Generally, it is not difficult to transfer unused cemetery property, non-personalized merchandise or services. We recommend that you call us before beginning the transfer process so that we may walk you through the steps required.

Here are some general items that apply to all transfers:

All transfers must be recorded on the books of the Corporation. In other words, you cannot just hand someone a deed and say they own it.

The original deed and/or certificate of ownership must be presented before Jefferson can process a transfer.

There is a fee for transferring the property that pays for the data entry and issuing the new deed.

At the time of a transfer or sale, the cemetery will collect funds to be deposited into the Endowment Care Trust Fund based upon current statute or company policy.

Property with existing interments cannot be transferred to a new owner. The deed must be split into two deeds: one for the new owners and one to the original owners, even if deceased. A split deed sometimes requires two deed transfer fees.

We most often encounter two different situations when transferring cemetery property:

1. Transfer by Living Owner(s)

If all living titled owners consent to the transfer, it is a simple matter. Gather your

Deed and Certificate of Ownership and our staff will guide you through the transfer procedures.

2. Transferring When Owners are Deceased

Unused burial property or merchandise are considered undistributed items of the estate of the deceased. Jefferson must comply with the laws of Pennsylvania.

Generally, if the estate of the lot owner to die was probated or administered, the Executor or Administrator can act for the estate and transfer the property regardless of how long ago the owner's death occurred. A Short Certificate issued within the last 90 days must be provided in addition to the original Deed and/or Certificate of Ownership.

If the estate of the last owner to die was not probated or administered all surviving members of the family must execute notarized Affidavits attesting to the facts of the family situation and the resolution they request. Generally, these Affidavits, along with the original Deed, will allow us to transfer the property.

There are occasional situations that are legally complex that require you to engage a lawyer. If this should occur, we will so inform you.

Purchasing of Cemetery Property

Yes, you can and to anyone you want. We have seen property sell very quickly in the newspaper, and we have seen it sell slowly. It depends on many things; however, location and price are generally the biggest issues. If you are trying to get very close to the cemetery’s selling price, they will probably move slowing (making it a good deal could move them faster). Remember that the cemetery would normally include in their selling price the processing cost, deed fee and endowment care fee. When you sell property, the processing, deeding and endowment care are in addition to your selling price and are due the cemetery the day of the transfer. Some cemeteries participate in the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association lot exchange plan. Using this plan you could transfer the dollar credit (not lot for lot) of what was originally paid to another participating cemetery to be used toward your purchase there.

Most people who have a hard time selling family cemetery property simply are asking too much. For example: if the cemetery is selling a similar 2 spaces for $1,000 and you decide to ask $800, there is not enough spread. After the purchaser pays $195-$246 in transfer, deed generation and endowment care (which could make your property MORE expensive than the cemetery’s), they might as well buy from the cemetery and select where they want. If you offer the same two spaces for $500 and have the buyer pay the fees, you might get more people’s attention. Depending on how long ago the lots were originally purchased, you might still come out ahead.

Purchasing of Cemetery Property

Jefferson will not generally repurchase graves. If you purchased them many years ago, we might offer to repurchase them at your original purchase price. If we make such an offer, carefully consider if it is in your best interest to accept it. You might be better served to sell them on the open market or give them to your children. See the sections below on selling cemetery property and transferring unused cemetery property. In addition, many cemeteries participate in the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association Lot Exchange Plan. Using this Plan you may transfer the dollar credit (not lot for lot) of what was originally paid to be used toward your purchase at a ICCFA exchange participating cemetery. Call Jefferson directly at 412.655.4500 or visit the ICCFA website to learn more about this option.

As to why we cannot offer you a large re-purchase price. In today’s world, if any business makes 10% at the end of the year, they are solvent. That means that 90% of every dollar that comes in the door goes out in various expenses. Most cemeteries bought their land fifty or even a hundred years ago. The low book value of the land (cost) is the only thing that allows them to continue today. If a cemetery gives you near current selling price for the spaces that is now their cost of those spaces. The minute they are sold it is at a loss. That is why most cemeteries do not restrict your ability to sell them on the open market. You are probably shaking your head over this explanation in disagreement. Jefferson has been in the cemetery industry for 78 years. This is a factual explanation. The advantage of accepting the cemeteries offer is we take them off your hands quickly (assuming that you have clear title) and we do not charge any fees when we re-purchase property from you. You give us the property’s completed deed and we will give you a check. Look at it this way, if these graves were a term insurance policy, you would have paid the premiums for years, and when the policy expired without your dying, you would not get a refund from the insurance company. You had the insurance protection during the policy period, when the policy ended it ended. Here you have graves (the insurance) that were paid for over only a few years. The protection of owning cemetery property went on well past the number of years you were paying, and now the cemetery is willing to buy them back (no insurance company will do that). You didn’t purchase them to make money but to protect your family. They did that, and you could get all or some of your money back or they can be transferred to a new generation in your family. Not a bad investment all in all.

Purchasing of Cemetery Property

From the purchase price of all plots sold by Jefferson, or from all plots sold, transferred, assigned, given, gifted or inherited from a deeded owner to a new owner, the Corporation deposits amounts as specified by the Rules and Regulations or statute into the Endowment Care Fund.

Endowed care means that within the limits permitted by the income derived from the plot’s Endowed Care Fund, the Cemetery grounds will be maintained in keeping with a well preserved burial park, including the cutting of grass, and trimming of shrubs and trees at reasonable intervals; the procuring, maintaining and keeping in reasonable condition the machinery, tools, and equipment needed for that purpose. 

Purchasing of Cemetery Property

When you plan ahead, you will be able to compare the many options available. You will be able to compare the services, the products and the prices among different companies. You will have the opportunity to make an informed decision about your funeral and cemetery arrangements, and the form of memorial you prefer. You will be able to make choices that are meaningful to both you and your family, and you will gain peace of mind knowing your family and friends will be relieved of the emotional and financial burden often associated with making arrangements when a death occurs. In addition, by pre-funding your funeral and cemetery services, a guaranteed price contract will allow you to purchase at today’s prices, free from inflationary pressures in the future.

Purchasing of Cemetery Property