Selling a cemetery plot that’s no longer needed can be a tricky task.
DEAR MR. MYERS: My ex-wife and I bought two side-by-side burial plots in a local cemetery several years ago. We went through a nasty divorce and, obviously, neither of us wants to spend an eternity lying next to each other. Can we sell these unwanted plots? If so, how do we do it?
ANSWER: My, what a grave (pun intended) question.
Believe it or not, tens of thousands of unwanted plots are resold every year. As with you and your ex-wife, the decision often is triggered by a divorce and gets even more complicated if one or both spouses later marry someone else. Other times, the plots are sold by an heir who inherits the property from a relative who lived far away.
And believe it or not, there’s a fair number of investors who actually buy plots in various cemeteries with the hope that they’ll go up in value in future years.
It’s important to realize that if you bought or inherited the property with someone else, each owner must agree to the sale.
Start by talking with a representative of the cemetery itself. Many operate buy-back programs, and some even have first-right-of-refusal on a plot that the original owner no longer wants.
Unfortunately, many cemeteries offer only a fraction of the price that the dirt is worth. To make sure that you’re getting a fair deal, compare a cemetery’s offer to prices of similar plots (preferably in the same facility) that might be listed on Craigslist.org or eBay.com.
There also are several registries and brokers who will market the plots and handle some or all of the necessary paperwork for you for a fee, commission or both. Among the largest are gravesolutions.com (888-742-8046) and finalarrangementsnetwork.com (989-893-6321).
DEAR MR. MYERS: We bought a new home, and the sale closed on March 3. We’re so busy unpacking that there’s no way we’ll be able to file our federal income-tax return by the April 15 deadline. How can we ask for an extension?
ANSWER: It’s easy. Simply fill out Internal Revenue Service Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, by the April 15 deadline. You can get the form by calling the agency at 800-829-3676 or by downloading it from irs.gov.
Getting Form 4868 to the IRS on time will give you a six-month extension, meaning that you won’t have to file the actual return until Oct. 15. You will, however, have to pay interest on any taxes that you may owe.
REAL ESTATE TRIVIA: Homeowners who have already filed their federal return can find out instantly when they can expect to get a refund check by filling out a simple form at irs.gov/Refund.
DEAR MR. MYERS: My neighbor tore up his yard as part of a big plumbing project. In the process, he killed a large tree that is on my side of the property line. Can I make him pay to replace the tree?
ANSWER: Yes. The general rule is that a neighbor who cuts down, removes or hurts a tree without permission owes the tree’s owner compensation for the harm that was done.
Hopefully, your neighbor will write you a check once you explain how the law works. There’s a chance that his homeowners insurance policy even might pay for the damage.
If your neighbor refuses to “do the right thing,” you’ll be in the awkward position of either suing the man in small claims court or paying to remove and replace the dead tree out of your own pocket.
DEAR MR. MYERS: What are the best buys for household goods in March?
ANSWER: Spring officially arrives each year on March 20, so many nurseries and home-improvement stores already have started offering deep discounts on everything from small gardening tools to lawn mowers. Prices for plants and fertilizers are sharply lower now, too. Look for discounts ranging from 25 percent to as much as 50 percent, according to bargain-hunting website dealnews.com.
March is also National Frozen Food Month, so discounts and coupons abound. It’s a good time to stock up, providing you have enough room in your freezer.
Many of the best deals on big-screen televisions went away with football’s Super Bowl in February. The exception is for 55-inch models, with prices on some brand-name sets that include Westinghouse and Scepter as low as $400. That’s more than $100 less than last month, said Benjamin Glaser, a shopping expert at dealnews.
You can save another $50 or $100 if you buy a generic set, Glaser adds.
David W. Myers’ column is distributed by Cowles Syndicate Inc.