Home > Ask Our Experts > The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?

The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 21 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Grave Cemetery Plot Gravestone Grave

Q.

I lost my dad when I was really young and have never had a gravestone at his plot.

Because of a family argument, my uncle got the deeds to the plot rather than my mother and he never got a headstone because he didn't want him buried.

Can you give me any advice about how I would obtain the rights to get a headstone now - many years later? I would buy them if possible. Or could you give any advice about what I am entiled to do with the plot without needing the deeds such as putting a permentant vase or something there instead?

(I.F, 13 April 2009)

A.

What may be put on a grave site depends upon both the Deed of Grant as related to the plot and the rules and regulations of cemetery in which the grave resides.

Generally it is only the person who is named on the Deed of Grant to a cemetery plot who can erect memorials and decide upon the inscription of these items, but there may be some situations in which others can become involved. If, for example, the Deed of Grant has expired and needs to be extended then it may be that a second individual can become involved and do this. Similarly, if the person named on the Deed of Grant dies then the Deed becomes a part of his or her estate or is given to his or her next of kin.

However, for individuals who want to become more involved in the grave without waiting for one of these events, then a transfer of Deed can be undertaken. This requires the person named on the Deed to agree to transfer the title, and requires that both the person named on the Deed and the person to whom the Deed is transferring must register the new information at the cemetery office.

In addition to having the right to erect a memorial via the Deed of Grant, what may be put on a grave site must also conform to the cemetery's rules and regulations. These guidelines may specify the size and/or shape of a memorial, the type of materials which may be used, the number of items which may be erected and also cover smaller items such as permanent vases and plaques. These guidelines will also cover who has the right to erect or leave such items, so it is important to make sure that they are totally understood before any decisions are made regarding memorials.

If, after you check on both the Deed and the cemetery's regulations, you find that you will be unable to erect a gravestone as desired then you might consider another way of honouring your father. Planting a tree or flowers in his name, donating a bench in his name, erecting a plaque somewhere else in the cemetery or in another location may be possible ways by which his presence is acknowledged without requiring the Deed to his plot.

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Hello. My sister had a still born son 3 years ago who was cremated. She kept his ashes but wants them buried and a grave plot to be able to visit. Is this possible and does it cost alot?
Hales - 21-Apr-17 @ 11:55 PM
Tammy - Your Question:
I want to know the answer to this question my family is going thru the exact thing please I need to know I was threatened with the police ( being arrested) if I put one on there. Even though it's been 3 years!!

Our Response:
Which question? The one above has been answered in the article and the one below also has an answer?
FacingBereavement - 19-Apr-17 @ 11:42 AM
Jr - Your Question:
I have a difficult situation my sister died 2 years ago her husband did not get a headstone her husband oit of spite said we cant buy her one all my parents want is for there daughter to have a headstone. Now he has moved oit of north carolina is there anyway that we can buy my sister a headstome my dad is heartbroken

Our Response:
We can only speak from a UK point of view. Here you can you only arrange the headstone/memorial if you are the holder of the grave deeds. If the deed holder refuses to erect a headstone, the only option is to try legal action via the courts.
FacingBereavement - 19-Apr-17 @ 11:42 AM
I want to know the answer to this question my family is going thru the exact thing please I need to know I was threatened with the police ( being arrested) if I put one on there.. Even though it's been 3 years!!
Tammy - 16-Apr-17 @ 6:50 PM
I have a difficult situation my sister died 2 years ago her husband did not get a headstone her husband oit of spite said we cant buy her one all my parents want is for there daughter to have a headstone. Now he has moved oit of north carolina is there anyway that we can buy my sister a headstome my dad is heartbroken
Jr - 14-Apr-17 @ 8:27 PM
Dmarie - Your Question:
My fiance passed 7 months ago. I realized that his mom has put no tombstone we have 3 kids together in feel horrible my kids going to see just dirt nothing in the memory of there father. Is there anything I can do?

Our Response:
Talk to his mother first of all (assuming she's the one that holds the grave deeds). Maybe she can't afford this at the moment or is still waiting for the stone to be completed?
FacingBereavement - 10-Apr-17 @ 12:48 PM
My fiance passed 7 months ago. I realized that his mom has put no tombstone we have 3 kids together in feel horrible my kids going to see just dirt nothing in the memory of there father... Is there anything I can do?
Dmarie - 7-Apr-17 @ 12:55 PM
Caz - Your Question:
Hi I wonder if you can help me please. My Husband died 18 years ago and I purchased a double plot for him and myself. I have a headstone at the grave with an inscription for him. I left the bottom half of the headstone blank for myself.My Brother in law died 2 years ago the family asked my permission if they could bury his ashes with my husband and I gave written permission. ( I do not talk to the family as we fell out years ago) I did not give them permission to write on the headstone as that space was for me when I die. But they have done this and I am so upset. I am the deed holder. Is there anything I can do? I thought they would have had to have my written permission before going ahead with this. Kind Regards

Our Response:
Yes they should have obtained your permission beforehand and whoever did the engraving should have been approved by the cemetery office and should have checked the title deeds before carrying out the work. The best solution if there is no space for your name when you die, might be to take legal action for payment for an additional or replacement headstone.
FacingBereavement - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:02 PM
Hi I wonder if you can help me please. My Husband died 18 years ago and I purchased a double plot for him and myself. I have a headstone at the grave with an inscription for him. I left the bottom half of the headstone blank for myself. My Brother in law died 2 years agothe family asked my permission if they could bury his ashes with my husband and I gave written permission. ( I do not talk to the family as we fell out years ago) I did not give them permission to write on the headstone as that space was for me when I die. But they have done this and I am so upset. I am the deed holder. Is there anything I can do?I thought they would have had to have my written permission before going ahead with this. Kind Regards
Caz - 5-Apr-17 @ 6:39 PM
PEG - Your Question:
Hi I im getting a head stone for my nanna and grandads grave my mum and aunts ashes are also buried there can I have all there names on the head stone ore do I need permission I would also like to have my dads name on it as well under in memory of is this allowed as I was told ide have to get permission 1st

Our Response:
Check with the cemetery office. Generally you the holder of the grave deeds can put whatever they like on the headstone, within the cemetery rules.
FacingBereavement - 24-Mar-17 @ 11:06 AM
hi i im getting a head stone for mynanna and grandads grave my mum and aunts ashes are also buried there can i have all there names on the head stone ore do i need permission i would also like to have my dads name on it as well under in memory of is this allowed as i was told ide have to get permission 1st
PEG - 21-Mar-17 @ 7:13 AM
Soul - Your Question:
HelloMy sister and husband (step father to my nephews) have put on the head stone "involving memory from Angela David and Grandsons" When I first went to my parents grave to lay flowers I was very upset to read this on the headstone as I was not consulted about the wording of my parents headstone. She did not include myself I am the other daughter nor did she mention my daughter who is the grandchild also. It was like I did not exist in my parents life and my parents loved both daughters. This is still causing me upset as when my and my daughter go to the grave to lay flowers we have to see these words all the time. my sister wanted rights to the grave and new exactly what she was doing when leaving me off the headstone. When I look at other headstones in the cemetery they read in loving memory from the family with no names of the people alive on the head stone. Is there anything I can do about this as my sister and her husband do not speak to me since my parents died. I do get very hurt everytime I go to the grave as I feel I have been cut off the memory of my parents and I was not part of their lives and meant nothing to my parents which everyone close to me tells me my parents loved me the same and its only words and I should just ignore it but I can't because it is painful when I lay flowers for my parents and it hurst my daughter also as she was close to her grandparents. I think it was an evil act to do and left me with know closure to greive in my private way. This was 3 years ago now and I still feel like this. Can you help please because I am not sure if a solicitor can do anything to ask my sister to correct the wording to stop causing more pain and leaving the my parents legacy of only having one child.

Our Response:
If you are not the holder of the grave deeds, then you cannot erect a headstone yourself. We don't know if a solicitor can help, but it's worth consulting one to find out. They'll be able to do more than we can for you.
FacingBereavement - 20-Mar-17 @ 11:22 AM
Hello My sister and husband (step father to my nephews) have put on the head stone "involving memory from Angela David and Grandsons"When I first went to my parents grave to lay flowers I was very upset to read this on the headstone as I was not consulted about the wording of my parents headstone.She did not include myself I am the other daughter nor did she mention my daughter who is the grandchild also.It was like I did not exist in my parents life and my parents loved both daughters.This is still causing me upset as when my and my daughter go to the grave to lay flowers we have to see these words all the time.my sister wanted rights to the grave and new exactly what she was doing when leaving me off the headstone.When I look at other headstones in the cemetery they read in loving memory from the family with no names of the people alive on the head stone.Is there anything I can do about this as my sister and her husband do not speak to me since my parents died.I do get very hurt everytime I go to the grave as I feel I have been cut off the memory of my parents and I was not part of their lives and meant nothing to my parents which everyone close to me tells me my parents loved me the same and its only words and I should just ignore it but I can't because it is painful when I lay flowers for my parents and it hurst my daughter also as she was close to her grandparents.I think it was an evil act to do and left me with know closure to greive in my private way.This was 3 years ago now and I still feel like this.Can you help please because i am not sure if a solicitor can do anything to ask my sister to correct the wording to stop causing more pain and leaving the my parents legacy of only having one child.
Soul - 17-Mar-17 @ 8:08 AM
Ems - Your Question:
I have a grave stone and there is 2 people on the grave stone already but we just wanted a name put on the stone in memory of the person could we do that

Our Response:
If you are the holder of the grave deeds you should be able to add a name to the headstone.
FacingBereavement - 14-Mar-17 @ 11:48 AM
I have a grave stone and there is 2 people on the grave stone already but we just wanted a name put on the stone in memory of the person could we do that
Ems - 12-Mar-17 @ 8:39 AM
Allen - Your Question:
Hi there, thank you for answering questions on this important subject. My father passed away two years ago and his step wife has refused to put up a headstone out of spite to the children from his first marriage. I understand that she has the deed to the grave, so that legally she is the only person who can put up a headstone. With that in mind, a couple of questions: 1) Is there a legal means of forcing her to put up a headstone of some kind? 2) Is there a means of bypassing her altogether. For example, if the cemetery is municipal?3) What can we legally put on the gravestone that she cannot legally remove? Is there anything besides flowers that we can leave there which she is not able to remove? Can we leave keepsakes and tokens of affection without her legally being able to remove them?Thank you so much for your time. Looking forward to your thoughtful response on this matter.

Our Response:
Anyone can leave flowers, but that's about the limit. In most cemeteries they will not allow you to erect any kind of memorial/statue etc without the grave deeds. A court order might work? Possibly try and see if you can get a free half hour initial consultation with a solicitor.
FacingBereavement - 10-Mar-17 @ 11:05 AM
Hi there, thank you for answering questions on this important subject. My father passed away two years ago and his step wife has refused to put up a headstone out of spite to the children from his first marriage. I understand that she has the deed to the grave, so that legally she is the only person who can put up a headstone. With that in mind, a couple of questions: 1) Is there a legal means of forcing her to put up a headstone of some kind? 2) Is there a means of bypassing her altogether. For example, if the cemetery is municipal? 3) What can we legally put on the gravestone that she cannot legally remove? Is there anything besides flowers that we can leave there which she is not able to remove? Can we leave keepsakes and tokens of affection without her legally being able to remove them? Thank you so much for your time. Looking forward to your thoughtful response on this matter.
Allen - 9-Mar-17 @ 4:01 AM
My mother passed away recently and my step father arranged all the funeral details so has ownership of the deeds for her grave. He was never married to my mother and so he found it hard to put claims over her assets. This has turned sour within the family as in the eyes of the law her assets are her children's, mine and my brothers. Anyway, he hates me and has been fairly secretive over many things including that of the deed. I didn't even know that grave deeds existed until today when I rang funeral care to ask about what I have to do in order to erect a gravestone in about a years time. I was told I would need written permission from the deed owner (my step father). He will not allow me to do this. I'm currently going through probate and wondered if there is anything I can about this. What worries me most is that when he passes away the ownership deeds go to his daughter who wasn't my mothers daughters in any shape or form. I have also taken on all cost of the funeral as he refused to pay for after we feel out even though he is the signatory for the account and as the company that dealt with my mums funeral clearly stated he is their client even though I'm the person paying for the funeral.
samgx - 2-Mar-17 @ 10:17 PM
Alisha Snell - Your Question:
Do you have to have a profgessiknal install a headstone or can you do it yourself? My familyhave done this I n our family cemetary before but I am wondering about a public cemetary. There are no regulations with this place, any kind /size of stone n they do not offer installation services and I cannot afford alot so I wanted to go through an online dealer

Our Response:
The cemetery office will provide all the information you need...all public cemeteries have strict regulations about this.
FacingBereavement - 1-Mar-17 @ 11:27 AM
Do you have to have a profgessiknal install a headstone or can you do it yourself? My familyhave done this i n our family cemetary before but I am wondering about a public cemetary. There are no regulations with this place, any kind /size of stone n they do not offer installation services and I cannot afford alot so I wanted to go through an online dealer
Alisha Snell - 27-Feb-17 @ 4:30 PM
Hi my husbands dad was buried with his twin brother who died 8years before him. A son of the first twin has the deeds but now we would like to put up a headstone (he never had one for his dad) with both their details it's been 2years and he won't let us. Can we take him to court to ask that he allows us?
Kay - 25-Feb-17 @ 11:35 PM
Debbie - Your Question:
My husband recently passed away, his first wife passed 20 yrs ago, now my sister wants to put up a monument with both their names on it as if they were still married. How do I prevent this?

Our Response:
There's nothing to prevent her erecting a "monument" somewhere in her memory, but she wants to erect a headstone or memorial at the grave itself, she will need to be the holder of the title deeds to the grave. We assume as your sister, that she isn't, so would not be able to do this.
FacingBereavement - 23-Feb-17 @ 2:19 PM
My husband recently passed away, his first wife passed 20 yrs ago, now my sister wants to put up a monument with both their names on it as if they were still married . How do I prevent this?
Debbie - 22-Feb-17 @ 7:59 PM
Can a head be stored at a relations place until the time of the unveiling or does it have to be taken straight to the resting place of the deceased to be erected and covered untill a few days before the unveiling. Maori Tradition is this the right way.
Diane thompson - 18-Feb-17 @ 10:48 PM
Doz- Your Question:
I have chosen my late husbands headstone. I am wanting it to be erected on a saturday, as most of my family don't live in the area and that is the only day they can come.i was told by the company I am buying it from told me it illegal to erect a headstone on a saturday is those true

Our Response:
You should contact the offices/manager of the cemetery or churchyard in which your husband is buried to find out this. Interments and headstone erections are often performed during the week because of working hours more than anything else.
FacingBereavement - 16-Feb-17 @ 12:02 PM
Darla - Your Question:
My father passed away two years ago and my stepmother has not put a headstone on his grave. The cemetery is all family but for one person and you do not need to purchase a plot to be buried there. Can I purchase a headstone for his grave without being prosecuted by my stepmother?

Our Response:
If it's not a municipal cemetery the same rules may not apply...you will need to speak with the people who manage the cemetery.
FacingBereavement - 16-Feb-17 @ 10:11 AM
I have chosen my late husbands headstone. I am wanting it to be erected on a saturday, as most of my family don't live in the area and that is the only day they can come. .i was told by the company I am buying it from told me it illegal to erect a headstone on a saturday is those true
Doz - 15-Feb-17 @ 4:17 PM
My father passed away two years ago and my stepmother has not put a headstone on his grave. The cemetery is all family but for one person and you do not need to purchase a plot to be buried there. Can I purchase a headstone for his grave without being prosecuted by my stepmother?
Darla - 15-Feb-17 @ 12:40 AM
My grandmothers oldest son passed in 1988, my grandfather who was married to my grandmother at the time had deed to the double plot. My grandparents got divorced and grandfather remarried. When my grandfather passed his now widowed wife removed my uncle from the headstone to be spiteful to my grandmother. I believe there has to be a grey area here. Did she have rights to remove him from my grandfather's headstone even though he had been dead for 20 years prior?
Krys - 5-Feb-17 @ 11:58 AM
Looking for advice, my dad died 30 years ago, he and my mother were divorced and she remarried. He never had a funeral, well he had a paupers funeral and his ashes were discarded on a communal area. It's a long and complicated story, which is hard to explain as I don't understand it myself. All I'm wanting to know is, my mother has planted a tree memorial in the cemetery last year for my dad without telling me or my brother, she has done this to cause trouble not out of the goodness of her heart (with her second ex husband right next to it, even though he has a grave with his ashes in another cemetery) if we wanted to take these trees, or at least the plaques down then where do we stand and what's the best way to go about it? How do we find out about who owns the deeds?
OBG - 5-Feb-17 @ 1:38 AM
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