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Terry Knowles of the State AG's office has suggested that all deeds should specify the terms and conditions that apply when a deed is to be returned to the cemetery, the refund in particular. When perpetual care has been bundled into the original price, the refund may not be a simple exchange of money for paper.

Deeds should also require that any transfer go through the cemetery to be valid. Otherwise, the cemetery will loose track of ownership. You can require proof of ownership before allowing a burial, but sooner or later grace will mandate this requirement be waived.

You might consider requiring the person requesting the burial to warrant that they have the legal right to do so.


[The following text is from an informal note from Terry Knowles, the Registrar of Charitable Trusts in the Office of the Attourney General.]

The right-to-inter, rather than the issuance of a cemetery deed, is somewhat common outside the State of NH. Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Illinois are five states which specifically discuss the right to inter in their state laws. Iowa especially has a law (Iowa Code Annotated 566A.2B) which sets out 14 specific elements which must appear in an Agreement for Interment Rights including identity of the seller and purchaser, the specific interment rights to be provided, the total purchase price, the amount of perpetual care, an explanation of what the perpetual care buys, any additional fees that may be charged, and how the right to inter may be transferred to another party. In New York City, because of the lack of available cemetery land, the right to inter is often revocable after a stated period of years, that is, when a cemetery becomes full the right to inter lapses after a period of time and the lot may be resold with a new casket being placed on top of the remains of another casket.

We still have plenty of land in NH, and the right to inter has become more popular here due in large part to the increase in "gravesite decoration" which has taken place over the past few years. When an individual receives a deed to a parcel of property he or she often assumes they have purchased the entire bundle of rights which come with the purchase of any parcel of property --- including the right to install bird feeders, benches, wind chimes, etc. Although the Boca Raton case (Warner v. City of Boca Raton, 64F.Supp.2d 1272 (1999) permits municipalities to enforce regulations when it comes to the removal of these items, in reality it is often difficult and unpleasant to do so. On the other hand when a town or city issues a right to inter, which spells out in detail exactly what the purchaser is receiving, the sense of "ownership" is diminished. The legal title to the underlying property remains with the town or city, making enforcement of rules and regulations much easier.

Cremation Areas, Sections and Gardens

The larger cemeteries have for some time been dedicating areas exclusively to burials of cremation remains. Some small cemeteries are considering doing the same.

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