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Grave ownership

If you choose to buy a grave following a bereavement, you must make certain decisions. It’s important to understand how these affect the use of a grave.

When a grave has been bought, a Deed of Grant is issued and the name of the registered grave owner is recorded in the statutory register as the person owning burial rights.

The grave deed grants the owner the exclusive rights to a grave for 50 years. No ownership of land is granted and the land remains our property. The deed grants the owner the right to:

  • be buried in a designated grave if space is available (includes cremated remains)
  • authorise further burials in the grave where space is available (includes cremated remains)
  • apply for a permit to place an inscribed memorial on the grave or give permission for an additional inscription to be added.

The grave deed is an important document and must be produced in the event of any future burial in the grave. 

The owner must give permission for any burials in, or memorials placed on, the grave. If there is no living owner, we will need to establish who is legally entitled to the grave, and the 'transfer of ownership' must be completed before a burial can go ahead.

Why have I only been sold the grave for a set period of time?

Unfortunately, the law says that graves cannot be sold for more than 100 years. However, the law does allow grant of ownership to be extended and we write to owners offering the opportunity to renew the right at the end of the current lease.

I own the grave - can anyone else be buried in it if I don't want them to?

No. Graves cannot be opened without written permission of the registered owner of the grave. The only exception is where the burial is that of the registered owner in which case no written authority is required. The law protects your rights as the registered owner of the grave.

I am told the grave is for two people - there is only one person in the grave and I want two more burials to take place in the grave

When a grave is purchased to take two full body burials, the depth the grave is excavated to for the first burial must take into account the need for the second burial. There are legal requirements as to how much earth must be left on top of the last coffin, and it is not physically possible to put an extra coffin into the grave without breaking the law. After the grave is full for coffined burial cremated remains caskets or urns can still be buried in the grave.

What happens when the lease expires?

We will write to the registered owner at the end of the lease to give them the option to renew for a further period. It is important you let us know if you change address or you may not receive a notice of renewal.

How do I transfer grave ownership or what happens when the grave owner has died?

A living grave owner may transfer the ownership of the grave rights by contacting Bereavement Services who will arrange the legal transfer of the deed. A fee is payable for this.

When the grave owner dies, the grave ownership can be transferred via their estate. The means of transfer can be very complex and while there is a legal procedure to follow, each case must be looked at individually. If you need to transfer ownership when the owner has died you will need to contact Bereavement Services who will arrange for the transfer. Please see our guide on grave ownership and deed transferral or contact us for further details.

I have misplaced my grave deed. What should I do?

If you lose or misplace your grave deeds you should inform Bereavement Services.

Elsewhere on the web

The Probate Service

To get a copy of a will, Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration visit the HM Courts Service website which is linked at the top of this page. There is a small fee and any cheques should be payable to HMCS. A copy is usually provided within 21 days. The full name of the deceased, date of birth and last known address must be provided.

The National Archives

If you need to find out if a will was made before 1858, or need to obtain a death certificate from 1837 onwards, you can contact the National Archives at Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU. Tel: 020 8876 3444 or visit National Archives which is linked at the top of this page.

The Register Office

If the death was within the last 18 months, you can ask for a copy of the death certificate from the register office for the area in which the death occurred. Please see our 'Register a death' section which is linked below:

Register a death

Contact us

Write to us: Bereavement Services, Leicester City Council, Gilroes Crematorium, Groby Road, LE3 9QG
Ring us on: 0116 373 7327
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