Grave Ownership and Transfers

Advice and information on transferring grave and ashes plot ownership

 Exclusive Rights of Burial

When buying a grave, the Exclusive Rights of Burial are being purchased for an initial period of 50 or 75 years (which may be renewed at any time). The Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial does not specify the number of burials that can be accommodated in one grave space. This will be dependant on a number of factors including the size of coffin/caskets interred in the grave and the ground conditions at the time of excavation. We will always do our best to accommodate your requests.

The Exclusive Right of Burial entitles the owner to determine who may be buried in the grave. It does not give any form of ownership over the land nor entitle the person automatic rights to erect any form of memorial or plant the plot out with flowers or shrubs. The land itself remains the property of the Doncaster Borough Council.

For the Council to recognise and register the details of the current owner any transfer of ownership must be notified and evidenced to the Council. Possession of the grave deeds does not necessarily infer that the holder is entitled to the deeds and does not guarantee that the Council will permit any further burials or the erection of any memorial on a grave.


For any memorial, a permit for the erection of a memorial must be sought from the Council. Where permission for the erection of a memorial has been taken place, the registered owner is fully responsible for its maintenance, upkeep and safety.

 Transfer of Grave Rights

The Exclusive Rights of Burial may be transferred by the owner to another person for the remaining term of the period that the Right was granted for. The living owner must be aware the transfer of their rights means they do not have an automatic right to be buried in the plot themselves upon their death. If the living owner of the Exclusive Rights of Burial wishes to transfer the Rights to another person a Form of Assignment must be completed.

If a grave owners passes away without arranging for the transfer of deeds, this can give rise to problems when descendants wish to use the grave. The Council is unable to simply grant further burials upon request and must be satisfied that any person claiming ownership of the grave is legally entitled to it. It is therefore important that any transfer of ownership is notified and evidenced to the Council at the earliest opportunity.

Where there is uncertainty about the grave ownership, the Council recommends that you resolve this as soon as possible to avoid the distress of trying to sort out any problems at short notice and before a funeral.

Before proceeding with any arrangements, or making any decisions please view our Flow Chart to explain the transfer procedure.

If the original owner is deceased and left a valid Will and Estate of a value that requires Grant of Probate, ownership can be transferred by the Executor to the rightful owners under the will i.e. the Beneficiaries on production of the Grant of Probate. The Executors are then responsible for identifying the rightful owner and complete the transfer by a Form of Assent.

If the original owner has died without a will (otherwise known as intestate), then Letters of Administration may be obtained and ownership can be transferred to rightful owner by the administrator. The rightful owner is determined by legislation (known as the Rules of Intestate).

The Executors/Administrators are responsible for identifying the rightful owner and completing the transfer by a Form of Assent

If there is no Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, for example where the estate is of insufficient value to merit application, it will be necessary for a legally binding Statutory Declaration to be drawn up as explained below.

In all cases there can be a maximum of two owners per grave. Other beneficiaries must sign a Form of Renunciation  to relinquish their rights to ownership.

Please note we strongly recommend that parties seek independent legal advice when dealing with a deceased estate.

 Statutory Declaration

This is a legal document produced by the Cemeteries Office, which must then be signed in the presence of a Magistrate or Commissioner for Oaths.

The Statutory Declaration will be prepared by Bereavement Service and will clearly set out the facts regarding the original purchase of the Exclusive Rights of Burial, the death of the registered owner, intestate or otherwise and the relationship between the deceased and the rightful owner to the who is entitled to the Exclusive Rights for the remaining period. There is a charge for this.

The Statutory Declaration will set out the facts regarding the original purchase of the Exclusive Rights, the death of the registered owner, intestate or otherwise and the relationship of the applicant to the registered owner. The original Deed or Grant should accompany the Declaration, if available.  A form of Renunciation must be completed by all other next of kin of the deceased owner, and attached to the Declaration. The Council may ask for a certified copy of the owner’s death certificate in certain situations.

 Family Disputes

The Council cannot become involved where there is a family dispute over any ownership or where there is a stalemate and relevant consents are withheld. The various next of kin should endeavour to reach some form of agreement between themselves or, if that fails, seek independent legal advice. Until such problems are resolved, the Council may not register any transfer of ownership of the Grave Deed.

Last updated: 22 June 2022 11:53:57