Can I bury mum at home?

Q: My elderly mother has just expressed a wish that upon her death, she would like to be buried in the garden at her home.

She lived there as a child and later inherited the property to live in herself. She raised three children, including me, in that house and, apart from perhaps 10 years or so when she moved in with my father after they got married, has always lived there - and we certainly have many fond memories of the house.

The garden is very large and there is a stream running along the bottom, which backs onto some woodland. My mother used to spend many hours with us here as small children and now, her grandchildren still walk with her to the end of the garden to watch for fish in the stream. In fact, it was while we were sat here this afternoon, drinking tea and watching the world go by, that she expressed this particular wish.

But, can my mother actually be buried at home and what are the legal implications of this?

A: While such a request may seem unusual, it’s certainly not the first I’ve heard of it. People are attached to the places they’ve lived - especially if they’ve lived there for a long time like your mother has - and we do occasionally come across questions like your own, as to whether or not it is “legal” to lay someone to rest there.

Been there, done it!

In fact, this has been brought to light before by TV presenter Kirsty Allsop, who spoke to the Independent  about carrying out her own mother’s wishes to be buried in her garden at home.

While Ms Allsop expressed rather tongue-in-cheek that this was so that she could be close to the grave of the family pony, it unearthed a serious issue as to whether or not this was legal.

Is it legal?

And the answer is, yes. It is legal to be buried on your own property, as long as you own it in its entirety. The person responsible must also be in possession of a certificate of authority for burial and create a simple burial register.

You must also make sure that the burial doesn’t contravene any restrictive covenants on the land and the burial plot is far enough from a ditch or water source to meet Environment Agency rules (source as before).

An interesting edge to planning

The quirk of being near the family pony highlighted something else for Ms Allsop - and that was the importance of planning. She told the Independent her mother prepared for her death in advance, even digging her grave while she was still alive so it was all ready and even ordering a wicker coffin which she kept in the attic. She said “when my sister went to get the Christmas decorations she found it – which was a bit of a shock”.

Perhaps this takes things to a different level, but planning really is important. Now your mum has told you about this wish, you can take the time to investigate it and make sure you carry out her burial as she wanted.

If you would like some advice in relation to a home burial, or indeed any other planning such as wills, LPAs or trusts, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking Office

Email: [email protected]