Can We Bury Ashes Ourselves if We Own a Family Burial Plot in a Cemetery?
The answer will depend on whether the sales contract for the plots contained terms allowing for private burials or not. If not, then it is likely that the cemetery has the right to adopt a regulation restricting the manner of burial.
Please see the following TN statutes:
46-1-108 Purchase and subdivision of land — Sale of lots — Approval of location for cemetery use — Purchase contract — Attachment or levy of execution. —
(a) A cemetery company has the power to purchase land, not exceeding two hundred (200) acres, to be used as a cemetery forever, to lay the land off in suitable avenues or walks and embellish with trees, shrubbery, and flowers, and to subdivide the land into lots suitable for graves, monuments, and vaults, and sell the lots in the manner that the board of directors of the cemetery determines; provided, that any land may be purchased and used as a cemetery at any place within a town or city after the proposed location has been approved by resolution of the governing body of the town or city.
(b) Each contract for the sale of burial space or the conveyance of interment rights shall be executed in duplicate, and an executed copy shall be given to the purchaser.
(c) If a specific interment site is selected by the purchaser at the time the purchase contract is executed, the contract shall contain a detailed description of the location of the interment site purchased. All such contracts must also contain the following or similar notices to the purchaser: "This cemetery is regulated by the State of Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Burial Services Section. The purchaser or the purchaser's designated legal agent has the right upon request to access the cemetery's records relating to the purchaser's interment right or interment site. Within ninety (90) days of the receipt of the final payment on the purchase contract for any interment right, the purchaser shall receive from the cemetery company proof of ownership of that interment right. The purchaser, at the purchaser's own cost, may record a copy of such proof of ownership with the register of deeds for the county in which the cemetery is located."
(d) All lots sold to purchasers pursuant to subsection (c) shall forever be free from attachment or the levy of an execution.
46-2-101. Cemetery rules and regulations. —
(a)(1) The owner of every cemetery may make, adopt and enforce, and from time to time may amend, add to, revise, change, modify or abolish, reasonable rules and regulations for:
(A) The use, care, control, management, restriction and protection of the cemetery, and of all parts and subdivisions of the cemetery;
(B) Restricting, limiting and regulating the use of all property within the cemetery;
(C) Regulating and preventing the introduction and care of plants or shrubs within the grounds;
(D) Regulating the conduct of persons and preventing improper assemblages in the cemetery; and
(E) All other purposes deemed necessary by the owner of the cemetery for the proper conduct of the business of the cemetery and the protection or safeguarding of the premises and the principles, plans and ideas on which the cemetery was organized.
(2) The owner of the cemetery may prescribe penalties for the violation of any rule or regulation, which penalties may be recovered by the owner of the cemetery in a civil action.
(3) The rules and regulations shall be plainly printed or typewritten, posted conspicuously and maintained, subject to inspection and copying, at the usual place for transacting the regular business of the cemetery; provided, that no cemetery to which the provisions of chapter 1 of this title are applicable has the power to adopt any rule or regulation in conflict with any of the provisions of chapter 1 of this title or in derogation of the contract rights of lot owners.
(b)(1) The owner of every cemetery has the further right to establish reasonable rules and regulations regarding the type, material, design, composition, finish, and specifications of all commodities to be used or installed in the cemetery. The rules and regulations shall be posted conspicuously and maintained, subject to inspection and copying, at the usual place for transacting the regular business of the cemetery. No cemetery owner has the right to prevent the use of any commodity purchased by a lot owner, or the owner's representative, agent, or heirs or assigns from any source; provided, that the use meets the rules.
(2) A cemetery owner shall be permitted to prohibit the installation of a commodity by noncemetery personnel; provided, that the fee charged by the cemetery owner for installation of the commodity does not exceed twenty-three cents (23¢) per square inch of the ground covered by the commodity. At the end of each calendar year, the cemetery owner shall be permitted to increase the fee for the installation of commodities by no more than the percentage representing the consumer price index at the end of that calendar year. The charge for installation of a commodity by the cemetery owner shall be the same to all, regardless of the source of the commodity. The cemetery owner shall install all commodities furnished from sources other than the cemetery within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the commodity, weather permitting.
(3) If the fee charged by a cemetery owner for installation of a commodity exceeds the fee scale described in subdivision (b)(2), then the cemetery owner shall permit installation of the commodity by noncemetery personnel, if requested by the lot owner, or the owner's representative, agent, or heirs or assigns. If noncemetery personnel are permitted to install a commodity, they shall not be denied reasonable access to the lot or grave space for the purpose of installing or servicing the commodity. The cemetery owner shall not deny information pertinent to the place of burial and respective grave location or installation location of the commodity. The information shall be furnished within a reasonable period of time, not to exceed fourteen (14) days after receipt of the request for information. The cemetery owner shall not charge for furnishing the information necessary for the proper installation of the commodity. The cemetery owner shall not charge for any service not performed. The cemetery owner shall only be allowed to charge an administrative or documentation fee to any noncemetery personnel seeking to install a commodity or to have a commodity installed by the cemetery company; provided, however, that the fee is the same amount charged to all cemetery customers, including those customers who purchase the commodity from the cemetery company charging the fee and the fee shall not exceed one hundred dollars ($100) per agreement. The cemetery owners shall not charge any other fees related to any noncemetery personnel seeking to install a commodity, other than the administrative or documentation fee, installation and memorial care.
(4) All cemetery owners shall have a full and complete schedule of all charges for services provided by the cemetery plainly printed or typewritten, posted conspicuously and maintained, subject to inspection and copying, at the usual place for transacting the regular business of the cemetery.