Urgent Telephone Weekends : 01233 331111

Grave Ownership And Transferring Ownership

Exclusive Rights of Burial

When you purchase a grave at one of our cemeteries, you will also purchase the Exclusive Rights of Burial. This will be on a leasehold basis, for an initial period of 30 years.

This can be renewed by a further five years at a time for up to an additional 30 years. This gives the owner the right to be buried or gives permission to anyone to be buried within that grave during that period (provided there is space to do so).

The owner must also provide permission for any memorial to be placed onto that grave. They are responsible for the upkeep of the plot as per our rules and regulations. We currently allow for up to four owners of a grave.

If you would like to purchase a grave within our cemeteries please complete a grave purchase form.

Transfer of grave ownership

Owner(s) can transfer ownership jointly or solely to another person(s) whilst they are alive. The current owner(s) need to sign a Deed of Assignment form that would allow these rights to be transferred.

If the grave is no longer required and is unused, it can be surrendered to Ashford Borough Council. You can do this by completing a deed of surrender. A refund will be based on how long the grave has been owned for. There will be an additional administration fee of £10.00.

For example, for a 30 year term with 27 years remaining, the refund would be 90% of the original fee paid minus the £10 administration charge.

If you have reserved a plot by paying a reservation fee, this is non-refundable.

Transfer of grave ownership when the owner is deceased

Without a living grave owner we are unable to conduct further burials in the grave space or make any changes to memorials. If the grave owner is deceased we will have to organise for a transfer to take place. Depending on circumstances the route of transfer differs.

Grant of probate with will

If the deceased grave owner made a valid will that requires a Grant of Probate, ownership will be transferred to the executor(s). The hologram original of Grant of Probate will need to be seen in order to proceed.

If the deceased grave owner made a valid will that was not of sufficient value for a Grant of Probate, ownership will be transferred to the executor(s) of the will. However, this will only occur after signing a Statutory Declaration that we will provide.

The executor(s) are then responsible for identifying who should be the rightful owner of the grave and can complete a Deed of Assent. This will transfer ownership to another person(s).

Letters of administration with no will

If there is no valid will, ownership of the grave can be transferred to a personal representative of the deceased detailed on the letters of administration. The representative of the deceased will need to identify the rightful owner and can then complete a Deed of Assent. This will transfer ownership to another person(s).

No will

If there is no will and no letters of administration, the transfer of ownership then falls to the next of kin of the deceased.

We will need to establish who the direct next of kin is/are so that a Statutory Declaration can be drawn up indicating who has the legal rights to ownership. This document would need to be signed in the presence of a Magistrate or Commissioner of Oaths. Some next of kin (for example, when there are many siblings) may not wish to become owners of the grave and can renounce their rights at this stage.

Should you have any questions relating to the ownership of a grave or the transfer of ownership, please email the cemeteries office.

Please note:

  • we need to see original probate, letters of administration and will documents to make a transfer;
  • a transfer administration fee is required;
  • we cannot transfer any graves where ownership is not clear;
  • as we only allow four grave owners, other beneficiaries may need to renounce their rights to ownership.

Extending/renewing the Exclusive Right of Burial

The exclusive right to bury can be extended or renewed for up to 30 years. This extension can only take place when the deed is nearing its expiration. Please contact the cemeteries office if you are unsure of the expiry date of your plot.

A renewal/extension form will need to be completed and the relevant fee paid. A full 30 years can be repurchased or any number of years in multiples of 5, such as 15 years.

If the original owner is deceased, those entitled as either executor of probate/will/letters of administration, or next of kin, can extend the rights themselves. Proof of entitlement, an additional fee and paperwork for a transfer of ownership will be required.

If the lease is renewed, this may be on the condition that any memorial receives a full inspection and stability test and any defects repaired. We will also require that any renewed plots adhere to our current rules and regulations.

If the grave owner does not renew the lease or does not contact the office before the rights expire, the ownership of the plot will revert to the Council. No further interments or memorial applications will be granted without a repurchase of the rights of burial. The cemeteries office will endeavour to contact all owners via the address details on our records and also by adding a physical note to the plot.

For awareness, the Council reserves the right to remove any memorial from an expired plot after giving a set period of notice for you to remove yourself, using a registered stonemason. The council can also resell unused plots where the Exclusive Right to Burial has expired.