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NC and SC Estate Planning and Elder Law Firm

Friday, February 8, 2019

Stones & Statutes: What Law Applies When A Cemetery Is Disturbed?

It’s been months since Hurricane Florence made landfall, but in many ways we are all still recovering from the storm. We have helped numerous clients find and replace lost paperwork, and helped estate administrators manage repairs on properties they are responsible for but don’t live in. We have also counseled families who are trying to figure out how to fix or replace broken gravestones, and discussed what to do when a loved one’s grave has been disturbed by rising waters.  

No Longer Resting In Peace

We all like to think that our loved ones are resting in peace in a sacred space where no one and nothing can do them harm. Unfortunately, cemeteries are often impacted by natural disasters, or suffer at the hands of vandals.

The first thing to do if you discover a loved one’s grave has been disturbed in any way is to contact the police and the cemetery managers. Law enforcement can investigate whether a crime has been committed or public health is at risk. The sooner they can be on the scene, the better, particularly if vandals are to blame, because there may be evidence to gather. Many vandals have been caught because they left cans of spray paint or beer bottles with their finger prints on them behind. Others have been tracked down after security video footage was used to identify a culprit.

Who Is Responsible?


If a grave has been vandalized, the cemetery may have insurance that will cover the cost putting things right. If the damage was caused by a Presidentially declared disaster, then Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds may be available to help public or non-profit cemeteries clean-up, remove debris, and make repairs. There are also numerous grants cemeteries can apply for to help with restoration and preservation efforts.


If a headstone fell over because rain, wind, and gravity took their toll on it, the family will likely need to pay for the necessary repairs out of pocket. There is no way to push all the costs on to a certain family member, or to force all of the family members to split the cost. If there is a family trust, the funds in it may be able to be used to pay for repairs. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to advise you if trust funds may be used in the manner.

If your loved one’s grave has been disturbed, and you have questions about who is responsible for fixing it, don’t hesitate to contact our office and schedule an appointment.


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Monk Law Firm, PLLC assists clients throughout Charlotte, Rock Hill, Fort Mill and the surrounding areas.



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1701 First Baxter Crossing, Suite 101, Fort Mill, SC 29708
| Phone: 803-594-4453
13315 Carowinds Blvd., Suite Q, Charlotte, NC 28273
| Phone: 704-369-9977

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