At the time of purchasing a prepaid funeral plan many of Rest Assured’s customers also ask us how to buy a burial plot. It’s a natural step to take for many who are making their own funeral plans and wish to be buried and not cremated. Burial plots are not included in any of Rest Assured’s funeral plans because their price varies so significantly across the UK. However, the purchase of a burial plot is something we are able to facilitate on behalf of our customers when it is needed. We’re also ready to advise our clients on how best to undertake the process of buying a burial plot themselves.

Buying a burial plot is a reasonably straightforward process, but there are several considerations to take into account before one is purchased.

In this article we cover everything that a person should wish to understand when wanting to know how to buy a burial plot in the UK.


What is a burial plot?

A burial plot is a small parcel of land in which someone can be buried.

They can be bought for individuals, and only ever hold one person. They can also be acquired for the purpose of holding several family members in one grave.

Burial plots are located in church graveyards, cemeteries or alternative burial grounds such as designated woodland area or meadow areas.

Traditional burial plots are marked by a headstone or other type of memorial, while graves within natural burial grounds are often unmarked, or marked by the presence of a tree, plant or animal shelter such as a bird or bee box.


How to buy a burial plot?

Buying a burial plot isn’t difficult.

First, a person must contact their local council for a list of cemeteries, graveyards and natural burial grounds in their local area.

Then they should contact the relevant owner or office associated with the burial ground of choice, to ascertain the availability of plots for sale. In the UK, this will either be a local authority or a church.

If your burial ground of choice is full, Rest Assured can search alternative options for you.

It is important to clarify that, in the UK, you do not actually buy a burial plot outright. Instead, you purchase the ‘exclusive right of burial’. These rights operate like a lease and they permit you to decide who is buried in the plot for a set period of time.

During the lease period, headstones and other memorials may be positioned on top of the burial plot to mark the grave.


What is exclusive right of burial?

An Exclusive Right of Burial is the official name given to a lease attached to a burial plot.

It decrees that nobody but those chosen by the leaseholder may be buried in the plot for the duration of the lease.

However, there is no real ownership of the land and the lease expires on a set date without it being renewed.

Burial plot leases typically last for between 25 and 100 years.

Once acquired, the owner of an Exclusive Right of Burial is deemed to have received a Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial for that set period of time.

As the lease approaches its expiry date, the local authority, church or land owner of the burial ground will contact the current leaseholder and offer an opportunity of renewal.

If the offer is not taken up any headstone or grave marker may be removed for collection by the outgoing lease owner, or it will be disposed of by the local authority, church or land owner.

Many of Rest Assured’s clients have already been granted permission to be buried in an existing burial plot belonging to their family.

In such cases, Rest Assured can help to fulfil that arrangement but will require the deeds of the grave and any other paperwork associated with it.


How much does a burial plot cost?

The cost of a burial plot varies vastly across the UK.

At the time of writing in November 2021, a burial plot can cost as little as £750 or as much as £7000 depending on which part of the country and which burial ground is preferred.

The average price of a UK burial plot comes out at just under £2000.

The price typically covers the Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial, the cost of digging the grave and the cost of interment.

However, a big challenge facing the UK funeral industry is the growing shortage of burial land, with available burial plots expected to run out in several areas of the UK within two decades.

As the industry progresses over the coming years the price of traditional burial plots is expected to rise rapidly.

Of course, burial plots for cremated remains are significantly cheaper than ones which hold a coffin. They can cost as little as £350.

Single traditional burial plots are less costly than those required to hold multiple coffins.

Non-residents of local council areas often pay higher fees for a grave than local residents who have paid council taxes in the area.

Headstones and memorials are an additional cost to consider in traditional cemeteries and church graveyards.

‘Woodland’ burial plots are less expensive than traditional ones.

While they also vary in cost between natural burial sites, the average cost of a woodland burial in the UK is £750 rising to approximately £5000 for the most idyllic spots in sought after postcode areas.

They are also often available to buy outright instead of on a lease.


What happens if the lease on a burial plot expires?

When the Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial (or burial plot lease) runs out a person must provide a significant amount of documentation and pay a renewal fee to reinstate ownership of the burial plot.

Documentation requested by a local authority, church or land owner in these circumstances may include former grave deeds, wills and death certificates.

The high demand for burial space across the UK means any lapse in a burial plot lease is likely to be seized upon as an opportunity to resell the plot.

When no new burial has occurred for more than 70 years, burial plots are monitored and researched for their forthcoming availability by local authorities, churches and land owners.

When a burial plot lease expires without trace of a lease holder, headstones are removed and the grave is re-dug to accommodate new burials.

Existing remains are not disturbed but left in the grave to be buried below new ones.


How to transfer the rights of a burial plot?

The holder of an Exclusive Right of Burial lease decides who can be buried in their burial plot.

They can also assign their rights to another family member to create a joint ownership with equal rights to choose who is buried there.

The Exclusive Right of Burial can also be passed on in a last will and testament.

Those who hold a burial plot lease but die without making a will automatically bequeath it to their next of kin.

If the lease holder wishes to transfer their rights during their lifetime this is done through contact with the associated local authority, church or land owner.


Rest Assured is an authority on all end-of-life matters including funeral plans, wills, property trusts and the purchase of burial plots.

For more information about funeral plans and how we ensure every customer is happy with the funeral plan they buy, please contact Rest Assured Plans on 0800 065 4514