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The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 7 Oct 2019 | comments*Discuss
Grave Cemetery Plot Gravestone Grave


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)


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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My dad passed away 3 years ago and his family said they would get him a headstone but never did and I as his daughter I would love to get one so I can go and spend time with him on his birthday, on Christmas and many other important days. Am I still able to get one for him even tho it has been 3 years?
Tiahn - 6-Sep-19 @ 8:22 AM
Can I get the current headstone for my dad who has recently passed engraved as my mother died first and there is already a headstone there without going through my sister who was the executor of the will and pay for the engraving myself
Andie - 3-Sep-19 @ 1:57 AM
The state paid my sons burial. They paid for marker. I want to put ahead stone on but they said I could not because state paid for it. It's been over 8 years know is there anyway I can fight this. I live and hi is buriedin Lexington ky.
Lee - 13-Aug-19 @ 3:14 AM
My dad was 90 years old he was an engineer for 50 years for H.B.&T railroad.He never had a dad His death was a result of. Gudalupe HOSPITAl in Seguin Texas.I can't say too much but I need help with a marker for his grave. It's in NewBrunfels Texas . Please help me.Thank You
None - 6-Jul-19 @ 9:58 AM
My son was buried with my grandmother a number of years ago I have been trying to erect a headstone to him for a long time however the family are being very difficult they will not allow my grandmas headstone to be touched but will also not allow a separate tablet can I put one on without there permission as it is a separate memorial
Mim - 17-Jun-19 @ 10:56 AM
I am wanting to put an headstone on my fathersgrave who died over35 years ago but as i only want to put my mothers/his wifes name and me and my brother on it can an estranged sister take legal action against me or my mother for not including her in the inscription Please help me
DOOGY - 16-Jun-19 @ 9:23 PM
My uncle passed away 4 years ago and his wife said she was going to get him a headstone but still hasn’t.I think he deserves to have one. Can you get one for him since she isn’t?
Cinda - 23-May-19 @ 7:12 PM
My mother died 4months ago, after having terrible experiences with the funeral director l decided to take him to court but found out my brother who lives in Jamaica was also dealing with the funeral director in dishonesty and became demanding and threatening, which forced me into not being able to take legal action. Now my mother lies in a family pot it was her wish to have a headstone that she left money for and paid for from her Scottish widow insurance but l cannot have it erected as my brother may we'll decide he does not like nor want the headstone l put on there, there was no will as my mother always had me look after her every need and was her only next of kin. All l want is to be able to put my mother and father's headstone on without the worry of my brother being malicious and telling the cemetery he doesn't want it on there otherwise l have to remove it at my cost after also paying a lawyer for me to state l will remove it.....plz help.
Marie - 17-May-19 @ 6:43 PM
My grandmother died 3 years ago, she is buried in a plot my adopted mom owns. She will not let any of my grandmothers family put a tombstone or flowers or anything. Is it yrue after 3 years my grandmother's family can infact put a tombstone for her even if my adopted mom doesn't want one. I live in Kentucky and I don't know what the laws are in burial and tombstones and I don't know where to look.
Stacy - 16-Apr-19 @ 6:58 PM
My sisters oldest daughter died 3 1/2 years ago. The service was awesome and her son in law buried her daughter without a headstone. When she asked about it he assured her that it would be done within a year. Needless to say he never put a headstone on the grave. My sister called the cemetery and asked if she could buy a headstone and have I put on her daughters grave. They told her the husband bought the plot so only he could do it. She repeatedly asked her son in law to allow her to buy the headstone so it could be placed on her beloved daughters grave. He would not have to pay anything and she would carry the entire cost. After years of asking he wont even respond. Is there anything she can do. I heard about grave abandonment. Is there such a thing.
missgrace - 27-Mar-19 @ 8:54 PM
My gran owned the grave but she died so her daughter my aunt had the deed passed to her she gave permission for a family member to be buried in the grave my aunt as since died and the deed did not get passed on but since then another person as bee buried in the grave and they have put up an headstone the lettering is that big you cannot see grans name so will I be allowed to have grans name put back at the top
Day - 19-Mar-19 @ 7:06 PM
My fiancee's younger brother died and the mother is in charge of everything even though her last words to the brother over 5y ago was "I dont ever wanna see you again". She has messed up the whole funeral and now he don't even have a stone as she refuse to put one up even though we will pay for it. Is there anything we can do? She hated her own child when he was alive and even after his death she is messing with him. It's not fair at all.
Ace - 20-Feb-19 @ 7:37 PM
Hi, We recently found out that my older sister is actually my half sister. Her father died when my mother was 5 months pregnant with her .Today she is 32 years old and after locating his grave we found that there is still no gravestone put up for him. We also found out that my Grandmother ( my mothers mother) is the owner of the grave deed. We contacted her and she refuses to give us permission to put up a gravestone for him. What can we do?
Yolandi - 5-Feb-19 @ 7:09 AM
Do the same rules and regulations apply to a cremation plot as a burial plot?Also should I have any deeds for my parents cremation plot? I don't recall receiving one following their deaths
Bob - 4-Feb-19 @ 5:15 PM
My mom passed away more then 2 years ago 2 and ahalf years ago and still does not have a head stone at her grave sightcan anyone put a head stone there for her after that long of time or does it have to be the one left in charge.at that time and also my Dad is still alivedoes it have to be him that puts the head stone there but he doesn't have money to do it now so in that case can anyone do it .my phone is(316) 525- 6327
Sis - 11-Jan-19 @ 2:35 PM
I brought mymum and dad grave stone. My two brotherskeeptaking my flowers off the stoneand they puttheirs on instead. My brother as said it belongs to thefamilythey havenot beenin my lifeand they did not want to payanymoneyforit . Do I have morerightthen them on n the stone.
Pink pig - 31-Dec-18 @ 3:15 PM
My grandmother died way back in 1925. Her grave was only marked by a boulder with no inscription. After many years I have finally located the grave and I want to place a more permanent stone there in order to recognise long held family regrets for her anonymous plot. Can I legally do that?
Stu - 25-Nov-18 @ 2:40 PM
Can i erect a headstone on my mothers grave she died 12 years ago? Another member of the family has the deed but she will not give us permission to put oneup because we stole a lot of her money she was entitled to from our mother.
Rick - 18-Nov-18 @ 8:36 PM
I would like to put a headstone on my Grandsons grave my son and daughter in law are ok with this can I have one
Lyn - 11-Nov-18 @ 8:33 PM
My two sisters have erected a headstone on a family grave without the deed of Grant they have also included my mum under the header of the grave which was her maiden name and not her married name and without the consent of her husband is this legal
Starlight Catherine - 9-Nov-18 @ 6:50 AM
Hello my friends son, 17 died in a tragic accident a year ago. The church have made it very difficult to deal with. The stone has been laid in the wrong place & it half on & half off of his grave. The Vicar wants it there & wont let it be put onto his actual grave. This is causing so much upset & agony. Any advice is very welcome. Thank you
Shell - 6-Oct-18 @ 1:34 PM
My brother passed away 2015 and the only person on the deed list is his wife but she has not done a headstone for him..now my family wants one done but she will not sign for rights to be passed over..what can i do?
ninja - 26-Aug-18 @ 11:15 AM
I just found out recently that my grandmother name is not on the headstone with my grandfather, as he married again after she died, just my grandfather and his second wife are on it, I would like to have my grandmother recognized as being there, do I need permission or can I go ahead and buy a separate plaque in her memory..
Kate - 18-Aug-18 @ 10:51 PM
Hi,my brother arranged the headstone for my mums grave, it was paid for from my mums banks account and out of all mine and my siblings inheritance after her death.He has put the wrong date of death on it which happens to be a meaningful date for another happier reason for me, i have asked him to have it altered as it was his mistake and was told that he wouldn't and as the deeds for the plot are in his name (although paid for by my late mums estate)he would not give permission for me to do so either . Is there anything i can do legally to enable me to have the stone altered without his permission?
tinyp - 13-Jul-18 @ 3:37 AM
minion13 - Your Question:
If 2 parties own the deeds to a grave can they put a headstone on without the other party consent or knowledge

Our Response:
You should contact your local cemetery office. We don't know whether grave deeds can be jointly held by more than one person.
FacingBereavement - 27-Jun-18 @ 11:33 AM
My brothers daughter passed away the commentary deed is under her mother's name. She has bought the stone. What could my brother do so he could buy the stone
Monie - 26-Jun-18 @ 9:57 PM
If 2 parties own the deeds to a grave can they put a headstone on without the other party consent or knowledge
minion13 - 26-Jun-18 @ 2:00 PM
Mum passed away 3 years ago and brother took total control eliminating me from making decisions for the funeral and we've spent the last three in an estate dispute. Although I offered to pay for a headstone a number of times through my solicitor, he ignored my requests. Payments are now due to be distributed to beneficiaries and he has decided on style and wording of headstone to be paid out of the estate. Does he have the right to claim these costs at this stage? I'm not standing in the way of him erecting a headstone but as we will never agree on the style or wording I believe he should fund this himself. Thank you
Mickynorth - 4-May-18 @ 8:39 PM
Rose - Your Question:
My dad passed and my mom has deed to grave. I have a half sibling who is sticking her nose in and is going to buy a headstone with just his name on stone. She cannot have it placed unless she has a deed, correct.? My mom intends on getting a stone with both names on it.

Our Response:
No only the deed holder can have a headstone erected. The deed holder can take legal action to have one erroneously erected.
FacingBereavement - 20-Apr-18 @ 12:23 PM
My dad passed and my mom has deed to grave. I have a half sibling who is sticking her nose in and is going to buy a headstone with just his name on stone. She cannot have it placed unless she has a deed, correct.? My mom intends on getting a stone with both names on it.
Rose - 18-Apr-18 @ 1:12 AM
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