Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Buried in Debt, but Not For Eternity.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | September 2, 2009

Posted by Cliff Tuttle (c) 2009

There are at least two ways of determining value of property. The first is to measure the value of a thing by its utility. The other is by what other people will pay for it.

Under the first measure, the value of similar grave sites in the same cemetery is more or less the same. You may swap one for another, since they are all equally suitable for their purpose, burial.

On the other hand, some people (the kind with extra money) may wish to pay a substantial premium for a particular grave site. Here’s why.

Quite practical, that widow who moved the decedent across the cemetery, selling the burial plot next to MM to pay off the household mortgage. The old man would have been proud of her business skill. But, as the Canadian website points out, some jurisdictions wouldn’t permit this lucrative transaction because they recognize rights in the person entombed there. This adds a third category of value, one conferred by vested legal right.

Of course, it is sometimes possible to be buried in a unique and much coveted site simply for the asking. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael A. Musmanno is buried in Arlington National Cemetery quite close to John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and now Edward M. Kennedy. He wrote a codicil to his will requesting that he be buried at Arlington as close to JFK as possible. Musmanno was qualified for burial in Arlington by virtue of his military service. When Musmanno died on Columbus Day in 1968, his executor asked Congressman Jim Fulton, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, to arrange it. And so he did.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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