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Grave ownership or deed transferral

Exclusive right of burial

When you buy a grave from Deane Bereavement Service, what you are actually buying is the Exclusive Right of Burial for a specific period of 75 years. You are not buying the grave freehold, it is more like purchasing a lease. No burial may take place in the grave and no memorial may be placed on the grave without the written permission of the grave owner during the period of the Exclusive Rights. A fee is payable for the digging and preparation of a grave at the time of burial and a fee is also payable for the installation of a memorial. The Exclusive Rights may be renewed for a further term towards the end of the lease, but must not exceed 99 years in total.

Ownership of the Exclusive Right of Burial is therefore a very important matter.

Ownership can be transferred either during the owner’s lifetime or after their death. The procedure for transferring the ownership is detailed below.

The Council’s records contain the details of the registered grave owners. However, it is important that the grave owners keep safe their Deed of Grant. The Council issues this document when the grave is first purchased and should be produced for each burial. Possession of the Deed does not in itself signify ownership of the Exclusive Rights.

Transfer of grave ownership

The grave owner can assign the Exclusive Rights of Burial, during their lifetime, to another individual on completion of an Assignment Form.

The owner can surrender the Exclusive Rights of Burial if the grave has not been used for burial, on completion of a Surrender Form. The surrender value being the original purchase price as specified on the Deed of Grant.

The procedure for establishing grave ownership when the original owner has died depends upon whether there is a will.

Deceased left a valid will

If the deceased grave owner has made a valid will and left an estate of sufficient value to require the Grant of Probate to executors, ownership of the grave can be transferred to the executor. The applicant must produce a sealed copy of the Grant of Probate and complete the Transfer-Grant of Probate Form.

If the estate is not of sufficient value, ownership may be transferred to the executor named in the will by Statutory Declaration and the production of the will. It is then the executor’s responsibility to identify the correct person for the transfer of ownership and assent the transfer by completing an assent form.

Grant letters of administration have been obtained

If there is no will, or the will is not valid, and the estate is of sufficient value as to require a Grant of Letters of Administration, ownership of the grave can be transferred to the personal representative of the deceased. The applicant must produce a sealed copy of the Grant of Letters of Administration Form. It is then the applicant’s responsibility to identify the correct person for transfer of ownership and assent the transfer by completing an Assent Form.

Family disputes

Where a family dispute results in a stalemate and relevant consents are withheld, the ownership cannot be transferred. The various next of kin reaching an agreement between them, possibly through the agency of solicitors, can only resolve this. The Council cannot nor will be involved in such disputes, instead we will put a hold on the grave until a suitable resolution has been found.

Deceased dies intestate

If there are no Executors or Letters of Administration have not been granted, the rules of intestacy apply as laid down in the Administration of Estate Act 1925.

The applicant for transfer of ownership should complete a Statutory Declaration. Statutory Declarations are legal documents produced by this office and must be signed in the presence of a Magistrate or Commissioner for Oaths.

The Statutory Declaration should clearly set out the facts regarding the original purchase of the Exclusive Rights of Burial, the death of the registered owner, intestate or otherwise and the relationship of the applicant to the registered owner. The original Deed of Grant and a certified copy of the owner’s death certificate should accompany the Declaration. Where the Deed has been lost, suitable wording should be incorporated within the declaration to the effect. It is essential that the written agreement of all the next of kin of the deceased owner to the transfer of ownership should also be obtained and attached to the Declaration. The following are examples of many of the possible circumstances:

Deceased owner survived by Application made by Consents needed
Spouse Spouse None - transferred to spouse
Spouse Son or daughter Transferred to spouse then can be assigned to son or daughter
No spouse, but four Children Son All other children
No spouse or children, but three brothers or sisters Brother Both other brother and sisters

An administration fee is payable to Somerset West and Taunton Council for the transfer of grave ownership.

Please do not hesitate to contact Deane Bereavement Services on 01823 284811 if you require any further information or advice on how a transfer may be completed.