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Mortuary Law: The Cultural Significance of Burial Sites

A decent burial ground is a good business opportunity in American urban centers. Cities have high population densities with little space to lay the dead. Many individuals prefer to cremate their loved ones because of the high cost of burial spaces, but many families still give the latter priority in the meantime. The high demand for burial spaces has pushed the cemetery business to be lucrative. The final rights or respects are observed at the burial site according to the family’s customs and practices. The cultural significance of burial sites has necessitated Texas to enact specific laws that guide their use and management. An entrepreneur venturing into the sector must understand the laws that guide buying the property, usage, and future sale of the property.

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In Texas, a cemetery can be run by a private citizen or the local state. A cemetery is a plot set aside to bury the remains of the dead or the ashes of a cremated body (Adams, 2017). Families who prefer to bury their dead should be wise when choosing a burial site and understand the laws that guide cemeteries. Notably, graveyards are not subject to ordinary property laws because of the difference in their nature (Adams, 2017). Occasionally, burial plots are plagued with controversies about selling the same property or piling more than one body in the same grave. Therefore, understanding what amounts to illegality or breach of contract will help afford admirable last respects to the dead.

In Texas, the regulation of cemeteries falls under local state-level regulation. Private graveyards must respect the provisions of the Cemetery Care Act. Texas Health and Safety code stipulate cemeteries’ location based on population (Texas Cemeteries and Crematories Association, n.d.). Furthermore, the law requires that the graveyard be subdivided into gardens with a map specifying the plots’ location.

The owner must sign a declaration of dedication committing the property to exclusive cemetery services. Filing the declaration with the town clerk informs others of the location of the graveyard. Additionally, the 85 Texas regulations added a new regulation stipulating that an abandoned graveyard is treated under the law as a cemetery even if it is not marked and mapped (Adams, 2017). Furthermore, an unverified burial site, which is evidenced by unmarked or marked graves, can be verified by a professional and subjected to cemetery laws.

A few regulations govern the ownership and the use of cemeteries in Texas. The top surface of a permeable container of the dead body must be more than two feet from the surface. The top should be at least one and a half feet off the surface for an impermeable receptacle. Additionally, Texas law requires the cemetery to keep records of the day the facility received the body and the date of burial, the name and age of the deceased, and the plot where the body is laid to rest. The cemetery management proceeds to file the records with the county clerk’s office (Texas Cemeteries and Crematories Association, n.d.).

Furthermore, the law allows the public to visit the gravesite during reasonable hours without restrictions. If the landowner discovers unmarked graves on his property, they must file a notice with the county clerk. At the same time, he should offer ingress and egress during reasonable hours (Drabble, 2019). A private owner can sell the land to a new owner who must maintain the graveyard business. The cemetery and the right to access the property will affect the valuation of adjacent properties.

The scarcity of sufficient burial grounds in densely populated cities has become a matter of concern for many. Bisnow (2017) maintains that the available burial space will run out soon and there is a need to formulate sustainable ways of laying the dead to rest. As a result, cremation is on the rise, with current estimates at 50% of all funerals (Bisnow, 2017). Experts project the figure to get to more than 80% of all burials by 2035 (Bisnow, 2017).

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There is enough land in the rural areas but limited space in the cities (Tang, 2019). The commercial value of land in densely populated places further aggravates the matter. Landowners prefer to use the limited available free space for commercial purposes as opposed to burial services. Bisnow (2017) offers an existing alternative to natural burials where the bodies are laid to rest without a vessel or embalming fluid. The body decomposes naturally, which may offer future generations interment options.

Strict laws in Texas guide cemetery usage and management to avoid public conflicts. Registering the property and signing a declaration of dedication eliminates using the parcel for any other purpose. Private and public graveyards must keep detailed interment records with the county clerk. Furthermore, cemeteries must be marked for the public and mapped with the county clerk. Although there is no real lack of land in Texas, densely populated areas experience an acute shortage of burial sites. More people are resorting to cremation as a sustainable alternative. Natural burial can also offer hope for future generations on the available interment options.

References

Adams, R. (2017). Whistling past the graveyard cemeteries in Texas. Web.

Bisnow. (2017). Urban cemeteries running out of space as baby boomers enter twilight years. Forbes. Web.

Drabble, B. (2019). Dying to get in: Cemeteries on private property are private cemeteries legal in Texas?. Web.

Tang, J. (2019). Cemeteries use a lot of space and are terrible for the environment. Is there a better way? Greater Greater Washington. Web.

Texas Cemeteries and Crematories Association. (n.d.). Establishing a family cemetery. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, September 29). Mortuary Law: The Cultural Significance of Burial Sites. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/mortuary-law-the-cultural-significance-of-burial-sites/

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StudyCorgi. "Mortuary Law: The Cultural Significance of Burial Sites." September 29, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/mortuary-law-the-cultural-significance-of-burial-sites/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Mortuary Law: The Cultural Significance of Burial Sites." September 29, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/mortuary-law-the-cultural-significance-of-burial-sites/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Mortuary Law: The Cultural Significance of Burial Sites'. 29 September.

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