My family has a small piece of land they use as a family cemetery down a dirt road out in the country. A number of years ago a hog farm purchased the adjacent property and now claims that the family has no right to the burial site. They have even dug up one grave recently and just left the vault and it's contents sitting out in the open for all to see. They come to family funerals and shout at the grieving parties about how the land doesn't belong to them and that they should leave.
Can they legally dig up existing graves, some have been there more than a hundred years. Do they have a right to disrupt our funerals?
1 Answer from Attorneys
As far as the disrupting funerals issue, you might remember hearing about the Westboro Baptist church. Technically they can dot his as long as they stay on their property and away from the funeral site.
More importantly is the property issue. There are only two ways I can think of them claiming alleged ownership. First is adverse possession. With AP, a person takes over another person's land and keeps it for ten years exclusive of the other person. If this happens without the other person objecting, then they can file an action to quiet title. Most people do this wrong...it sounds like they may be claiming this.
Second, it could be that when they had someone actually check the property lines, the plot where the graves are located is not actually owned by your family. Further, you should ensure that this land is properly zones for burial and if it is not, you will need to take steps to make it such. You need to speak to a real estate attorney in your area.
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