How Do I Start a Family Cemetery

By Linda Woolhether ; Updated June 05, 2017
Father and daughter holding hands at cemetery

Laws governing the establishment of family cemeteries vary from state to state. Individual counties within some states have their own rules regulating family cemeteries on private land. The primary reason people choose for burial on family-owned land is the deep spiritual connection they feel toward the property. Anyone considering starting a family cemetery on their private property must research the state, county or city laws and requirements before pursueing the project.

Select a portion of your property that is appropriate for a family cemetery. Contact your local county or city government regarding rules governing your particular property. Some states require that you perform a survey of your selected location. Anyone can do the survey, including you. There is no need to use a professional surveyor. Place a fence around the cemetery to designate its exact location.

Research the state requirements regarding required distance from populated areas. Municipality boundaries vary according to the population. If you live near a town with a population exceeding 200,000, your land must be at least 4 miles outside the city limits to establish a family cemetery. File your completed survey with your local county clerk designating the exact location of the cemetery plot. Texas requires you to file a Certificate of Dedication of land as well. You must include a map to the plot with the filing along with the exact planned lay out of the cemetery.

Observe easement and zoning laws and familiarize yourself with health and safety regulations. Comply with any regulations regarding the depth of graves. Most laws governing burials require placing the casket containing the body no less than two feet below the surface of the ground. Choose a casket constructed of impermeable materials to prevent possible soil contamination from leakage.

Establish a plan to keep good records of all internments along with dates and exact location of the graves. File these completed forms and all burial records with the county clerk. You must file a separate deed for the cemetery if you sell your property.

About the Author

Linda Woolhether is a retired teacher born in Texas, but now resides in Wyoming. Her career as a reading and writing teacher spanned 20-plus years. She holds a Master of Arts in education in curriculum and instruction and is experienced in various types of writing. She was successful in writing several educational grants while teaching. Completing a novel is presently her goal.