How to Correct Wrong Information on a Gravestone

An incorrect gravestone can add to the pain a grieving family is going through.

Despite a person’s best efforts, mistakes happen, even on gravestones. Some gravestones contain incorrect information about military service or honors the deceased person received, while others may contain the wrong birth date or year of death. Some may have an incorrect spelling of someone’s name, while others do not include a deceased person's maiden name. Genealogists who rely on this information often run into confusion over incorrect gravestones, while families and friends of the deceased may be hurt or insulted by the mistake. Fortunately, there are steps to take to correct wrong information on a gravestone.

Consider buying a new stone instead. Going through the process of getting a gravestone corrected can take time, money and patience. A cheaper alternative is to get a new gravestone carved and put it in the old stone’s place.

Contact the stone company. Most headstone-carving companies have a clause in their contract about errors appearing on gravestones, and how they cannot be held liable for such mistakes. Nevertheless, be firm that you want this correction to be made. Be prepared to pay a fee for this service, especially if the carving information included the mistake on the paperwork signed. Some stonemasons may correct the mistake for free, particularly if it was their own mistake during the carving.

Get in touch with your local Veterans Affairs office. If the deceased person is a veteran and his honors and/or branch of service is incorrect, the VA office will begin the process of correcting the mistake. This may take time, and you may need to replace the tombstone yourself, but the VA will make sure this information is fixed and the veteran is recognized properly for his service.

Do it yourself. Contact cemetery officials and explain the situation. Tell them you had little success in getting a corrected gravestone to replace the incorrect one. Request permission to correct the gravestone yourself. If they agree, you will need to apply a patch to the incorrect information and chisel in the correct information. It may make the stone look different, but the information will be correct.

Dawn Colclasure has written for the newspaper, "SIGNews," since 2003 and has been published in several different newspapers and magazines. Dawn also writes books on writing and the paranormal. She lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon.