Cemetery property is governed by special and restrictive state statutes or common law. Cemetery law intends to protect, through rather intricate restrictions and dispositions, against subsequent changes or disturbance in the use of dedicated cemetery property.
If a piece of land is dedicated or established for cemetery purposes in accordance with common law or statutory procedure, it will remain perpetually devoted to cemetery purposes until removed by statutory procedures or by judicial proceedings.
The act of dedication has a significant effect upon the rights of the present owners, and also upon the possible rights of subsequent purchasers, mortgagees, and claimants.
State law must be carefully researched and considered in connection with any request to insure cemetery property. Any request to insure cemetery property must be approved by Texas Underwriting Counsel.
See also Texas Bulletin TX2015004 – LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 2015 Amends the Health and Safety Code by adding Sec. 712.020 and 712.0255 relating to the modificaton or termination of the fund for perpetual care cemetaries
Insurance of Cemetery Lands
Proposed Cemeteries (See TX Health and Safety Code Sec. 711.008)
Prior to the dedication or establishment of the land as a cemetery, title to the property can be insured without any additional requirement or exception. Obviously, the policy will have to be dated prior to the commencement of any dedication.
Existing Dedicated Cemeteries
State law must be scrutinized in order to determine requirements for sale, mortgage, lease, or encumbrance of lands dedicated for cemetery purposes by the appropriate state agency, if any.
In numerous states, cemetery properties cannot be mortgaged, and in many others, statutory or case law is generally adverse to their sale or mortgage, or the whole matter is left in a generally unsettled condition.
If authorized by statutes, the insurance of the sale mortgage, lease, or encumbrance of any existing dedicated cemetery property must contain the following specific exceptions:
- Rights, interests, and easements of any and all persons who have purchased
burial lots or parts thereof located in the premises in question.
- Easements for driveways, alleys, walks, and other ways upon and over the
premises in question or any part thereof.
- Statutory rights and powers of the State of Texas and of the county and
municipality to regulate and control the use of the premises in question as
a cemetery and also to regulate and control the interment or removal of dead
bodies in or from the premises in question or any building located thereon.
- Legal limitations imposed by the laws of the State of Texas in connection with land dedicated for cemetery purposes.
Insurance of Cemetery Space or Plot
The Company MUST DECLINE any request for the Insurance of a cemetery space or plot.
The purchaser of a cemetery lot, notwithstanding the form of deed or language of the certificate of burial, sepulcher or interment thereof, does not acquire a fee title, but only an exclusive privilege, easement, or license to burial in the lot, subject to all regulations governing the cemetery and the other lots.
Abandonment - Reversion
(See TX Health and Safety Code Sec. 711.010)
Statutory procedures in connection with the abandonment of cemetery property are extremely complex and in this respect, state law must be fully scrutinized. Abandonment, in cemetery law, does not encompass the total and complete disinterment of all the bodies previously interred therein. Additionally, reversionary rights are not always contemplated or considered under state law.
Any request to insure abandoned cemetery property must be referred to Texas Underwriting Counsel before issuing any title commitment or title policy.
(See also TX Health and Safety Code Sec. 711.011 and 714.003)