CEMETERY LANDS

Insurability of Individual Burial Plots. So-called “deeds” from cemetery associations do not convey fee title. Rather, they convey easement rights to burial for so long as the land is used as a cemetery. Messina v. LaRosa, 337 Mass. 438, 150 N.E.2d 5 (1958). Therefore, no title will be insured to individual burial plots. The dear departed will have to go to the afterworld without the comfort of a title insurance policy.

Insurability of Cemeteries. When asked to insure an entire cemetery, please contact the local office. You should make certain that the owners still have an interest in the real estate and have not deeded their rights to an association of plot owners. Assuming the land is insurable, the following exception must be added to Schedule B of the policy:

Rights and claims of others under recorded and unrecorded instruments, including executory contracts, in and to any burial plots or sites.

Insurability of Land Containing Burial Grounds. Insuring individual burial plots or entire cemeteries is distinguishable from a request to insure land on which burial grounds are located. It is important to exercise caution when dealing with land on which burial grounds or family tombstones appear to be located, even if a very small portion of the parcel is devoted to burial ground purposes. See Sanford v. Vinal, 28 Mass. App. Ct. 476, 552 N.E.2d 579 (1990)(although the right may be lost over time, individuals are entitled to protect the graves of ancestors from desecration). If any plan or document, or a physical inspection of the premises, indicates any evidence of a burial ground or family tombstones, please contact the local office to determine whether the property can be insured. If the property is insurable, the following exception must be added to Schedule B: 

Rights of others in and to the burial area located on the __________ portion of the insured premises.

Law of Cemeteries Generally. For statutory provisions relating to the law of cemeteries generally, see Mass. Gen. L. c. 114.