Q&A with Loraine: Selling Unneeded Cemetery Plots

Question: I want to sell my grandparents’ extra cemetery plots as no one else in my family will use them.

Background: My grandparents bought four plots and they occupy two of the four. No one else in the family is interested in using the plots and I would like to sell them. The only descendants are myself, my brother and two cousins. All of them agree that a sale is a good idea.

Loraine’s Answer:
In Georgia, cemetery plots pass via inheritance as if the owner had no Will, even if there is a Will. If there is an organization that manages the cemetery, you should contact them for help in figuring out how you can determine who currently holds the rights to the plots and what you need to do in order to get ownership of those plots correctly documented. After that issue has been addressed, the owners can attempt to sell the plots. If there is no organization managing the cemetery, then you may need to have a probate attorney help your family determine ownership of the plots and how to make sure that the owner has clear title so they can be sold.

Best wishes to you and good luck finding a buyer. I have three plots myself that I’ve been trying to sell for more than five years with no luck.

Key Estate Planning Takeaway: Cemetery plots do not transfer to new owners the way most other interests in real estate do, and title to them can often be murky. In addition, the growing popularity of cremation and “green” burials means that the demand for traditional cemetery plots has decreased. If your family owns plots that are not likely to be used and wants to sell them, you should be aware that an extended period of time may needed in order to clear the ownership of the plots and then find buyers. The first place to begin is to work with the company that owns or manages the cemetery, who can generally help you navigate the process of preparing to sell the unneeded plots and figuring out who has the right to carry out the sales.

This “Q&A with Loraine” blog series features answers from Morgan + DiSalvo Partner Loraine DiSalvo to questions posted on www.avvo.com. A key takeaway from each exchange highlights an important facet of estate planning.

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