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2. Transferring grave ownership (rights of burial)

When the last owner of a grave dies the family may wish to transfer the grave to a new owner for several reasons:

  • to keep the grave in the family
  • to enable works to be made to the headstone/memorial
  • to allow for the grave to be used for a burial or burial of cremated remains

If a grave owner dies and it is intended that their cremated remains are to be buried in their own grave the ownership does not need to be transferred for this to take place as a grave owner is legally entitled to be buried in his/her grave without further permission.

Who is entitled to take ownership of a grave?

Probate - Where the deceased owner left a will and his/her estate was subject to probate the person/s named on probate as the executors to the will are the person/s legally entitled to take ownership of the grave.

Letters of administration - Where the deceased owner did not leave a will but there was sufficient estate, Letters of Administration would be issued.  The person/s named on the Letters of Administration as the executors to the estate are the person/s legally entitled to take ownership of the grave.
In both of the above cases the ownership can be transferred to another person or persons or an additional owner added during the transfer process.

Intestate - Where the deceased owner died intestate (without a will) and there was insufficient estate to pass through the court we will need to help you establish whom is rightfully entitled to take ownership of the grave.  Once this is established we will write a statutory declaration which will detail whom is entitled and whether there are any other parties involved. This can be complex and it may be necessary for the person applying for ownership to get in contact with many members of the family to gain their permission.  There are some cases where we are unable to transfer the ownership of a grave where people are not contactable or unwilling to get involved.

An administration fee is payable for the transfer of grave ownership.

Common questions people ask

How long will it take? 

We aim to complete the transfer as soon as possible –  please allow another 2 to 4 weeks.

Can cases be dealt with more quickly?

We can only fast track transfers where there is an immediate need for the grave to be opened for burial.

Why do I need to pay fees?

The average transfer of ownership takes two to three hours of staff time. Staff are also required to update our computer database and burial registers.

I’ve been told that I cannot have the grave transferred. Is there anything I can do?

We will try our best to find a way to transfer the ownership of a grave but in some cases it is not possible. This is usually where families have relocated, lost touch or where there are family disputes. In these cases you may not be able to transfer the ownership.

Do I need a copy of the original deed?

No. In most cases these are mislaid. Once a transfer is complete we will send a confirmation letter to the new owner/s. We also update our computer database and registers where appropriate.

Can I have a new deed?

No. We are unable to issue new deeds to existing graves or duplicates.

Does a transfer affect the lease term of the deed?

No. The length of the lease of the grave does not change when the grave is transferred.