with her mother, that was 1973, my father died 1979, his ashes were interred within the plot, would myself or any of my siblings be able to purchase the plot now , would we all have to agree the purchase or could one of my siblings purchase the plot unbeknown to the rest of us, Noodles
Noodles - 15-May-18 @ 3:47 PM
Jean - Your Question:
My parents died 25years ago and I am so worried about having to renew the burial plot in June I am in my seventies and my husband is on disibilty benefits and we are on tax credit it seems so impossible that we can’t afford the £700 needed to renew the plot can you please give me some advice I’m at my wits end I have alwAlways looked after the grave since they both passed away I would like to continue as long as I’m able

Our Response:
Does it definitely expire in June? Was it a 25 year lease? Talk to your cemeteries office or a funeral director about your options.
FacingBereavement - 14-May-18 @ 12:23 PM
My parents died 25years ago and I am so worried about having to renew the burial plot in June I am in my seventies and my husband is on disibilty benefits and we are on tax credit it seems so impossible that we can’t afford the £700 needed to renew the plot can you please give me some advice I’m at my wits end I have alwAlways looked after the grave since they both passed away I would like to continue as long as I’m able
Jean - 13-May-18 @ 4:00 PM
Cindy - Your Question:
Can someone tell me I was Born and Bred in Bournemouth Dorset 1954 until 2009 when moved up to the Midlands. I am now wanting to go back home to Bournemouth. In 1996 my daughter passed away and I paid for a double plot so I can be re united with her. The Council are telling me I have no local connection. Can anyone give me advice I am now 64 Thank you

Our Response:
Have you tried showing the deeds to the council? Usually the burial rights will be valid for 99 years.
FacingBereavement - 4-May-18 @ 3:36 PM
Angie - Your Question:
Doing my family history and I have found my grandparents grave with two uncles buried there as well.My grandmother was the last to be buried and her son was the one who signed her death certificate but he has pastaway over 20yrs now and I want to no how I can get the deeds to the grave.The grave is in glasgow

Our Response:
If there was no Will when the son (the deedholder) died, you should contact the relevant cemetery office.
FacingBereavement - 4-May-18 @ 3:02 PM
Can someone tell me I was Born and Bred in Bournemouth Dorset 1954 until 2009 when moved up to the Midlands. I am now wanting to go back home to Bournemouth. In 1996 my daughter passed away and I paid for a double plot so I can be re united with her. The Council are telling me I have no local connection.Can anyone give me advice I am now 64 Thank you
Cindy - 3-May-18 @ 4:43 PM
Doing my family history and I have found my grandparents grave with two uncles buried there as well.My grandmother was the last to be buried and her son was the one who signed her death certificate but he has pastaway over 20yrs now and I want to no how I can get the deeds to the grave.The grave is in glasgow
Angie - 3-May-18 @ 1:53 PM
My dad brought a plot in a cemetery and now he is no longer here who does the plot go to
Kitty 1 - 27-Apr-18 @ 9:33 PM
My dad recently passed away . My dad is being cremated in Bedford. I live in whitley bay and there is a crematorium in the area. I just wanted to know could I buy burial site at a my local crematorium for my dad.
Peter - 26-Apr-18 @ 5:00 PM
Les P - Your Question:
My Aunt lives in New York and is 83yrs old. If she dies she wants to be repatriated and buried in her mum's grave in the UK. I know where the grave is but my sister has the 'rights to buriel' certificate in South Africa (she has emailed me a copy).How do I go about buying the rights to buriel for her in this grave please?Is it the Council or the Cemetery?Thanks :)

Our Response:
Only the holder of the deeds can say who is buried in the plot. The deeds should give details of the cemetery office - it's likely to be a municipal cemetery since the grave has been bought and is owned by the family - this is not case in a C of E churchyard, where the graves are owned by the Church. If you can't find details of the cemetery office, look for the local council contact for that area and they will direct you accordingly.
FacingBereavement - 18-Apr-18 @ 2:45 PM
My Aunt lives in New York and is 83yrs old. If she dies she wants to be repatriated and buried in her mum's grave in the UK. I know where the grave is but my sister has the 'rights to buriel' certificate in South Africa (she has emailed me a copy). How do I go about buying the rights to buriel for her in this grave please? Is it the Council or the Cemetery? Thanks :)
Les P - 17-Apr-18 @ 3:44 PM
Just enquiring about a plot of land for when my mum dies, also for myself and daughter
Donna - 10-Apr-18 @ 12:12 PM
Tea - Your Question:
My dad died 14 years ago and he is buried down cornwall and my mum wants to be buried with him when she dies but she lives in reading berkshire can she be buried on top of him

Our Response:
Who holds the grave deeds? Is it a plot that will take more than one person? If so she should be able to arrange this by contacting the cemetery in Reading where you father is buried.
FacingBereavement - 9-Apr-18 @ 11:31 AM
My dad died 14 years ago and he is buried down cornwall and my mum wants to be buried with him when she dies but she lives in reading berkshire can she be buried on top of him
Tea - 6-Apr-18 @ 6:00 PM
Can i reserve a grave for myself
Kabay - 4-Apr-18 @ 6:03 AM
Lualua - Your Question:
My Grandmother died August 1999 & was cremated and her ashes buried in a plot, a headstone was put there for her & in March 2002 my Grandfather died, he was also cremated & his ashes were buried in the same plot as my Grandmother. These are my mum's parents. My mum is the eldest out of 5, but the death of my Grandmother caused her & her brother to fall out with the other 3 siblings. We visit the grave regulalary & we arrived today to see headstone had gone. After asking in enquiries we were told they had been exhumed, by her 3 siblings. Forms were filled in by them but obviously not correct as my mum & her brother had no idea this was happening even though it stated on form ALL surviving children had to sign & agree to this. We have just found out they were exhumed because the lease was up on the plot. Is this even possible? And why lease a plot just for 19 years, it's a very off amount. Worse is that my mum & her brother now have no idea where their patents are, to say we are heartbroken is an understatement. Any advice will be much appreciated.

Our Response:
Lease lengths vary (usually from 25 to 99 years). The lease for the plot should have been renewed by the owner(s) of the plot. Generally if a lease is not renewed, the headstone will be removed and collected by the owner or destroyed by the local authority. It's unlikely the contents of the plot will not have been exhumed though. Get in touch with the local authority and find out what your options are. If documents have been fraudulently or improperly dealt with.
FacingBereavement - 28-Feb-18 @ 10:29 AM
My Grandmother died August 1999 & was cremated and her ashes buried in a plot, a headstone was put there for her & in March 2002 my Grandfather died, he was also cremated & his ashes were buried in the same plot as my Grandmother. These are my mum's parents. My mum is the eldest out of 5, but the death of my Grandmother caused her & her brother to fall out with the other 3 siblings. We visit the grave regulalary & we arrived today to see headstone had gone. After asking in enquiries we were told they had been exhumed, by her 3 siblings. Forms were filled in by them but obviously not correct as my mum & her brother had no idea this was happening even though it stated on form ALL surviving children had to sign & agree to this. We have just found out they were exhumed because the lease was up on the plot. Is this even possible? And why lease a plot just for 19 years, it's a very off amount. Worse is that my mum & her brother now have no idea where their patents are, to say we are heartbroken is an understatement. Any advice will be much appreciated.
Lualua - 26-Feb-18 @ 2:19 PM
Anabelles- Your Question:
I'm thinking of buying a plot, I'm 53 and want to ensure I'm next to my mum and dad. Once I have paid for the plot is there a yearly fee?

Our Response:
You need to check this with the relevant cemetery office as there may be differing policies between them.
FacingBereavement - 14-Feb-18 @ 2:40 PM
I'm thinking of buying a plot, I'm 53 and want to ensure I'm next to my mum and dad. Once I have paid for the plot is there a yearly fee?
Anabelles - 13-Feb-18 @ 9:57 PM
Approx 13 years ago I paid for transfer of ownership to myself for a nominal small fee of my greatgrandmothers grave who died in 1936. There no gravestone. As a last resort due to debt issues I am wondering if I could sell it back to the council when according to their website date of death only 50 years duration applied. I was not in fact the next of kin because the owner also deceased long ago had been her second husband and so no blood relation to me. Again according to council website more stringent next of kin checks would be made now. As I'vd said it is a last resort to raise some funds. Any advice please. Thanks
GRANDMOTHER - 29-Dec-17 @ 12:34 PM
None - Your Question:
Our healthy but learning disabled daughter should well outlive us. We live in Scotland. I would like to purchase a cemetery plot so it’s in the will she would be with us, as we will more than certainly die before her. Undecided about burial or cremation but want to make sure the three of us are buried together. Any advice ?

Our Response:
You can specify this in a Will. You could have two scenarios that encompass either shared burial plot (you will need to purchase this in advance) orshared memorial spot (if cremated). A solicitor will help you draw up the Will if needed.
FacingBereavement - 19-Dec-17 @ 1:56 PM
Our healthy but learning disabled daughter should well outlive us. We live in Scotland. I would like to purchase a cemetery plot so it’s in the will she would be with us, as we will more than certainly die before her . Undecided about burial or cremation but want to make sure the three of us are buried together . Any advice ?
None - 17-Dec-17 @ 10:05 AM
I purchased a plot for my son however I think it was just for him. Is it possible to add myself to the same plot?
HayJay - 30-Oct-17 @ 3:05 PM
happyabbie - Your Question:
My dad has said he wants to be cremated and his ashes put with his dad, and other relatives (square headstone) each side of the square) in church yard down road where he grew up. I do not know who has deeds to my grandfathers plot or how I would go about organising it.

Our Response:
Try asking other family members, or you might be able to find out from the cemetery office - where there may be a record. The grave deeds title will usually be passed to administrator of the deceased's estate, so if you can establish who that was, it might help. If there was no executor or administrator deeds automatically pass to the next of kin.
FacingBereavement - 9-Oct-17 @ 3:19 PM
My dad has said he wants to be cremated and his ashes put with his dad, and other relatives (square headstone) each side of the square) in church yard down road where he grew up. I do not know who has deeds to my grandfathers plot or how I would go about organising it.
happyabbie - 8-Oct-17 @ 11:05 PM
Hayleybirkitt - Your Question:
My dad and his sister, there mum my nan is buried in a cemetery in Enfield, she died when he was 7 and the rights to her grave went to there dad, there dad disowned them after there mum died and they were left to be raised with family they have many years later as adults got in contact with there dad to ask for the rights to there mums grave and he had refused. can we not also buy rights to her grave he just wants to be buried with his mum when he dies! And unfortunately his dad is just a horrible horrible heartless man. we really want to be able to have rights to her grave what can we do? Surely a mothers children have rights to her grave? if I died I'd want my children to have the rights to my grave !

Our Response:
Unfortunately the person who holds the grave deeds holds the right to decide who is buried there.
FacingBereavement - 25-Sep-17 @ 2:11 PM
My dad and his sister, there mum my nan is buried in a cemetery in Enfield, she died when he was 7 and the rights to her grave went to there dad, there dad disowned them after there mum died and they were left to be raised with family they have many years later as adults got in contact with there dad to ask for the rights to there mums grave and he had refused .. can we not also buy rights to her grave he just wants to be buried with his mum when he dies! And unfortunately his dad is just a horrible horrible heartless man .. we really want to be able to have rights to her grave what can we do? Surely a mothers children have rights to her grave?if I died I'd want my children to have the rights to my grave !
Hayleybirkitt - 22-Sep-17 @ 11:16 PM
Nobby - Your Question:
Myself and wife purchased a burial plot in 2005 obviously for our burials,since then we have had a change of mind and now thinking of cremation. (Change of mind is will anybody religiously keep it tidy).If we wanted to go ahead with this would the local council buy the site back from us?

Our Response:
The council will most likely buy the plot back from you at the price you paid for it. It might be worth asking local funeral directors if you live in an area where demand for plots is high...you could secure a higher price selling it privately!
FacingBereavement - 20-Sep-17 @ 12:01 PM
Myself and wife purchased a burial plot in 2005 obviously for our burials,since then we have had a change of mind and now thinking of cremation. (Change of mind is will anybody religiously keep it tidy).If we wanted to go ahead with this would the local council buy the site back from us?
Nobby - 19-Sep-17 @ 3:45 PM
Von24 - Your Question:
We sadly recently lost both grandparents within 6 months of one another, both age 90. My grandfather was ex army and very well organised. He purchased a burial plot many years ago but when it came to burial, the funeral director said he could find it so had to purchase another. Is there any way I can search for myself? (Scotland)Thanks

Our Response:
Try all the cemeteries in the area(s) your grandfather might reasonably be expected to have purchased a plot?
FacingBereavement - 21-Aug-17 @ 2:47 PM
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