Transferring grave ownership

RegistersWhen the last owner of a grave dies the family may wish to transfer the grave to a new owner for several reasons..

  • To keep the grave in the family
  • To enable works to be made to the headstone/memorial
  • To allow for the grave to be used for burial

If a grave owner dies and it is intended that he/she or his/her cremated remains are to be buried in their own grave the ownership does not need to be transferred until after the burial has taken place as a grave owner is legally entitled to be buried in his/her grave without further permission.

Trained staff at the cemetery office will advise you on whom is entitled to take on the ownership of a grave and will prepare the necessary documents.  The information below is intended as a guide only.


Who is entitled to take ownership of a grave?

Probate. Where the deceased owner left a will and his/her estate was subject to probate the person/s named on probate as the executors to the will are the person/s legally entitled to take ownership of the grave.

Letters of administration.  Where the deceased owner did not leave a will but there was sufficient estate, Letters of Administration would be issued.  The person/s named on the Letters of Administration as the executors to the estate are the person/s legally entitled to take ownership of the grave.

In both of the above cases the ownership can be transferred to another person or persons or an additional owner added during the transfer process.

Intestate. Where the deceased owner died intestate (without a will) and there was insufficient estate to pass through the court we will need to help you establish whom is rightfully entitled to take ownership of the grave.  Once this is established we will write a statutory declaration (additional fee payable) which will detail whom is entitled and whether there are any other parties involved. This can be complex and it may be necessary for the person applying for ownership to get in contact with many members of the family to gain their permission.  There are some cases where we are unable to transfer the ownership of a grave where people are not contactable or unwilling to get involved.


What is the process?

  1. Download a transfer form to print and complete here or to complete the form on-screen and then print and sign the form click here.
  2. Persons taking ownership of the grave complete and sign page 1.
  3. Any executors not taking ownership of the grave complete page 2. All Executors must be included and sign as taking ownership or assenting their rights to the grave.
  4. Forms returned to office with sealed (embossed) copy of probate with a cheque for the current fee.
  5. Transfer completed and letter of confirmation sent to new owners*

Please note that fees are non-refundable if the transfer is not completed due to the applicant deciding to not proceed with the transfer or where it is not possible to obtain permission from any party whom has interest in the grave.

*All transfers are completed in turn.  Please allow for 2 to 4 weeks for the administration to be completed.

  1. Initial information taken over the telephone and fees paid
  2. Initial forms sent to transfer applicant if required
  3. Transfer forms and statutory declaration prepared by staff*
  4. Transfer forms sent to the transfer applicant
  5. Applicant signs the Statutory Declaration in front of a solicitor (who must check the papers, sign and stamp the declaration)
  6. All forms returned to office
  7. Transfer completed and letter of confirmation sent to new owners*

Please note that fees are non-refundable if the transfer is not completed due to the applicant deciding to not proceed with the transfer or where it is not possible to obtain permission from any party whom has interest in the grave.

*All forms are prepared and transfers completed in turn.  Please allow for 2 to 4 weeks for stages 2, 3 and 6 above.

By signing a Statutory Declaration you are bound by the Statutory Declarations Act of 1835.  Giving false information may lead to prosecution, criminal charges and in some cases a custodial sentence.   


Common questions people ask.

How long will it take? We process transfers of grave ownership in turn and we manage three busy cemeteries.  We aim to prepare the paperwork as soon a possible but you should expect to wait for 2 to 4 weeks.  Once completed forms are received we again attempt to complete the transfer as soon as possible – but please allow another 2 to 4 weeks.

Can any cases be dealt with more quickly? We can only fast track transfers where there is an immediate need for the grave to be opened for burial.

Why do I need to pay fees? The average transfer of ownership takes two to three hours of staff time and much longer if a Statutory Declaration is required. Staff are also required to update our computer database and burial registers.

I’ve been told that I can not have the grave transferred.  Is there anything I can do? We will try our best to find a way to transfer the ownership of a grave but in some cases it is not possible.  This is usually where families have dispersed around the world and lost touch or where there are family disputes. In these cases you may not be able to transfer the ownership.

Do I need a copy of the original deed? No. In most cases these are mislaid.  Once a transfer is complete we will send a confirmation letter to the new owner/s.  We also update our computer database and registers where appropriate. If, however you have the deed and would like it to be endorsed (this is not a requirement) we can do this for you and return it with the confirmation letter.

Can I have a new deed? No. We are unable to issue new deeds to existing graves or duplicates.

Does a transfer affect the lease term of the deed? No. The length of the ‘lease’ of the grave does not change when the grave is transferred.


For more information please contact the relevant office and a member of staff will be pleased to assist you.  For Putney Vale and Wandsworth cemeteries please call 020 8871 7820 or email bereavement@enablelc.org.  For Morden cemetery please call 020 8337 4835 or email mordencemetery@enablelc.org