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Divorce & Your Cemetery Plots

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in how Americans conceptualize death and divorce. Instead of overlooking these uncomfortable topics, people of all ages and cultures are embracing the reality that relationships and financial circumstances inevitably change over time. This isn’t pessimism, but an acknowledgement that while it’s impossible to predict the future, you can still prepare for it. For this reason, a record number of couples are signing prenuptial agreements and pre-purchasing cemetery property. If you’re facing a worst-case scenario, these contracts can protect your assets and expedite two extremely challenging – and costly – legal processes.

But what happens if you get a divorce and co-purchased a cemetery plot with your spouse?

One Thing Leads to Another

Most funeral homes and cemeteries offer cost-effective cremation and burial packages that can be paid off in monthly or quarterly installments. By making “pre-need” arrangements in advance, you can save your family both money and stress while ensuring that your final wishes are respected. Most importantly, it allows you to purchase property at today’s prices, effectively protecting your loved ones from dealing with price inflation and “at-need” costs down the road.

Unfortunately, many couples with cemetery contracts find themselves at a loss once they’ve decided to file for divorce. If they’re lucky, they purchased the spaces under one name (which is rare) or drafted a prenuptial agreement that addresses the cemetery plots.

Fortunately, couples have a few options even if they don’t have a prenuptial agreement prepared:

  1. They can negotiate which spouse will sign over their rights
  2. They can sell the property through a plot broker
  3. They can post an ad online
  4. They can sign the property over to their children
  5. They can donate the property to a church
  6. They can offer the property to someone in need

It’s important to contact the cemetery before you decide to utilize any of these options. A knowledgeable cemetery employee can listen to your circumstances and advise you about any pertinent state and federal laws. Plus, once you’ve decided to relinquish your property rights, you’ll need to work with the cemetery employee to initiate a deed transfer. Unfortunately, most cemeteries won’t buy plots back unless they have very low inventory – and even that’s unlikely due to business interests and liability issues.

Have Questions? Contact an Attorney Today!

Contact the West Des Moines property division lawyers at The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw if you’re planning to file for divorce, have questions about asset division, or are struggling to successfully negotiate a marital settlement agreement. We can represent your interests and help you resolve any disputes before your case becomes a high-conflict affair.

Call The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw at (515) 200-7571 to schedule a free consultation.

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