Transfer of grave ownership

When considering transferring ownership of a grave, it is important to be aware that it is against the law to open a grave for burial including a burial of cremated remains or to place cremated remains upon the surface of a grave without the written permission of the registered owner, unless the burial is for that of the grave owner. Where the owner has previously been buried, then without exception a new owner must first be registered to re-open a grave for burial or place a memorial or additional inscription upon a memorial.

The following documents may be required for the transfer of the ownership:

  • Grant of Probate
  • Grant of Letters of Administration
  • The Will if Probate not obtained.

Once the Exclusive Right of Burial has been purchased it becomes part of the registered owner’s property.

When do you need to transfer ownership of the Exclusive Right of Burial?

In the following circumstances transfer of the ownership will be required:

  • The registered owner decides to assign the grave to someone else
  • An application is made for a burial in the grave but the registered owner is previously deceased
  • An application to place a memorial/additional inscription on the grave is made but the registered owner is previously deceased
  • If the registered owner has recently died, this makes future arrangements easier if there is a living registered owner.

How to transfer the ownership of the Exclusive Right of Burial

The Council must obey the law relating to ownership of graves and burials. Where the registered owner is alive the transfer will be a straightforward process. The registered owner, naming the new owner, will complete a Form of Assignment which can be supplied by the Council.

Where the registered owner has died the rights form part of the residual estate. It will be necessary to establish who has the legal right to deal with the estate. This will normally be:

  • The executor(s) if the registered owner died leaving a Will
  • The Administrator(s) appointed if Letters of Administration were obtained
  • The next of kin if there are no executors or administrators.
  • If the registered owner died recently it should be fairly easy to identify who has legal rights to deal with the estate. However if the registered owner died some time ago greater research may be needed.

Obtaining the information required

You will need to find out if a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration exists and obtain a copy. If you are unsure then you will need to contact the Family Records Centre. Records of Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration are held there and copies can be purchased.

If a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration have not been raised then a Statutory Declaration will be required, together with a Will. If probate was not obtained and there is no Will, a Statutory Declaration can still be made. The Statutory Declaration requires details of all next of kin. If tracing the next of kin proves difficult you may wish to contact the General Register Office Traceline Team on 0151 471 4811.

We recognise that getting this information together may be difficult and we will do all we can to try to help whilst ensuring all the legal requirements are met.