Thoughts of your eternal resting place might seem needlessly ghoulish, and transferring ownership of a cemetery plot to a family member might feel downright cruel. But death awaits us all, like it or not, and a population explosion coupled with inadequate space means we’re facing an international cemetery plot shortage. Cemetery plots are big business, and transferring ownership can be a significant gift, ensuring that the recipient has a secure eternal resting place.
The process of buying a cemetery plot is usually fairly straightforward, since cemetery plots are essentially pieces of real estate. Transferring the plot, though, can require a bit of finesse, since failing to properly transfer the plot might mean that the recipient has no place to be buried when the time comes.
Why Buying and Transferring Cemetery Plots is Different
Everyone who plans to be buried will eventually need a cemetery plot. For this reason, most states treat cemetery plots a bit differently from other forms of real estate, limiting the circumstances under which they can be bought or sold, controlling who can buy or sell the plots, or establishing protocols to ensure people have equal access to particularly desirable plots. For example, it’s common to purchase a plot in a specific row, rather than being able to seek out the specific individual plot of your choice.
Indeed, most states require that some portion of the cemetery plot’s price go to the maintenance and perpetual care of the cemetery and the plots contained therein. For this reason, the process of transferring ownership can be cumbersome. It’s a good idea to begin the process well before the person to whom you are transferring the plot needs it. And don’t forget to explore your own burial options, since the cemetery plot shortage means that transferring your plot to someone else could leave you without a plot of your own!
The Basic Transfer Process
One of the greatest challenges of buying, selling, and transferring cemetery plot ownership is that state and local laws vary so greatly. At some cemeteries, transferring ownership is a simple matter of finding a buyer and filing the right paperwork. At others, cemetery plot transfer is a government matter that requires approval of a government agency. For this reason, before you transfer your plot, you’ll need to review the following documents:
- The contract with the cemetery itself, which may outline the specific situations when you can transfer ownership of the plot.
- State and local ordinances governing cemetery plot transfers.
- Any contracts you have with another party, including contracts to sell or transfer the plot in return for services or other valuable goods.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve already accepted money for the plot, promised it to a family member, or even begun the process of transferring ownership. Without following the contract with the cemetery and your local and state laws, you may not be able to complete the sale.
Even something as seemingly trivial as buying a cemetery plot in a specific county or city can affect the sale process. In Newnan, Georgia, for instance, you can transfer a cemetery in a will. But outside of a legally valid will, you cannot sell or transfer ownership to another party without the permission of the City Manager. Additionally, would-be sellers must seek permission via a Cemetery Lot Transfer Form completed and submitted along with the deed transfer. Because the process varies so much and can be quite cumbersome, consider talking to a lawyer before transferring your plot.
The Role of Cemetery Management
Owning the deed to a cemetery plot does not make you the owner. Instead, it simply gives you a right to use the plot. In most cases, the cemetery management company remains the owner of the plot itself, so reviewing the company’s rules and regulations is critically important.
In most states, you can transfer ownership of a cemetery plot to a family member in your will. But if you intend to sell the plot, that may be another matter entirely. For instance, in New York, cemetery plot transfers are overseen by the Division of Cemeteries. The Division requires that owners offer the plot to the cemetery corporation first, at the price originally paid plus four percent simple interest from the date first purchased. Only if the cemetery corporation declines to buy the plot can you then transfer ownership to another party. And even then, you’ll need to seek the permission and approval of the Division of Cemeteries prior to commencing with the transfer.
When you opt to sell your cemetery plot, talk to the management of the cemetery first. A handful of cemeteries, particularly those owned by religious organizations, fall outside of state and local laws, and may establish their own procedures for buying, selling, and transferring land. Your contract may further stipulate that you must consult with the management company prior to transferring the plot. And, of course, notifying the management company of the transfer helps you iron out any problems before they become so severe they delay a burial.
Using the Right Deed
Because cemetery management companies are the rightful owners of cemetery plots, you’ll need to verify both that the ownership paperwork is legally valid, and that the cemetery management company will allow ownership to be transferred. This usually requires nothing more than a simple phone call, but your county clerk can verify for you whether or not the deed has been filed.
After you verify the deed and the right to transfer ownership, you will need to file paperwork in your county clerk’s office changing the owner’s name on the cemetery plot deed. This is a simple matter of altering the current ownership papers, and is often the least cumbersome part of the ownership transfer process. The transfer will not be complete until the paperwork is filed with the county clerk, and you have received permission from any regulatory body overseeing the plot.
Every month, Chicago resident Linda Kluth is able to place flowers on her late husband’s cemetery plot, clean off debris from the headstone, and use an edger to make it look picture-perfect. The catch is that his tomb is in Cleveland—and Linda does not have to leave home to do this.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not, thanks to new grave site concierge services popping up around the country.
Kluth, 63, uses a nationwide service called Gravescape to tend to her late husband’s grave site, and those of her late parents and in-laws, all of whom are buried in Cleveland. For a monthly fee, a Gravescape contractor not only delivers flowers and details each memorial; he or she takes digital before-and-after photos and reports the time of service along with the temperature and weather conditions at the cemetery. All of this information is emailed to Kluth. It provides her with the peace of mind that her loved ones’ final resting places are being taken care of.
"We’d go back [to Cleveland], and the grave was a mess," she said of past visits with her son to her late husband’s gravesite. "The cemetery doesn’t take good care of it. They just sort of mow over everything. If we lived there, I would take clippers and go do it."
Based in Whitehouse, Ohio, outside Toledo, Gravescape was founded by Mark Martin in December 2007. The idea for the business came to him suddenly on Mother’s Day three years ago when visiting his late mother’s burial place, which he’s regularly tended since losing her at 18.
He looked around the nearly empty cemetery and thought, "How many people can’t do what I did today?" He explained, "Cemeteries are in the business of providing general maintenance, such as mowing the grass, refuse removal, and street and curb repair. As a general rule, they are not concerned with the details that family members are concerned with."
Indeed, he continued, often the only time a cemetery places flowers on a gravesite is the occasional holiday. And personalization on those predetermined dates often comes down to "’Do you want the red or the blue one?’" Martin said.
National grave site concierge services such as Gravescape often have thousands of contractors (the company has a whopping 140,000) set up in the farthest corners of the United States to deliver a wide variety of products—such as flowers and vases—and perform an assortment of services, including headstone cleaning, with orders taken via phone and on their Web site.
Whether the services or products that customers purchase are elaborate or simple grooming, it’s not just people like Kluth, who have moved away from a loved one’s burial place, who use grave site concierge services. Both Martin and K.C. Ballinger — manager of Kansas-based Gravesite Masters, another nationwide service — receive orders from people who no longer drive, have trouble getting around, or have difficulty leaving retirement communities, long-term care, and assisted living facilities.
"Sometimes you’ll have people who aren’t physically able to go out and do it," Ballinger said of his customers, many of whom hire Gravesite Masters for a one-time service, while others opt for seasonal or monthly service.
With the advent of digital photos (many grave site concierges services send print photos upon request), hiring such a service is the next best thing to actually visiting the tomb. And in the lives of many, visiting and maintaining a loved one’s burial place are paramount activities.
"The business of grave site concierge services is very much in line with what people care about and feel in their heart," said psychologist and author Dr. Keith Ablow. "There’s a reason why we take such care in choosing caskets and gravestones. It’s a way of staying attached to the memory of that person. These services allow you to feel as though you’re doing something to honor them."
Colleen Carroll Subin hired Gravesite Masters to place a wreath on her late niece’s tomb last winter in Massachusetts. "It was Christmas season," the Florida resident recounted, and the young woman had a November birthday, "so I needed to find a way to remember her."
The holiday sentiment was a hit.
"The whole family loved it," she gushed. "I’m the godmother, so I wanted to do something very special."
After the wreath was placed, Subin received a digital photo of the freshly decorated plot. She still has that photo saved on her husband’s computer.
Positive customer feedback from customers such as Subin and Kluth are common for Gravesite Masters and Gravescape. In fact, both companies receive a steady stream of it.
"It’s just touching," Martin said of emotional customer reactions, which oftentimes start before customers even make their first order.
"When people learn about what we do, there’s just disbelief," Martin said. "It’s very powerful."
If you must move a cemetery . . .
It�s never something you want to think about, and it should always be the choice of last resort, but there are times when a cemetery has to be moved in order to preserve and protect the remains. How this is done is established by state law. In South Carolina it is Section 27-43-10 through 40.
This is an example of a scoop and dump � the laborers are excavating in a manner that virtually insures no remains will be found and are walking all over any remains that might be there � causing yet further damage.
Worker standing in the grave virtually ensures that northing will be found.
The problem is that low bid firms hired by the governing body or the funeral director have no knowledge in osteology (human skeletal remains), period burial practices (like the types of coffins used during different periods or the social status that different practices reflect), or even how to best excavate human remains. Often these low-bid firms use backhoes to scoop up some soil and dump it in a pasteboard box, claiming that no bone would be left anyway. Or sometimes the laborers they hire have no idea what they are actually looking for. The result � human remains are disrespected by being overlooked, damaged, and destroyed.
T hese are human remains left behind after a scoop and dump removal.
There is an alternative � the use of forensic anthropologists to remove human remains. These individuals are trained in the excavation and analysis of skeletal material � they can recognize even small, fragmentary bones. And they are trained to recognize different coffin fragments, handles, clothing, and other remains that might be preserved. We believe that only appropriately-trained personnel should be involved in the excavation and recovery of all human remains, whether ancient or recent. Baseline qualifications for archaeologists are available from the Secretary of the Interior. We also support guidelines for professional qualifications and conduct established by the Register of Professional Archaeologists and the Society for American Archaeology. The controlled excavation and collection of human remains takes a significant amount of time, often measured in days. Professional archaeologists will not violate standard professional protocol for burial excavation unless significant extenuating conditions, such as safety or severe weather, are present. Thus, the involvement of professional archaeologists in burial excavation and removal will always slow the rate of processing at the site.
Professional exposure of the grave, casket, and skeletal remains.
There are a number of studies that a trained forensic anthropologist will want to undertake should it be necessary to remove human remains — and these studies are critical in the process of "the dead teaching the living." For example, samples will be taken to help identify any parasites (such as hookworm or tapeworm) or insects that might have been present. This information can help us better understand the disease and diet of the individual, as well as provide information concerning the treatment of the corpse. It is at times possible to obtain information through DNA analysis on blood grouping, HLA typing, and antibody absorption — all efforts that while time consuming and expensive provide otherwise unavailable genetic information. A new technique, called histomorthometrics, allows microscopic age determination by thin sectioning long bones. Carbon isotope analysis is useful in determining the diet of the population. Trace element analysis can also address a broad range of questions about diet and contamination or poisoning of an individual. While some tests are destructive and may be unacceptable to families, there are also nondestructive techniques (such as X-ray fluorescence, electron microprobe, and neutron activation). Bones can also be examined for evidence of heavy metals to address other questions concerning diet and disease.
Sufficient time should be allocated for the scientific study of human remains and grave goods prior to reburial. Periods measured in hours or days are unreasonably short and fail to allow the full investigation of the recovered remains. Weeks or months are more appropriate in most cases.
FAQs About Cemetery and Burial Relocations
A developer bought the land my family cemetery is on and has obtained the permission of the local government to move my cemetery. Will they be required to use a forensic anthropologist?
Forensic anthropologists and archaeologists are specially trained to ensure the complete, and respectful, recovery of human remains.
No. They will only be required to hire a funeral director. Then they are allowed to get the cheapest bid they can find for digging up your loved ones. You can, however, insist that a forensic anthropologist be hired � remember, state law gives you a say in the matter.
I�ve heard that archaeologists are ghouls who only want to dig up bones to study them.
You�ve heard wrong. We here at Chicora would prefer never to move a burial, much less a cemetery. But if human remains must be moved we believe that � with the family�s permission � the remains have the potential to tell us a great deal about life here in South Carolina. By studying human remains we have the opportunity to learn things that are in no history book or family diary. This is an opportunity for the dead to teach the living � to provide a continuing legacy.
Will archaeologists dig up or study my ancestor�s bones without my permission?
Interior of a vault being studied by forensic anthropologists to determine construction methods and how the vault was used during the Colonial period.
Will an archaeologist be more expensive?
Possibly. But there is a world of difference between skilled, careful excavation and a backhoe. You need to make the decision how valuable your family remains are and what you feel is the appropriate level of respect to show them.
Are all the tests you talk about really necessary?
If a grave must be moved, there is that one opportunity to allow the dead to teach the living. If a family is willing to allow their loved one to be examined, yes, these tests are necessary since they provide a rare glimpse into the past that would not otherwise be available. Moving a grave is traumatic — at least this level of investigation provides some positive outcome, providing a legacy of information. " Mortui Vivos Docent " is Latin for "The dead teach the living" — expressing the hope that in even in death there can be much learned.
What else do forensic archaeologists do?
We can identify the boundaries of a cemetery, how many graves are in a family plot (even those that are unmarked), and we can examine the construction techniques of different vaults to help you determine the best means of repairing them. We can even examine coffin remains to help date the materials. Forensic archaeologists also work with law enforcement to identify and recovery crime victims. See more on our Forensic Archaeology page.
Transfer of cemetery plots occurs for various reasons. A plot owner moves from a region and no longer desires internment in that region’s cemetery, inherits a plot, purchases a plot from a different part of the cemetery or has too many spaces and purchases a smaller plot. In some instances transfer doesn’t include a sale—a co-owner decides to transfer primary plot ownership or a plot owner decides to transfer a plot to another party for the “right of burial” excluding ownership. No matter the reason, you can easily transfer cemetery plots through the office of your local cemetery director, association or township.
Contact the cemetery director or association managing the cemetery where your burial plot is located to determine if the cemetery director/association or local township handles transfers and the requirements for plot deed/title transfer for your region based on your status (owner, co-owner or heir) and the type of transfer (full transfer or “right to burial” only). In addition, ask about associated transfer fees and whether you need a copy of the deed/title.
Fill out any necessary transfer or “change of ownership” paperwork. Cemetery rules and state laws typically require your contact information (name, address and phone number), the name and address of the cemetery, the name and contact information of the plot purchaser or addition (new co-owner(s) or person receiving the “right to burial” without ownership), the reason for the transfer and your relationship to the purchaser/addition. And if you or the purchaser/addition has an affiliation with a funeral directing business, note the type of affiliation on the form.
Sign and date the form and submit it to the cemetery director, association or township representative. If a signature is required in the presence of a witness, sign and date the form in front of an approved witness—typically a notary or township clerk.
Three months ago our very wonderful dog passed away. She was 14 years old and lived a good life. We wanted to bury her at our home, so I dug a 4ft hole under a nice tree, wrapped her body in a white sheet and buried her.
Fast forward three months, and my spouse has a great job offer back in our home state. It was totally unexpected, but we’re putting our house on the market next week. The issue is that my spouse is incredibly upset over "leaving" our dog behind. We’ve only lived here for a few years, and our dog was sick most of the time we were here. Also, there’s no reason we’ll be back in this part of the country to visit the grave.
Without thinking much about the details of the task, I said I would move the remains with us.
I’m not at all the squeamish type, however I’m looking for some advice on what to expect, and perhaps how best to transport the remains.
The doggie was 10lbs when she died, and quite thin due to her illness. She was buried in early January. We’re in the midwest and we’ve had an unusually mild spring. The soil is a mix of loose topsoil and clay, erring on the clay side. It’s a 14 hour drive to the new home. We don’t have a truck, so the remains will need to be sealed in a manner that can travel in the trunk of a car. I’ll be able to rebury the remains immediately after the drive.
How to go about moving a pet’s grave
Is there any reason you have to do the exhuming yourself? I can think of quite a few people who would both appreciate some extra cash for doing a simple task like this, plus would just not be bothered by it or would even find it interesting (teen/college-aged biology geeks come to mind. But really I think plenty of people would just be genuinely unbothered by the squeamishness factor).
I would offer someone $50 to do the exhuming and put my pet’s remains into a container that I could directly bury in that second location. And then put that container into a second airtight container.
posted by cairdeas at 7:47 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]
Zoology building or look for archaeology students.
We’d need to page ColdChef for more information on decomposition after three months, but it’s quite possible that there hasn’t been too much given that it’s been underground mostly in winter. First-hand experience of a cat decomposing outside in a plastic bag from December through April in the Rockies leads me to believe it’s quite possible that you might be facing a relatively intact and solid (as opposed to runny and messy) body. Be ready for maggots, though. Even if you’re not squeamish, and I believe you when you say you’re not, they can be a bit confronting the first few times you run into them.
Soil is usually relatively easy to clean off things that have been underground for centuries, so I don’t think you’re going to have much trouble getting rid of all the loose dirt after just a few months. The excavation should be quick, but be sure to dig carefully so you don’t cut into the body. There should be a noticeable difference in the soil texture where you dug the original hole, so it ought to be relatively easy to avoid the body when you re-excavate. Maybe use a gardening hand shovel instead of a large one, though.
The cooler recommendation sounds like the best option, but I can attest that triple-wrapping an animal body in heavy-duty gardening trash bags also works remarkably well for containing smells and bits. Put it in the bag, wrap it tight-ish around the body, knot it well. Put that in another bag, repeat. Put that in a final bag, and leave it loose so you can carry it around. If you pop that in a cooler you can even use one you’ve got around the house and want to re-use, because it’ll seal everything in.
posted by barnacles at 9:30 PM on May 3, 2012
"OP: I’m not at all the squeamish type,"
So uh, am I reading this wrong? To me it looks like they are fine with the exhuming part. Why is everyone saying to hire someone else to do it?
And yes, I would definitely go with a styrofoam cooler from a CVS-type place that you can seal up and then dispose of afterwards.
posted by Grither at 5:45 AM on May 4, 2012
I would suggest cremation as others have suggested. If that’s not feasible, then I would transport her in a cooler (presumably one that you don’t use for food, so buying a new one might be the best route here), and sealing the edges with duct tape.
I would also say that when you bring her out of the ground, resist the temptation to look at her. I don’t know if this would be something you’d do anyway, but I thought I’d say it just in case.
In my situation, I have two dogs that are still fairly young, and I have thought about this as well. When mine pass on, I plan to bury them at my parents’ house, because they have three acres of woods where I can lay them to rest when their lives are complete. You may not live as close to your parents (or may not have a relationship like that with them), but burying them there would still give me the opportunity to see them for as long as my parents live there (which will be until they die).
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 6:31 AM on May 4, 2012
Maintaining graves is a very important task for our staff. Some common questions we hear involve how long it takes for a grave to settle, what the process entails, and when grass will be planted. Keep reading to learn more.
What is grave settling? Grave settling is the process of the earth (soil, clay, etc.) surrounding the burial readjusting.
How long does is take a grave to settle? The duration of time it takes for a grave to settle varies greatly on the season, type of burial, and other external factors. However, on average its takes about a year for a grave to fully settle.
What is the process of leveling a grave? Directly after the burial, the vault is surrounded by filler. While many cemeteries use only soil, we use fill sand to the top of the vault and then soil from the vault to the top of the grave. Sand is much more durable against water and therefore speeds and assists in the settling process. As the grave settles throughout the year, additional soil is added.
When will grass be planted? Grass will be planted on a grave before the grave has settled completely. Typically, the first seed application will occur within a few months of the burial, depending on the season. As the grave continues to settle throughout the year, more soil and seed are applied until the grave is level and the grass has grown in fully. Please keep in mind that grass seed cannot be planted during summer and winter months as the seeds will not germinate. We understand that leveling and seeding can cause distress to a family and we ask for your patience during the process.
When can a memorial or monument be placed? This answer varies depending on the individual situation. Many memorials can be set soon after the burial, weather permitting. The type of memorial (flush or above ground) will also affect how quickly it can be placed on a grave. It is also important to consider the production time of the memorial and if a poured cement foundation is required. Generally, memorials are not able to be set during late fall through early spring.
On Sunday, Israel Defense Forces began relocating remains from a cemetery in the Gaza Strip. By the end of the week, 48 graves will be moved to new sites across the border. How do you move a cemetery?
In Israel, with coffins; in America, with boxes. The remains of the Gaza settlers were disinterred, placed in flag-draped coffins, and quickly transported to new burial sites. American grave-movers sometimes use plain wooden boxes, 2 feet long and 1 foot high, to store and carry whatever bone fragments and coffin parts they might dig up. (The original coffins often deteriorate in the ground.) Then they bury the boxes—one for each relocated grave—in a “perpetual-care cemetery” that vows to take care of each plot forever. The original headstones are either saved and placed above the new graves or buried alongside the boxes.
Cemetery relocations are not at all uncommon, since developers often need to clear out graveyards from valuable tracts of land. Procedures for doing so vary from state to state, but most places require some careful planning and historical study. If it’s possible to determine the identities of those buried in the graveyard, the developer must make an earnest attempt to find out as much as he can about the site and contact descendents for permission to dig it up. The final authority to move a cemetery generally comes from a town or city council.
For older sites, or any cemetery of particular historical importance, the developer may be required to bring in a team of archaeologists. The team surveys the cemetery and uses ground-penetrating radar and soil tests to look for graves. (Old grave shafts can show up as discolorations of the earth one or two feet below the surface.) Then the archaeologists take pictures of the site and record the precise location and orientation of each gravestone.
When archaeologists dig up a grave, they use sculpting tools and brushes to identify each item they find and then box up the remains for study in the lab. Before the bodies are reinterred, the team writes up a technical report that describes everything they’ve discovered in the cemetery. In some cases, families and developers will decide to mimic the conditions of the original cemetery in a new location; for example, gravestones might be placed in the same relative positions, and original iron gates might be placed around the new site.
More recent graves might call for a coarser excavation. For a couple thousand dollars per body, a burial company will relocate a cemetery with a backhoe and shovels. They use the tractor to dig up the top few feet of earth above the graves and the shovels to extract the remains. They videotape the disinterment to record whatever items they find and then place those items in a wooden box.
Bonus Explainer: What happens when a cemetery gets flooded? Usually nothing. Water flows right over many older graves, but it can cause problems for fresh ones. In a flood, a recently buried vault might pop up through soil that’s still moist and loose. In that case, the graves must be relocated when the flood is over—back to their original locations.
Explainer thanks Dianne Kay of Southern Illinois University, Alan Leveillee of PAL, and R. Ward Sutton of R. Ward Sutton Cemetery Services, and reader Scott de Brestian for asking the question.
There are many situations in which you might need to transfer ownership of a cemetery plot. A common reason is divorce: you’ve decided not to be together in life and you’d prefer not to be in death either.
A cemetery plot can be sold or transferred much the same way you would transfer any other piece of land. You can transfer ownership with a deed or by writing a letter of conveyance. Each jurisdiction is different though, so it’s important to understand the laws where the cemetery is located so you can meet all the requirements. It’s also important to check with the cemetery to determine its requirements. You may need to provide written notification or file a written application to transfer the plot to someone else.
Your Ownership Rights
When you buy a cemetery plot, you don’t actually own the land—the cemetery itself does. Instead, you buy a license or right to use the land under certain conditions. Generally, you receive the right to use the plot for burial and placement of a headstone as well as the right to vote at lot owner meetings.
Each cemetery has its own set of rules and regulations that must be followed by the plot owners. If you want to transfer your ownership, the rules explain the procedure you must follow to do so, which can include notifying the cemetery or submitting an application to sell the plot. Some cemeteries require that you offer them the right to purchase the plot before you can sell it to anyone else. If they do not purchase it, they will send you a written notice.
Many cemeteries allow you to transfer ownership within a family—parent to child, for example—or through your will without approval. These situations are not considered sales and generally are not subject to the same legal hoops as a sale of the plot would be.
State Laws and Sales of Cemetery Plots
Cemeteries are regulated by state laws. Each state has its own governmental agency that oversees cemeteries. In Florida, for example, cemeteries are regulated by the Division of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services, while California has a Cemetery and Funeral Bureau. Once the cemetery chooses not to purchase your plot from you, you need to submit the written notice from the cemetery to the state agency and request an application to transfer the plot. Most states do not charge a fee, but you most likely need to have your application notarized. Once the state agency approves the application, you are free to transfer the plot by writing a letter of conveyance.
Writing Your Conveyance Letter
When you are ready to transfer your plot ownership rights, you can write a letter of conveyance to the new owner. The letter should include the following:
- Your name and the purchaser’s name
- The purchase amount
- The date of purchase
- The plot or lot legal description, which you can copy from the deed or letter of conveyance you received when you bought the lot
- A statement that you are transferring all of your rights in the plot (list the rights you received when you bought the plot) to the new owner
- A statement that the new owner is subject to the cemetery rules and regulations
- A statement that the sale is based on a notice of ratification of sale by the cemetery and approval by the state agency
Once you receive the funds from the buy, the transfer of ownership is complete.
This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.