My Will does not Mention my Cemetery Lot, What Happens to it?
The basic starting point of any estate plan is a Will. A Will allows one to express their wishes on how they would like their property to be distributed after their death, while also identifying the individual they would like to manage their estate until the final distribution. For the most part, there are very few limitations on what can be conveyed by a Will, as a correctly executed Will can convey real estate, money, art, vehicles, flowers, intellectual property, business interest, companion animals, and this list could go on almost endlessly. A Will not only allows you to distribute your assets to certain individuals but allows you to decide how much interest in your assets you would like to convey to each individual.
The most common distribution in estate planning generally conveys everything to one’s spouse and then everything equally to one’s children if their spouse predeceases them. Now this type of distribution is allowed for almost all assets but would not work to convey a cemetery lot if you have two or more children.
Minnesota Statute § 306.29 specifically states that “No (cemetery) lot may be affected by a testamentary devise unless the lot is specifically mentioned in the will and limited by it to one particular person.” To put in simpler terms, a conveyance by a Will of a cemetery lot will not be valid unless the cemetery lot is specifically identified in the Will and is conveyed to one individual.
For example, if your Will directs everything to your friend “Joe,” and you own a cemetery lot at Main Street Cemetery but did not specifically reference this lot to “Joe,” the cemetery lot conveyance would be invalid and would be conveyed as stated in the next section. To correctly convey this lot to Joe, your Will would need to state, “I convey my cemetery lot located at Main Street Cemetery to Joe.”
How does the cemetery lot get distributed?
Minnesota Statute § 525.14 states that the right to the cemetery lot shall descend through the following order:
To the decedent’s spouse
If there is no surviving spouse, then to the decedent’s eldest living child
If there is no surviving child, then to the decedent’s youngest surviving sibling
If there is no surviving spouse, child or sibling of the decedent, and, if the lot is not sold during administration of decedent's estate, the lot shall be held in trust by the cemetery association or private cemetery as a burial lot for the decedent and such of the decedent's relatives as the governing body thereof shall deem proper.
What does this mean?
Simply put, if you own a cemetery lot that you or your spouse do not plan on utilizing and you have no children or two or more children, the general misconception is that this cemetery lot would become part of your estate and distributed equally to those you have identified in your Will; however, this is not the case as your eldest child would inherit the lot outright if you had two or more children, or your youngest sibling would inherit it outright if you had no surviving children.
Preparing an estate plan can be a complicated process if not done correctly. Our office can help you create and maintain an estate plan that will reflect your wishes and goals. We strive to create a smooth and efficient process to help you complete your estate plan. Contact us today by sending us a message or calling the office at (507) 288-5567 to get started. You can also book an appointment online if that is more convenient for you.