Buying a burial plot is usually a simple business. But there are a few surprising details you need to know. Here’s the lowdown on burial plots, prices, and that mysterious term, ‘Exclusive Right of Burial’.


What is a burial plot?

A burial plot is a small area of land on which someone is — or can be — buried. It can hold just one person or a few, like a couple or a family. Typically, you don’t actually purchase a burial plot as a piece of land. Instead, you buy the right to decide who is buried on that land for a certain number of years. It’s more like a lease.


What is Exclusive Right of Burial?

Having the Exclusive Right of Burial means that you have the right to say who is buried in a particular burial plot. You can also place a memorial (like a headstone) on the grave.

Getting a Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial isn’t the same as buying a plot of land for burial. It doesn’t mean you own the land. It’s closer to renting. And, like renting, it has a time limit.


How long does the Exclusive Right of Burial last?

Cemeteries usually offer Exclusive Right of Burial for a grave plot for 25 to 100 years. Once that expires, they’ll ask the owner of the Grant if they’d like to renew.


How buying a burial plot works

Cemeteries are usually owned by the local authority or by a religious organisation (like a church). But there are privately owned burial grounds too.

If someone has just died, your funeral director will buy the cemetery plot or woodland burial plot on your behalf. If you’re buying a burial plot in advance (not a bad idea), you can contact the owner directly.

A burial plot isn’t usually guaranteed in a funeral plan, as it’s a third-party service and prices change. Instead, a pot of money is usually set aside to put towards one when the time comes. You could purchase a burial plot separately to be safe.

If you’ve bought a burial plot for yourself, it’s a good idea to mention it as an asset in your will. You should also make sure your family know where to find the Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial.


How much does a burial plot cost?

The average cost of a burial plot in the UK is £1,857. But fees vary a lot across the country. In rural areas, burial plot prices can be just a few hundred pounds. In cities, they can be in the thousands.

The grave plot cost can also depend on whether you’re local or not. You can save hundreds of pounds by choosing a cemetery in your area.

On a budget? As well as the average price of a burial plot, it’s worth considering the cost of a headstone or memorial plaque too. They can be between £800 and £5,000. Find out more about burial costs here.


What happens when your Exclusive Right of Burial runs out?

If you don’t renew, the person who has been buried in the plot can still stay there. No one will move their body. But other people may be buried around or on top of them at a later date.

If there’s a memorial on the grave, you can pick it up and take it somewhere else. Otherwise, the cemetery or burial ground can destroy it.


How to transfer or share the Exclusive Right of Burial for a plot

If you have Exclusive Right of Burial for a plot, you get to decide who is buried there for as long as the lease lasts. You don’t have to be buried there yourself.

If you like, you can ask the cemetery or burial ground to make you and someone else joint owners of the plot. This means that you both have an equal right to choose who is buried there, and can both be buried there yourselves when you die (in the far-off future, we hope).

You can also pass on your Exclusive Right of Burial when making your will.

If you die without a will, ownership will automatically pass to your next of kin. This is usually your spouse / civil partner, or shared between your children if you’re unattached. If this means the plot is shared between too many people, it can be awkward, as everyone has to agree before someone can be buried in the plot. So, it’s a good idea to make a will and clear things up.


What is a woodland burial plot?

A woodland burial plot is an area of land in a woodland or natural wild setting where someone can be buried.

Woodland burial plots are dedicated to environmentally friendly farewells. The person who has died is buried wearing natural, biodegradable fabrics and in an eco-friendly coffin. Embalming is usually forbidden.

Many woodland burial grounds don’t allow memorial stones. However, you may be able to plant a tree or put up a bird box to mark the spot.

The average cost of a woodland burial plot is around £700, but they can be up to £6,000 depending on the burial ground.


Things to think about when buying a burial plot

What should you consider before you buy a grave plot? Well…

  • Cemetery or woodland burial ground? A woodland burial ground is more eco-friendly and less expensive. But a cemetery allows you a memorial and will likely be closer to your home.
  • Location, location. Visit the prospective cemetery or burial ground ahead of time and get a feel for the place. It should be both convenient and somewhere you’re happy to visit.
  • Compare costs. Cemetery and burial ground fees vary quite a bit! And often, they offer different kinds of grave plots for sale at different prices too. Mausoleum chambers are most expensive.
  • Who will be buried there? If you’d like more than one person to be buried in the plot, make sure there will be space. You can buy two plots side by side if not. A single plot might have room for up to three people or up to six urns of ashes.
  • Cremation first? In some cemeteries, you can buy a smaller burial plot just for cremated remains. These are less expensive than plots for caskets. Find out more about burying ashes here.


Any questions about buying a burial plot?

Your local funeral director will be happy to help. Click here to find a great funeral home near you.

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