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157.115 Abandonment of cemeteries and cemetery lots.

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157.115157.115Abandonment of cemeteries and cemetery lots.157.115(1)(1)Abandonment of cemeteries.157.115(1)(a)(a) If any cemetery located on property not subject to condemnation under ch. 32 is abandoned, the circuit court for the county in which the cemetery is located may authorize the removal of bodies from the cemetery to another cemetery upon the petition of 6 or more residents of the municipality in which the cemetery is located. Prior to authorizing the removal, the court shall publish a notice to all interested parties as provided in s. 879.05 (4). The court may not authorize the removal unless suitable arrangements have been made to reinter the bodies. 157.115(1)(b)(b) 157.115(1)(b)1.1. When a cemetery authority fails to care for the cemetery for a period of one or more years, the municipality in which the cemetery is located may take control of the cemetery, manage and care for the cemetery and collect and manage all trust funds connected with the cemetery other than trust funds received by a will. 157.115(1)(b)2.2. When a cemetery authority abandons or fails to manage or care for the cemetery for a period of 5 or more years, the municipality in which the cemetery is located shall take control of the cemetery, manage and care for the cemetery and collect and manage all trust funds connected with the cemetery other than trust funds received by a will. 157.115(1)(c)(c) Whenever any cemetery in a town is falling into disuse, or is abandoned or neglected, and by reason of the removal or death of the persons interested in its upkeep there exists no association or group with authority to transfer ownership and operation of the cemetery to the town, the town board, at the expense of the town, shall take charge of the cemetery and manage and care for it, and if the town board fails to take charge of the cemetery, the circuit judge may upon petition by 6 or more persons interested in the upkeep of the cemetery order its transfer to the town, including the transfer of all assets. Cemeteries so transferred shall be managed as provided for other town cemeteries. 157.115(2)(2)Abandonment of cemetery lots.157.115(2)(a)(a) In this subsection: 157.115(2)(a)1.1. "Abandoned lot" means one or more graves of a cemetery lot that is not owned by the cemetery authority of the cemetery in which the cemetery lot is located if those graves have not been used for the burial of human remains and if, according to the records of the cemetery authority, all of the following apply during the 50-year period immediately preceding the date on which the notice requirement under par. (c) is satisfied: 157.115(2)(a)1.a.a. No owner has transferred any ownership interest in the cemetery lot to any other person. 157.115(2)(a)1.b.b. No owner has purchased or sold another cemetery lot or a mausoleum space in the cemetery. 157.115(2)(a)1.c.c. No other grave in that cemetery lot or adjoining cemetery lot or adjoining mausoleum space that is owned or partially owned by an owner has been used for the burial of human remains. 157.115(2)(a)1.d.d. No grave marker, monument or other memorial has been installed on the cemetery lot. 157.115(2)(a)1.e.e. No grave marker, monument or other memorial has been installed on any other cemetery lot, in the same cemetery, that is owned or partially owned by an owner. 157.115(2)(a)1.f.f. No nameplate, monument or other memorial has been installed to identify the human remains that are buried within a mausoleum space, in the same cemetery, that is owned or partially owned by an owner. 157.115(2)(a)1.g.g. The cemetery authority has not been contacted by an owner or assignee or received any other notice or evidence to suggest that an owner or assignee intends to use the cemetery lot for a future burial of human remains. 157.115(2)(a)2.2. "Assignee" means a person who has been assigned in the deceased owner's will or in any other legally binding written agreement, or who is entitled to receive under ch. 852, an ownership interest in the abandoned cemetery lot. 157.115(2)(a)3.3. "Owner" means a person who, according to the records of the cemetery authority of the cemetery in which an abandoned cemetery lot is located, owns or partially owns the abandoned cemetery lot. 157.115(2)(b)(b) No cemetery authority may resell an abandoned cemetery lot unless the cemetery authority complies with the requirements in this subsection. 157.115(2)(c)(c) The cemetery authority shall mail to each owner, at each owner's last-known address, a notice of the cemetery authority's intent to resell the abandoned cemetery lot as provided in this subsection. If an owner is buried in the cemetery in which the abandoned cemetery lot is located or if the cemetery authority has any other evidence that reasonably supports a determination by the cemetery authority that the owner is deceased, no notice is required under this paragraph. 157.115(2)(d)(d) If no notice is required under par. (c) or if, within 60 days after notice is mailed under par. (c), no owner or assignee contacts the cemetery authority to express an intent to use the abandoned cemetery lot for a future burial of human remains, the cemetery authority shall publish in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the abandoned lot is located, a class 3 notice under ch. 985 that includes all of the following: 157.115(2)(d)1.1. The location of the abandoned lot. 157.115(2)(d)2.2. The name and last-known address of each owner. 157.115(2)(d)3.3. A statement that, unless an owner or assignee contacts the cemetery authority within the period specified in par. (e), the cemetery authority intends to resell the abandoned lot as provided in this subsection. 157.115(2)(e)(e) If within 60 days after notice is published under par. (c) no owner or assignee contacts the cemetery authority to express an intent to use the abandoned lot for a future burial of human remains, the cemetery authority shall bring an action in the circuit court of the county in which the abandoned lot is located for a judgment that the cemetery lot is an abandoned lot and an order transferring ownership of the abandoned lot to the cemetery authority. 157.115(2)(f)(f) If within one year after the circuit court enters a judgment and order under par. (e) no owner or assignee contacts the cemetery authority to express an intent to use the abandoned lot for a future burial of human remains, the cemetery authority may resell the abandoned lot, except as provided in par. (g). The payment of principal shall be deposited into the care fund. Before depositing the payment of principal into the care fund, the cemetery authority may retain an amount necessary to cover the cemetery authority's administrative and other expenses related to the sale, but the amount retained may not exceed 50% of the proceeds. 157.115(2)(g)(g) If at any time before an abandoned lot is resold under par. (f) an owner or assignee contacts the cemetery authority to express an intent to use the abandoned lot for a future burial of human remains, the authority may not resell the abandoned lot, and ownership of the abandoned lot shall be transferred to the owner or assignee. The cemetery authority shall pay all costs of transferring ownership under this paragraph. 157.115(2)(h)(h) Nothing in this subsection prohibits a cemetery authority from seeking the authority to resell more than one abandoned lot by publishing a single class 3 notice under par. (d) or bringing a single action under par. (e) that applies to all of the abandoned lots for which such authority is sought. 157.115 - ANNOT.History: 1989 a. 307 ss. 18m, 20, 28, 45.
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  • 157.115

    157.115 Abandonment of cemeteries and cemetery lots.

    157.115(1)

    (1) Abandonment of cemeteries.

    157.115(1)(a)

    (a) If any cemetery located on property not subject to condemnation under ch. 32 is abandoned, the circuit court for the county in which the cemetery is located may authorize the removal of bodies from the cemetery to another cemetery upon the petition of 6 or more residents of the municipality in which the cemetery is located. Prior to authorizing the removal, the court shall publish a notice to all interested parties as provided in s. 879.05 (4). The court may not authorize the removal unless suitable arrangements have been made to reinter the bodies.

    157.115(1)(b)

    (b)

    157.115(1)(b)1.

    1. When a cemetery authority fails to care for the cemetery for a period of one or more years, the municipality in which the cemetery is located may take control of the cemetery, manage and care for the cemetery and collect and manage all trust funds connected with the cemetery other than trust funds received by a will.

    157.115(1)(b)2.

    2. When a cemetery authority abandons or fails to manage or care for the cemetery for a period of 5 or more years, the municipality in which the cemetery is located shall take control of the cemetery, manage and care for the cemetery and collect and manage all trust funds connected with the cemetery other than trust funds received by a will.

    157.115(1)(c)

    (c) Whenever any cemetery in a town is falling into disuse, or is abandoned or neglected, and by reason of the removal or death of the persons interested in its upkeep there exists no association or group with authority to transfer ownership and operation of the cemetery to the town, the town board, at the expense of the town, shall take charge of the cemetery and manage and care for it, and if the town board fails to take charge of the cemetery, the circuit judge may upon petition by 6 or more persons interested in the upkeep of the cemetery order its transfer to the town, including the transfer of all assets. Cemeteries so transferred shall be managed as provided for other town cemeteries.

    157.115(2)

    (2) Abandonment of cemetery lots.

    157.115(2)(a)

    (a) In this subsection:

    157.115(2)(a)1.

    1. "Abandoned lot" means one or more graves of a cemetery lot that is not owned by the cemetery authority of the cemetery in which the cemetery lot is located if those graves have not been used for the burial of human remains and if, according to the records of the cemetery authority, all of the following apply during the 50-year period immediately preceding the date on which the notice requirement under par. (c) is satisfied:

    157.115(2)(a)1.a.

    a. No owner has transferred any ownership interest in the cemetery lot to any other person.

    157.115(2)(a)1.b.

    b. No owner has purchased or sold another cemetery lot or a mausoleum space in the cemetery.

    157.115(2)(a)1.c.

    c. No other grave in that cemetery lot or adjoining cemetery lot or adjoining mausoleum space that is owned or partially owned by an owner has been used for the burial of human remains.

    157.115(2)(a)1.d.

    d. No grave marker, monument or other memorial has been installed on the cemetery lot.

    157.115(2)(a)1.e.

    e. No grave marker, monument or other memorial has been installed on any other cemetery lot, in the same cemetery, that is owned or partially owned by an owner.

    157.115(2)(a)1.f.

    f. No nameplate, monument or other memorial has been installed to identify the human remains that are buried within a mausoleum space, in the same cemetery, that is owned or partially owned by an owner.

    157.115(2)(a)1.g.

    g. The cemetery authority has not been contacted by an owner or assignee or received any other notice or evidence to suggest that an owner or assignee intends to use the cemetery lot for a future burial of human remains.

    157.115(2)(a)2.

    2. "Assignee" means a person who has been assigned in the deceased owner's will or in any other legally binding written agreement, or who is entitled to receive under ch. 852, an ownership interest in the abandoned cemetery lot.

    157.115(2)(a)3.

    3. "Owner" means a person who, according to the records of the cemetery authority of the cemetery in which an abandoned cemetery lot is located, owns or partially owns the abandoned cemetery lot.

    157.115(2)(b)

    (b) No cemetery authority may resell an abandoned cemetery lot unless the cemetery authority complies with the requirements in this subsection.

    157.115(2)(c)

    (c) The cemetery authority shall mail to each owner, at each owner's last-known address, a notice of the cemetery authority's intent to resell the abandoned cemetery lot as provided in this subsection. If an owner is buried in the cemetery in which the abandoned cemetery lot is located or if the cemetery authority has any other evidence that reasonably supports a determination by the cemetery authority that the owner is deceased, no notice is required under this paragraph.

    157.115(2)(d)

    (d) If no notice is required under par. (c) or if, within 60 days after notice is mailed under par. (c), no owner or assignee contacts the cemetery authority to express an intent to use the abandoned cemetery lot for a future burial of human remains, the cemetery authority shall publish in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the abandoned lot is located, a class 3 notice under ch. 985 that includes all of the following:

    157.115(2)(d)1.

    1. The location of the abandoned lot.

    157.115(2)(d)2.

    2. The name and last-known address of each owner.

    157.115(2)(d)3.

    3. A statement that, unless an owner or assignee contacts the cemetery authority within the period specified in par. (e), the cemetery authority intends to resell the abandoned lot as provided in this subsection.

    157.115(2)(e)

    (e) If within 60 days after notice is published under par. (c) no owner or assignee contacts the cemetery authority to express an intent to use the abandoned lot for a future burial of human remains, the cemetery authority shall bring an action in the circuit court of the county in which the abandoned lot is located for a judgment that the cemetery lot is an abandoned lot and an order transferring ownership of the abandoned lot to the cemetery authority.

    157.115(2)(f)

    (f) If within one year after the circuit court enters a judgment and order under par. (e) no owner or assignee contacts the cemetery authority to express an intent to use the abandoned lot for a future burial of human remains, the cemetery authority may resell the abandoned lot, except as provided in par. (g). The payment of principal shall be deposited into the care fund. Before depositing the payment of principal into the care fund, the cemetery authority may retain an amount necessary to cover the cemetery authority's administrative and other expenses related to the sale, but the amount retained may not exceed 50% of the proceeds.

    157.115(2)(g)

    (g) If at any time before an abandoned lot is resold under par. (f) an owner or assignee contacts the cemetery authority to express an intent to use the abandoned lot for a future burial of human remains, the authority may not resell the abandoned lot, and ownership of the abandoned lot shall be transferred to the owner or assignee. The cemetery authority shall pay all costs of transferring ownership under this paragraph.

    157.115(2)(h)

    (h) Nothing in this subsection prohibits a cemetery authority from seeking the authority to resell more than one abandoned lot by publishing a single class 3 notice under par. (d) or bringing a single action under par. (e) that applies to all of the abandoned lots for which such authority is sought.

    157.115 - ANNOT.

    History: 1989 a. 307 ss. 18m, 20, 28, 45.

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