Establishing a family cemetery requires stringent work to conform with local and state regulations. For example, you will need to have your land surveyed to make sure your family plot is on your own property, not straddling other people's land or located too close to their homes. Setting up a nonprofit corporation to oversee the cemetery can protect against the sale or misuse of the land by any one family member.
Check with your local property assessor's office concerning the land you plan to use for your family cemetery. The assessor will be able to tell you whether the property is in a flood plain or if other problems could prevent the creation of a cemetery. These could include drainage issues, underground cables or deed restrictions.
Check with your state's commerce department or department of state to see if a license or certificate is required to operate a family cemetery. Most states don't require one. State regulations may determine how close a graveyard can be to a home. In New York, a cemetery can't be within 1,650 feet of a house without the homeowner's consent, according to the New York Department of State.
File a survey with your county clerk's office showing the location of your family plot. This will allow others to find the cemetery. File a record of each grave location with the clerk.
Ask the county clerk's office whether a burial permit is required to bury someone in a family plot.
- The old saying about being buried 6 feet under may not apply. In Texas, a body must be buried so the top of the casket or vault is no less than 2 feet below the ground's surface if the burial container is made of impermeable material.
- Appoint someone in the family to keep the burial records updated.
- Set up a trust fund for future costs of maintaining the cemetery.
- If the property is sold, make sure the contract includes a provision allowing your family members the right to access the cemetery.
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