- There are state laws governing cemeteries, but I do not know how they apply
to the church-owned ones. They are mostly directed at access and
recognition of cemeteries. When I was on my Lutheran Church Council, that
particular Church cemetery committee sells the plots, keeps a ledger and
okays every burial made there. There is a provision for indigent burial
also. Because it is Church-owned, they can make the rules about who buys
plots, but once a plot is sold to a particular person it becomes that
person's property. This came up once when a non-family/non-church member
was buried in a Church plot and it was determined the family could choose to
bury whomever they wished in their plot. The rules try to keep the
ownership within the Church community or their families, partly due to space
and expansion considerations. The Church foots the expense of upkeep and
uses donations for the purpose.
My family has a group of plots in the Clifton Lutheran Cemetery, different
from the one above, and we also own the plots and pay a perpetual care fee
for upkeep. Our plots are registered with the Church and the funeral home
has access to that information. We have a group of 8 plots, my dad and
sister are buried there and mom and I plan to be buried there. The rest are
for any family need. When a cousin was killed a few years ago we offered a
plot but the family preferred to buy their own. My maternal Urban
grandparents are buried in a 4 plot section of the city cemetery, also
family-owned, and a few years ago one of their daughters died in a state
hospital and we buried her with them. Theoretically, we could use the
remaining plot however the family chooses.
I know of no instance in which an existing grave was ever reused. Once a
stone was placed on the wrong plot and when the cemetery went to open the
adjoining grave they found a casket. That required some checking and
double-checking but the other grave was opened for use, the stone moved to
the occupied plot and all worked out. I would go on-line and look at Texas
Statutes-cemetery and see what else you can find out.
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