Cemetery Lots, Burial Plots, Mausoleums, and Niches: Investing in Your Future, Part 4

/ October 18, 2017

Ownership of a Cemetery Lot

Purchasing a cemetery lot is not an absolute title to the land, but it is sometimes designated as an easement, privilege, right (of burial), or license. Despite this, an owner is able to sue cemetery owners or strangers for disturbing the lot without consent while the lot is used as a cemetery. The lot owners have rights against invasion by trespassers or by the cemetery itself.

See Minn. Stat. § 306.08.

Descent of a Cemetery Lot

The descent of a cemetery lot is governed by probate law (Minnesota Statutes 525). A cemetery lot or burial plot that is subject to the right of interment of the decedent, unless disposed of by the owner pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 306.29, descends free of all debts to the people listed below, in order of priority:

  1. to the decedent’s surviving spouse, a life estate with right of interment of the spouse therein, and remainder over to the person who would be entitled to the fee if there were no spouse, provided, however, if no person entitled to the remainder of the fee survives, then the entire fee to the surviving spouse with right of interment therein;
  2. if there is no surviving spouse, then to the decedent’s eldest surviving child;
  3. if there is no surviving child, then to the decedent’s youngest surviving sibling;
  4. if there is no surviving spouse, child or sibling of the decedent, then, if not sold during administration of decedent’s estate, to the cemetery association or private cemetery in trust as a burial lot for the decedent and such of the decedent’s relatives as the governing body thereof shall deem proper.

The cemetery association or private cemetery, or any person to whom the lot shall descend (with the cemetery’s consent), may grant and convey the lot to any of the decedent’s parents, siblings or descendants.

Grave markers, monuments, memorials and all structures lawfully installed or erected on any cemetery lot or burial plot are deemed to be a part of, and descend with, the lot or plot.

See Minn. Stat. § 525.14.

Minnesota law does not explicitly provide what a cemetery lot owner’s interest is, but the Courts may agree with decisions from other jurisdictions.  See Brown v. Hill, 119 N.E. 977 (Ill. 1918). See also Anderson v. Acheson, 110 N.W. 335 (Iowa 1907); Rowley v. Laingsburg Cemetery Ass’n, 184 N.W. 480 (Mich. 1921); and Erickson v. Sunset Memorial Park Ass’n, 108 N.W.2d 434 (Minn. 1961).