A friend recently discovered that her mother’s burial plot, purchased 40 years ago, was already occupied. Her mom is still alive and well and it was just by chance that her brother, paying respects to other family members, learned there was a double booking. A little digging revealed that this was not an isolated event, a second plot in the cemetery was planted with someone other than the original owner the very same week.
It got me thinking about burial, the cost of end of life and wondering if pre-planning a funeral is worth the trouble if this kind of thing can happen. Not only is it upsetting to think someone else’s remains were placed in your plot and now must be moved, but it leaves you questioning the whole business. How often does this kind of thing happen? What are the laws to protect your final resting place?
In Canada, burial laws vary by province or territory. Contrary to popular belief, one does not own the plot of land but rather has bought internment rights to be buried in a specific spot. Written permission must be given for the rights to be transferred and the re-sale of internment rights is governed by the each province’s laws.
The cost of plots, especially in larger cities, can be in the thousands. An ocean view plot in Vancouver was recently listed on kijiji.ca for $46,000! And that’s just the beginning of the funeral costs. Funerals are big business and with the growing aging population it may a good time to weigh the benefits of funeral preplanning.
In my friend’s case, the plot was recovered and the situation rectified but the other family had to move their loved-one after having already said goodbye. It’s a not something you should have to deal with while grieving the loss of a family member. If you have purchased a plot, or rather internment rights, I encourage you to go check it out from time to time to avoid any unpleasant surprises.