Who will inherit your cemetery plot?

I thought this would be a straight forward answer, but apparently not.

I am sharing a story from one of my clients. I hope I can explain clearly so you can follow along.

The problem surfaced when my client was arranging to have her mother’s cremated remains buried in the family burial plot. When she inquired, she was advised there is “no more room”. The plot that was supposed to be for her had been used for someone else.

Here is the history of the situation based on what I know.

Back in the 1970s, her grandfather had remarried and his Will named his second wife as executor and inheriting everything. So the three burial plots which were to be for grandmother (who predeceased grandfather in the 1970s), grandfather (died many years ago) and mother (my client’s mother who died early 2015 and was an only child).

When the grandfather remarried and his last Will named his new wife as executor and left everything to his new wife, she now became the “owner” of the burial plots. Instead of leaving the vacant third plot for my client’s mother, the new wife used the plot to bury the remains of her dear old aunt. When the second wife dies, her body was cremated and her urn was buried beside her aunt.

So now the three plots contain the remains of grandmother, grandfather, second wife’s aunt, and second wife. There is no more room for any more according to the Cemetery.

The cremated remains of my client’s mother will not be allowed to be buried there.

So the moral of the story is if you have prepaid burial plots, make sure you know what will happen to them when you die. Especially if you are in a second relationship. Make sure you talk to your lawyer about how to properly document the ownership of any burial plots, and how they will be passed on to your family members.

This autumn I will continue to have my “Death Cafe” on a regular basis. If you are interested in attending, let me know by email or phone and I will have you on the contact list so we will advise you as the dates are scheduled. Death Cafe is an informal gathering of people to discuss many topics related to the end of life. We had one in August attended by about 12 people and the topics included executor, power of attorney, funeral planning, hospice and palliative care, personal care homes, allowing natural death and more.

This fall I will also offer Estate Planning workshops for those who need the nudge to get their affairs in order so they can go on with life. This will be for individuals or couples who need to get their Wills done and the other important documents (power of attorney, health care directive, living will) and start the funeral planning including an obituary. No one is too young to get their Estate Planning in order. If you are interested, let me know.

And finally I want to introduce a new service: Snowbird Mail Service. If you no longer want to have your mail pile up or redirected to your Winter residence, I will now provide a weekly mail pick up service and can start your tax return before you even get back to Manitoba in the Spring. Contact me for more information.

Anni Markmann is a financial advisor who specializes in personal taxes and estate planning. She works, lives, and volunteers in our community. Contact Anni at 204-422-6631 or anni@steannetaxservice.ca or 36 Dawson Road in Ste Anne (near the Co-op).