How to Get Your Ancestor’s FindAGrave Memorial Transferred to You

cemetery, photo showing backs of tombstones with surnamesMany people feel a special obligation to create the FindAGrave memorial for close family members. So what do you do when someone else already did? Here’s how to get your ancestor’s FindAGrave memorial transferred to you.

Getting a FindAGrave Memorial Transferred to You

FindAGrave’s policy is that, “Memorials are transferred for direct relatives within four generations. This includes your spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.” (Per FindAGrave’s support page, July 2021.) What this means is that if the deceased is one of those relations to you, the person who created the memorial is required to transfer it to you.

There are two provisions: The memorial cannot be for a famous person (so, sorry if your great-grandmother is considered “famous” by FindAGrave; you can’t manage her memorial.) It also won’t be transferred to you if the creator is more closely related. (So if you’re the great-grandchild and the creator was the grandchild, he or she doesn’t have to transfer it to you.)

To start the transfer process, you have to be on FindAGrave.com on your computer. These options are not included in the FindAGrave app. Go to the memorial page and click on the “Suggest Edits” button in the top section of the page. (It’s under the person’s name, dates, and burial information.)

screenshot of Find A Grave Suggest Edits button. First part of the FindAGrave memorial transfer process.

To request the transfer, scroll down to the bottom of the form and click the “Suggest other corrections” button.

screenshot showing the Suggest other corrections button on Find A Grave, necessary for a memorial transfer
You’ll then get a form where you can request a “correction.” Tell the person that you are requesting a transfer and how you are related to the deceased. (Note: Even though they are required to transfer it to you if you’re within the 4 generations, some will transfer it if you’re outside those guidelines. It doesn’t hurt to ask.) Click the “Save Suggestions” button…. and wait.

You’ll be notified when the person transfers management of the memorial to you. If it takes more than 30 days, contact FindAGrave at support@findagrave.com and explain the situation. If you’re within the 4-generation requirement, they will make the memorial transfer for you.

Removing Images from FindAGrave Memorials

To say that someone is “managing” a FindAGrave memorial is a bit of a misnomer. Managing a memorial means that the manager can add edit the information on the memorial. What it doesn’t allow is the removal of images that others have added.

It turns out that the only person who can delete an image from FindAGrave is the person who posted it. If you’ve created a memorial or had one transferred to you, you cannot delete any of the images that others post on there.

I have to say that this was a surprise to me. I created my Dad’s FindAGrave memorial within 90 minutes of learning of his death. (I had been burned before by waiting until after meeting with the funeral home director when my father-in-law died. A complete stranger made his memorial before I even got home from the meeting.) Imagine my surprise when I discovered that someone had taken my Dad’s photo from his online obituary and added it to the memorial that I created. Considering that I’m also the one who provided the photo for the funeral home to use, if the family had wanted his photo on his FindAGrave memorial, I would have added it.

Now, imagine my surprise, frustration, and dismay to discover that even though I created Dad’s memorial, I couldn’t delete this photo.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you can do. Under the photo there should be a caption, “Added by [username] on [date].” Click on the username and it will take you to that person’s profile. At the top of the profile, you’ll see a button to “Send Message.”

Screenshot of Find A Grave Send Message button

Even though some FindAGrave users have an email address in their profile, I prefer the “Send Message” option, as it lets FindAGrave see that you did try to contact them, should you need to escalate matters.

In your message, request that the photo be removed and why. Also include the FindAGrave memorial number. (Some people have literally thousands of photos that they’ve added; including the memorial ID will get let them know exactly what you’re referring to.)

Here’s the message that I sent to the person who stole posted my Dad’s photo:

Subject Line: Please Remove Photo
Message: Hello. Please remove the photo of my father, [name redacted], that you added to his memorial #[redacted]. If my family had wanted his photo posted, I would have done so when I created his memorial. I appreciate your assistance with this.

Ok, yeah, I might have sounded a bit snippy, but that’s how I was feeling. I’m not sure why someone would go through online obits and add the person’s photo to a memorial that already exists. We’re not talking about someone who died decades ago. We’re talking about a photo of someone who just died. Frankly, it was disturbing to me that someone did that.

The person did delete my dad’s photo, but what if he or she didn’t? Or what if they had turned off getting messages through FindAGrave? If it’s a photo that you have copyright to, contact FindAGrave directly at support@findagrave.com. Explain that the user has not removed the photo and that you are the copyright holder. Be sure to include the FindAGrave memorial number so that they can correctly identify it.

A Word About Copyright and Photos in Obituaries

Many families provide photos for obituaries (either in print or online). Doing so does NOT mean that they relinquish copyright. In other words, just because a family allows a photo to be published with the obituary, it does NOT mean that others can copy that photo and use it however they wish. 

Let me repeat that. Just because a photo is used in a print or online obituary, it does NOT mean that anyone can copy that photo and use it how they wish. That includes posting it on FindAGrave.

“But I’m trying to help.” Ok, stop and think for a second. First, it isn’t yours to copy. (See above.) Second, if the family provided the photo for the obit, that means that someone in the family has that photo. It isn’t like the photo is gone forever if the obit goes away.

But most importantly — it hurts the family. “Oh, but Amy, it can’t hurt. Most people don’t even know about FindAGrave.” That might be true, but they do know about Google. And what a lot of people do when they are grieving is to seek out connections to that loved one. (Death of a loved one is often what triggers an interest in family history.) So they Google mom’s name or grandpa’s name…. and they find a memorial on FindAGrave, complete with the photo that they themselves provided for the obituary.

As someone who contacted me when I went public with my experience with this, it feels unnerving.

Please, be sensitive to the families of the recently deceased. If you aren’t the one who took the photo of the deceased, don’t post it.

 

 

Posted: July 25, 2021.

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  • Great Blog, my experience was similar except someone created a Find A Grave memorial from my father’s obituary and also included the photo and transcribed the obituary which I wrote. I found out months later when I was ready to create the memorial with an updated picture of the engraved tombstone, since my mother passed years before. I was livid and after I calmed down, I requested the memorial and edit the obituary to remove the names of the living.

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you, but happy that the person removed the photo. This happened to me with my grandmother, except she knew me and transferred the memorial to me. I learned of it on the day of the memorial and to say the least, I was pretty peeved. That’s not a feeling to have when going to celebrate the life of a loved one. She had posted the the obituary, too, but I quickly deleted that. People don’t realize that these obituaries have living people listed in them.

  • You got me curious as I can remember coming across an entries on the internet, with pictures, of my in-laws. So I just googled them.

    No Find a grave, which is good as their ashes are in urns, not at a cemetery. But the InMemorium.ca webpages for both come up. The full obituary and pictures (provided by me back in 2012 to the funeral home) were submitted to that site by the funeral home.

  • Thanks for this information. I completely agree with your approach. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on those individuals who add entire family trees to their extended family tree even when they have been requested not to by others.

  • Thinking out loud…….

    Wonder why there isn’t some vetting process when a memorial on Find-A-Grave is created? Example: only family members can create a memorial and edit the memorial within 45 days of death. Family member relationship must be proven at time of application. I am sure this can be worded differently, or there may be other options that would achieve the same end.

    Rather the family of the deceased must do all the leg work to make a change come about, yet the original memorial creator has to do little in creating the memorial by comparison.

    • We’ve been trying to get FindAGrave to do something about this for years. They refuse to even acknowledge there’s an issue.

      • Amy, Find A Grave hasn’t ignored it. They “take no position” on the timing of creating a memorial. That wasn’t an oversight. It was a deliberate statement so they are acknowledging what you think is “an issue”. Obviously, they don’t see it that way. If you’ll remember when they had the blog post about memorials for the recently deceased, they didn’t once mention imposing a waiting period where a memorial could not be created for a certain time period.

  • Thank you for this information. But I have a questions about photos taken from FindAGrave.com and posted on Ancestry.com. How do you get them to removed the photos from Ancestry.com? I have sent numerous messages to the individual that posted the photos on Ancestry.com asking where that person got the photos along with if they copied them from FindAGrave.com to please remove the photos. No response from that individual and the photos are still on Ancestry.com. I have also posted under my bio not to copy my “People” photos. So can you help me?

    • If you have the copyright to the photo, you can contact both FindAGrave and Ancestry to have the photos removed.

      • Thank you, Amy for the above advice on my photos. But I am having a hard time with some of the other comments on this blog. Like calling FindAGrave.com contributors, “Harvesters” and “Vultures”. Some of these FindAGrave.com contributors have worked for years walking cemeteries to add the memorial pages and grave/headstone photos to FindAGrave.com. Most are very kind and caring people but yes, there can always be bad apples in anything, which we should all remember. Some may call me, a harvester or a vulture but my daughter and I have been looking under FindAGrave.com contributor managing memorials that they now manage because the creator has died or retired or other reasons from managing FindAGrave.com memorial pages. There are over a million memorial pages that need a contributor to maintain them.

        • Not intending to speak for anyone, but I believe that the “harvester” label is being applied to those who are creating memorials based on funeral home website listings before the funeral even takes place. That’s what has been so hurtful. I, too, have been a FG volunteer for many years, walking countless cemeteries; I’ve been appreciative of the volunteers who have helped me find my ancestors’ final resting places. The issue isn’t the memorials created by strangers for someone who died decades ago; it’s when a stranger creates a memorial for someone who isn’t even buried yet.

    • According to the Terms of Service, when you post a photo on Find A Grave, you are giving users the right to repost on any other Ancestry-owned website.

  • The ‘living people’ or surviving relatives of the deceased are already listed in the newspaper or online obituaries from the family and funeral homes. Since that information is already public information, I don’t see any problem including the obituary with Find A Grave. It’s one of the best ways to find relatives of the deceased and sometimes provides further family information which you might not have.

    • There are many reasons not to. It’s against FG policy to post the obits. The obituary is covered by copyright; unless you’re the copyright holder, you don’t have the right to post it. But there’s also the tenet of ethical genealogy that you don’t publish things about living people without their permission. Yes, the survivors gave the obit writer their permission to be in the obit, they didn’t give their permission for someone else to post it on FG.

      • Thank you for this statement. I also had the problem with my parents, a double funeral. When I was finally mentally able to get on FaG to add their info, I found that someone else had already added the info, the obit, complete with living info, and photos. This upset me so much it was another 6 months before I could get back on. I contacted the original poster and she did easily give me the management of my parents’ memorial. Now I will go back and also ask for the control of my grandparents, aunts and uncles. Thank you so much for this helpful information.

    • But often times the obits include errors, one such if the family was a split family and siblings or even the other parent have been left off out of anger. For example My grandmother had two children with “Red”, they divorce and he married “Mary”, they have three children. One of those children passed away last year, in her obit the siblings from his current marriage were listed but not the siblings from his first marriage. I have seen a published book that now only lists said siblings because “Findagrave has it on their memorial, it must be true”. Even the creator will not add the other two siblings, that I felt if they were going to include any siblings should include them all. I’ve seen obits where the birth father was replaced by the step father because the siblings from the current marriage or even the mother did not like the him. There again the memorial creator would not correct it because “the obit is always correct and did not include him”.

  • Someone else created a memorial for my mother-in-law on the day of her death. They used her obit and photo from the funeral home website, but those were not posted until a couple of days after her death. It upset me but I did not request a transfer. Maybe I will now. I just looked at it and noticed that this unknown person has linked her with incorrect information about one of her siblings.

    I did contact Findagrave when someone who had asked for my pictures of a family graveyard to post on the county’s genweb site posted them under her name to Findagrave. Findagrave took them down. I later created memorials for the relatives in that cemetery.

    I, too, have had people post my photos from Findagrave on ancestry.com. It angers me when I get a “leaf” on ancestry, referring to a photo I took with, someone else’s name, whom I never heard of, as the contributor.

  • AJC, I always feel a comfortable warmth when I read your notes and posts. You’re so reasonable, and you always seem to anticipate just the question I would be asking. I’m especially upset over a couple of things with F/G: A person who works at the local library puts a “photo” of the short obituary then creates a memorial. She manages hundreds of memorials this way, and has apparently only relinquished a few to others. The memorial is for my grandfather’s brother. I have cousins who are his grandchildren, but apparently they do not wish to manage memorials, though they disagree and want changes made. I have several family memorials that I manage only to be able to add photos or notes, etc. The “owner” of the uncle’s memorial has titled it wrong and it is impossible to find when searching. The title is not as it should be, merely exactly as the grave marker appears, but she titled it similar to the obit. Wrong. She lives in the town and works within five miles of the cemetery, but doesn’t bother herself to get a photo of the grave. I am hundreds of miles away, an no relative lives in the town any more. So, I went so far as to ask admin to help me get this one transferred to me, but I was told this is a “volunteer” who has gone to the trouble to make this memorial and, tho not related, is not required to transfer to me, not a direct relative. I’m sure I had it at one time, as I have his wife’s, who lies right next to him. He has the same name as our great grandfather, and I was once contacted by someone telling me I had made a duplicate and should delete it, which I had not and did not, then my copy was deleted! So there are some who rate better than others of us. It has gotten nasty!
    Also, a cousin I know in Iowa made burial plans with her husband and set a marker in place. They are very much alive. Someone came along (whom we are distantly related to, and who probably doesn’t know or care whether the couple is alive or not!). This person found an article/biographical record of this couple, probably in a church publication. This has been published verbatim, including photos, naming all of their several children, siblings, explicit dates and addresses, etc. I just saw this couple in the spring, and they are very much alive and came all the way across the country to visit, so they are both far from dead. I find there is nothing we can do about this. I’m appalled. So frustrating. I wrote to admin and my email was not answered. I don’t believe this is what F/G was supposed to be. Even though many memorials have full genealogical information, I don’t think this was the purpose, either, but allowed due to the incredible zeal of researchers. But the competition and aggressive methods of some have made me wonder what they are thinking.
    If you have further suggestions, I’d appreciate.

  • “Managing a memorial means that the manager can add edit the information on the memorial and add an additional 10 images.”

    I believe the allowance for the number of photographs has been changed to 5, according to the experience today of a friend of mine.

    • I just re-read the support page and I think you’re correct. The additional 10 images is for someone who “sponsors” a memorial. I’ve made that correction on the post.

  • A different, but related situation. I have found memorials to cousins twice removed that were not related to the person that created them. I wanted to add biographies to them, which you can only do if you manage the memorial. After trying for months to request a transfer, both by suggest other edits and by direct email through the address listed on their profile page, I looked at their memorials and found they had not done anything for over 10 years, so they were not doing anything on Find A Grave. They stated in their profile they would gladly transfer memorials, but if they are not on Find A Grave, not responding to emails, and possibly dead themselves, what can I do. Has anyone else dealt with this. Since they are not in the 4 generation direct descent will FAG do a transfer? I also have another where I want transfer of the memorial of 3 children of my ggrandmother that died in infancy, so there can be no direct descendants. Again the memorial manager is not related and is not responding.

    • I would suggest in both of those cases to contact FindAGrave at support@findagrave.com. In the case of the first situation, it sounds like the person might be deceased. As for the second situation, I know of someone who went through FG support to get the memorial of his childless aunt transferred from a non-family member. (There were some extenuating circumstances in his case.) Good luck!

  • Thank you so much for this information! Someone had already created a memorial for my husband’s family. I was waiting until the family decided what to do with her ashes. I just requested and received managment for her memorial. It occurred to me this could also be a good way to find cousins. Harvesters are easy to spot, as they “manage” so many memorials. lol I found a few memorials that Find a Grave was managing and they transferred ownership to me on those, also. I guess they are considered “orphans”. Again, thanks so much for this post.

    • Someone created a memorial for my husband almost immediately after he died. It was a person who has 1000s of memorials…just reading obits and creating.I contacted the person and explained I wasn’t ready for a memorial and that I would create one when I was. They did remove it. A good while time later I created one.

      I also saw a memorial for a cousin that was still living. The person saw her name on her tombstone with her deceased husband. The birth date was already engraved. Because of the year of her birth they “assumed” that she had died and no one added the death date. That was not the case. I contacted them and they removed it. Sadly she has now died at 101. Unfortunately a lot of people have turned it into a numbers game.

      Adding someone to the wrong cemetery is a problem as well. I have been to the cemetery, seen the marker, have other proof but they won’t change it. And won’t discuss it or show info they might have.. That just continues to add wrong information in people’s genealogy….as it gets copied and recopied in Ancestry…I have many of my FG photos on Ancestry as well and I didn’t put them there.

      Thanks for the article..obviously a lot of us have had issues. I have connected with a lot of great people thru FG but also had problems.

  • My mother died in Iowa about 10 years after my father died in Washington state. Both were buried in a Catholic cemetery in Nebraska. A FindAGrave contributor created a listing for both of my parents in a similarly named cemetery in Iowa. When I tried to ask the contributor to delete the listings, she refused and wrote a comment that implied I didn’t know where my mother was buried. Someone else on FindAGrave had already created a correct listing for my mother in Nebraska, which the contributor politely transferred to me. I had to get support for FindAGrave to delete the listings in the wrong state. The contributor tried to put her name on the correct listing by uploading our family photo. It was deleted by support with a lesson on copyright law. This contributor has a spiteful virtual cemetery with “stolen” listings which includes my mother. It is still there over a decade later. I think they collect certain last names as they are the owner of the listing for my great great grandfather. They are definitely not a descendant. I wish funeral homes would immediately create a basic FindAGrave listing while doing funeral arrangements to thwart the vultures.

  • Someone created a memorial for my dad before he was even buried. They didn’t put the obit or any photos though, and they did transfer it to me when I asked. It was still really upsetting. I wasn’t ready for it then.

  • I’m in a fairly frustrating and upsetting situation of my mom’s memorial being managed by a total stranger. Some complete stranger had created a memorial for her, copied and pasted the entire obituary and photo into it, and then put in some additional inaccurate information. In the meantime I asked this person to correct some incorrect information on my mom’s memorial page. They refused because it would be “inaccurate” information. This is my MOM- I know what I am talking about! Any request to have the memorial transferred to me was denied (even though findagrave’s FAQ says it must be transferred if an immediate family member requests for it to be). I emailed findagrave’s support but so far have received no response.

  • I had a problem with an ancestry site (‘m not certain off hand if it was ancestry . com or another one. It was not familysearch . org.) Someone had posted that my mother was dead and buried in the cemetery. They went so far as to list a place of death. The proof they gave that mother was dead was that she was over 90. (Never mind that her mother lived to 99 years, 4 months of age.) I was, to say the least, unhappy that this had been posted. I contact the site and asked them to remove the information since my mother was, in fact, living. Not only that, but she had moved from her presumed “place of death” almost a half century earlier. Since the person who had posted the information was a paternal 3rd cousin of mine I posted in the Facebook group that my mother was alive and that a certain person should not have posted what they had posted. What did he do? He reposted the same false information! I contacted the individual who had responded to the issue the first time and asked him to remove it again. I also asked him to contact the offender and tell him not to enter the information again. Brother, was my 3rd cousin mad! He posted on the family Facebook page that he had a right to enter information about my mother since she was his relative. I pointed out that while she was my mother, she was his second cousin twice removed IN LAW.

    I discovered a 4th cousin on familysearch . org . She told some of the frustration she had experience on ancestry.com . Someone hacked her account and had taken it over. In addition, they managed to hack her email and had stolen photos off her computer! Wow! Was that a nasty thing to do!

    Abuses can happen on any of the on-line sites. Sometimes people feel they are being helpful. Sometimes they think they are right when they are wrong. Sometimes a lot of things can go wrong. I feel your frustration when people put things in Find a Grave that doesn’t belong there.

  • Hi Amy, thank you for this blog. I’m a Find a Grave volunteer for many years now, and have never received anything but thanks for creating memorials for non-relatives and/or posting photos. Most of us volunteers are trying to do the right thing and would never want to hurt or anger anyone, so I much appreciate your perspective on this tender subject. On the other hand, I HAVE had pushback from some other volunteers when I’ve come across duplicate memorials and messaged each creator politely requesting they work it out so that the duplicates become one complete memorial. I do this in the spirit of improving Find a Grave and I do not go looking for duplicates. Some are extremely possessive of “their work” and simply don’t want to let go of anything they’ve done. We all need to be more than happy to correct/delete/transfer memorials we’ve created, as appropriate.

    • I’ve been a FindAGrave volunteer for many years, and I know the work that goes into making a good memorial. I’m thankful for the volunteers who have helped me find the final resting place of my ancestors. It’s a shame that there are some volunteers who don’t share your sense of empathy and responsibility when it comes to creating memorials and adding photos for the recently deceased.

  • Thank you, Amy! I didn’t know I could request a transfer. I don’t even know the person who created a memorial for my mother. I just sent off several transfer requests today. I have learned so much from you.

  • Thank you so much Amy, for this wonderful posting. I am so sorry for this happening to you. It happened to me when my sister passed away. Her obituary picture got added to her memorial page as well. Now that I know this information I will follow your directions and see if I can get it removed. Now does this copyright thing work when I add pictures to my on-line Ancestry tree, which is public, and others grab these pictures and put them on their trees yet they are so far removed it makes no sense. I am not as rattled by that as I was my sister’s picture. Thanks Amy.

  • Thanks for this. My Mother passed away last September, on one side of the country. Due to Covid, we have waited until the one year anniversary, to have her interred, on the other side of the country. I was checking Find a Grave, for other relatives, buried at the same cemetery; to make sure I get pictures and pay my respects. I was shocked to see my Mother’s Find a Grave profile. It also listed her birth city and country wrong, as the city is also located somewhere else in the world, and it pops up first.. I entered a correction which came through; and the person said it would be great to get a picture. I asked where they got the information and then realized that they had added her complete obit. They didn’t respond to that query. As per one of the other comments below, I’m not happy living people are listed. Is it a thing, that people look through the paper and enter obits onto Find A Grave; even before the person is buried?? Thanks for showing how to get it transferred to me; I will try these steps.

  • Your article makes it sound like I would have to transfer a memorial I created if the person requesting it is a direct descendant within 4 generations EVEN if I am also a direct descendant within 4 generations???? Does this mean if I refuse to transfer they can go directly to findagrave, site their relationship and get it transferred???? Does findagrave somehow end up judging who is a close relationship???? What a mess.

    • If you’re both within the 4 generations, you shouldn’t have to transfer it. Back when I used to work at Ancestry, the unofficial rule in such cases was it would go to the person who is more closely related. Someone reached out to me last week and said that was no longer the case; I have not verified that. There are always going to be exceptions that would need to be worked out through FG support.

      • Reason I’m concerned … I had someone recently ask me to transfer my GGgrandfather’s memorial who was born in 1825. She said he was her grandfather. I replied with my relationship listing my ancestors going back to him. When I asked how she fit into our family, she just replied again that he was her grandfather or maybe great grandfather with no details on her line back to him. I’m 62 and didn’t think it was possible for her to have that close a relationship to someone born in 1825. So I did some public searches and genealogy digging and found that she was no closer a relationship to him than I. When I sent her the lineage I had found for her, I let her know that I wanted to continue maintaining his memorial since we had the same relationship to him. So now I’m worried she could go to support and have it removed anyway.

  • Amy, I know what you mean by being upset! In our area there are a couple of people who seem to be competing to see which can be first to post the memorial on FindAGrave. My friend had the same thing happen with her dads grave. But she was finally given the memorial.