(WSVN) - You own a couple of cemetery plots along with the vaults and a headstone, but when you try to sell it all, the cemetery says no. Can you be blocked from selling your own property? It’s why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
When Ana was younger, she was smart enough to look ahead.
Ana Alvarez: “Planning, planning ahead in case we ever need it.”
Back in 2010, she and her partner decided to take care of something many people don’t want to talk about: a cemetery plot.
Ana Alvarez: “And we bought it in case something would happen to us. Our children would have a place to bury us.”
They bought two cemetery plots at a Kendall cemetery from a person that included two burial vaults and a headstone.
Ana Alvarez: “I paid about $4,000.”
Of course, things change in life, and Ana decided she no longer wanted to be buried.
Ana Alvarez: “I would like to be cremated. I don’t have any use right now for them.”
So Ana listed her two plots with vaults and a stone.
Little did she know she had unearthed a problem.
Ana Alvarez: “When I put it up for sale, different brokers reached out to me, and they told me that I was only able to sell my land.”
Ana was surprised, so she asked the people at Woodlawn South Cemetery in Kendall what would happen to her vaults and headstone.
Ana Alvarez: “They would be delivered to my house.”
Patrick Fraser: “Looks like something out of a ‘Halloween’ movie where it’s sitting in your front yard.”
Ana Alvarez: “Correct.”
Ana argued she bought the package from a private owner in 2010, so why couldn’t she sell it all to someone in 2023?
Ana Alvarez: “According to them, it changed in June of 2022.”
But in the 2022 case, the judge didn’t make a final decision, so Ana said fine, and told the cemetery to bring the vault and stone to her house.
Ana Alvarez: “They have not responded. I wrote to them, and they have not responded.”
Patrick Fraser: “Did you try calling?”
Ana Alvarez: “Yes. They told me I had to send a letter.”
It’s not a life-and-death question, Howard, but can a private business block you from selling your plots, vaults and stone together?”
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “No. The legislature passed a law regarding this, and in my opinion, the owners can sell the plots, called burial rights, the vaults and headstone together. But some cemeteries are taking the position that the vaults and headstones can be treated differently, and so they are blocking the owners from selling them as a package. The Legislature needs to clear up the law, or if someone sues, a judge will probably rule for the plot owners.”
We contacted the cemetery. In a statement, they wrote the cemetery is “not responsible to refund merchandise,” adding, “We are more that happy to deliver the merchandise that was purchased.”
When we told them Ana didn’t want a refund, just to sell the package, the cemetery responded, “We stand by our statement.”
The state’s Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services investigated Woodlawn South and concluded no violations were found.
Ana Alvarez: “My hands are tied right now.”
Or are they? Howard, can Ana sell the plot to someone and have the vaults and headstone delivered to that person to use when they pass away?
Howard Finkelstein: “Absolutely. It’s her property, and she can do that.”
Meaning, Ana can now move forward.
Ana Alvarez: “I’m willing to sell it right now, and I could sell the vaults as well. They could give me a call.”
If you want to plan ahead and buy the plot’s vaults and headstones from Ana, give us a call and we will put you in touch with her.
And, after looking into cemetery law, the only thing clear is that the law is not clear. You can see a lawsuit coming.
Buried in problems? Ready to dig your way out? Call us, and we’ll open our legal vault to find an answer.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org
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