State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > Wisconsin > 157 > 157.11


157.11 Improvement and care of cemetery lots and grounds.


(1) Fence; funeral building. A cemetery authority may enclose the grounds of its cemetery with a suitable fence, and may erect thereon a building for funeral services.


(2) Regulations. The cemetery authority may make regulations for management and care of the cemetery. No person may plant, in the cemetery, trees or shrubs, nor erect wooden fences or structures or offensive or dangerous structures or monuments, nor maintain them if planted or erected in violation of the regulations. The cemetery authority may require any person owning or controlling a cemetery lot to do anything necessary to comply with the regulations by giving reasonable personal notice in writing if the person is a resident of the state, otherwise by publishing a class 3 notice, under ch. 985, in the county. If the person fails to comply within 20 days thereafter, the cemetery authority may cause it to be done and recover from the person the expense. The cemetery authority may also impose a forfeiture not exceeding $10 for violation of the regulations posted in 3 conspicuous places in the cemetery, recoverable under ch. 778. Each employee and agent of the cemetery authority shall have constable powers in enforcing the regulations.


(3) Contracts. The cemetery authority may contract with persons who own or are interested in a cemetery lot for its care. The contract shall be in writing, may provide that the cemetery lot shall be forever exempt from taxes, assessments or charges for its care and the care and preservation of the grounds, shall express the duty of the cemetery authority, be recorded in a book kept for that purpose, and be effective when the consideration is paid or secured.


(4) Associations of relatives. Persons owning a cemetery lot or having relatives buried in a cemetery may incorporate an association to hold and occupy a previously constituted cemetery, and to preserve and care for the same. Section 157.062 shall apply to the association. Nothing in this subsection shall give rights of burial. A municipality may lease a municipal cemetery to a cemetery association for preservation and may contract to permit the association to use cemetery funds therefor. Such leases and contracts may be revoked at will by the municipal board.


(5) Sum required. The cemetery authority shall annually fix the sum necessary for the care of cemetery lots and care and improvement of the cemetery, or to produce a sufficient income for those purposes.


(7) Assessments.


(a) The cemetery authority may annually assess upon the cemetery lots amounts not to exceed the amounts reasonably required for actual and necessary costs for cleaning and care of cemetery lots and care and improvement of the cemetery. Notice of the assessment, along with a copy of this section, shall be mailed to each owner or person having charge of a cemetery lot, at the owner's or person's last-known post-office address, directing payment to the cemetery authority within 30 days and specifying that such assessments are a personal liability of the owner or person.


(b) The cemetery authority may fix and determine the sum reasonably necessary for the care of the grave or cemetery lot in reasonable and uniform amounts, which amounts shall be subject to the approval of the court, and may collect those amounts as part of the funeral expenses.


(c) Before ordering distribution of the estate of a deceased person, the court shall order paid any assessment under this section, or the sum so fixed for the care of the cemetery lot or grave of the deceased.


(d) When uniform care of a cemetery lot has been given for 2 consecutive years or more, for which assessments are unpaid, after notice as provided in sub. (2), right to burial is forfeited until delinquent assessments are paid. When uniform care has been given for 5 consecutive years or more and the assessments are unpaid, upon like notice, title to all unoccupied parts of the cemetery lot shall pass to the cemetery authority and may be sold, the payment of principal to 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.


(8) Gifts. The cemetery authority shall take, hold and use any gifts, or the income and proceeds of any gifts, as may be made in trust or otherwise, for the improvement, maintenance, repair, preservation or ornamentation of any cemetery lot or structure in the cemetery, according to the terms of the gift and regulations by the cemetery authority.


(9) Handling of property received as gift.


(a) Before a cemetery authority receives a gift, the surety bonds of the cemetery authority shall be increased to cover such amount if it does not then do so. If the bonds are not filed, or the cemetery authority fails to do anything required by this subsection, the judge may appoint a trustee, and all property and money so given and evidences of title and securities shall be delivered to the trustee.


(9g) Care fund for cemetery lots.




1. Except as provided in ss. 66.0603 (1m) (c) and 157.19 (5) (b), funds that are received by a cemetery authority for the care of a cemetery lot shall be invested in one or more of the following manners:


a. Deposited and invested as provided in s. 157.19.


b. Deposited with the treasurer of the county or city in which the cemetery is located if the governing body of the county or city accepts such deposits.


c. If not invested as provided in subd. 1. a. or b., otherwise deposited by the cemetery authority in an investment approved by the cemetery board if the care funds are segregated and invested separately from all other moneys held by the cemetery authority.


2. The manner in which the care funds are invested may not permit the cemetery authority to withdraw the care fund's principal amount. The income from the investment of a care fund for the care of cemetery lots may be used only to maintain the cemetery lots and grounds, except that if the amount of income exceeds the amount necessary to maintain the cemetery lots or grounds properly, the excess amount may be used to maintain any other portion of the cemetery, including mausoleums. If the care funds are deposited with a city or county, or previously deposited with a village, there shall be paid to the cemetery authority annually interest on funds so deposited of not less than 2% per year. The governing body of any city or county, or any village or town in the case of previous deposits, may determine to return all or a part of any funds deposited by a cemetery authority, and that cemetery authority shall accept the returned funds within 30 days after receiving written notice of that action. If the cemetery authority is dissolved or becomes inoperative, the county or city shall use the interest on the funds for the care and upkeep of the cemetery. Deposit shall be made and the income paid over from time to time, not less frequently than once each year, and receipts in triplicate shall be given, one filed with the county clerk, one with the cemetery authority and one given to the person making the deposit. Deposits shall be in the amount of $5 or a multiple thereof. Records and receipts shall specify the cemetery lot for the care of which the deposit is made. Reports of money received for care and of money and property received as gifts shall be made annually as provided in s. 157.62 (2).


(b) Anyone having in custody or control any cemetery care trust fund received other than by testament shall, upon demand, deliver it to the cemetery authority to be handled as provided in this subsection.


(c) Except as provided in sub. (11), any cemetery authority that sells a cemetery lot on or after November 1, 1991, shall deposit 15% of each payment of principal into a care fund under par. (a) within 30 days after the last day of the month in which the payment is received, except as provided in sub. (7) (d) and s. 157.115 (2) (f). The total amount deposited must equal 15% of the total amount of all payments of principal that have been received, but not less than $25.


(9m) Action by district attorney. If any money or property is not turned over when required by this section, or default occurs under a bond, the district attorney, upon the request of the department of regulation and licensing, shall bring action to recover.


(9r) Tax and other exemptions. Gifts and trusts under this section shall be exempt from taxation and the law against perpetuities, accumulations and mortmain.


(10) Exemption for religious societies. Subsections (1) to (9), (9g) (a) and (b), (9m) and (9r) do not apply, but sub. (9g) (c) does apply, to a religious society organized under ch. 187.


(11) Exemption for certain nonprofit cemeteries. Subsection (9g) does not apply to a cemetery authority that is not required to be licensed under s. 440.91 (1) and that is not organized or conducted for pecuniary profit.

157.11 - ANNOT.

History: 1971 c. 41 s. 12; 1977 c. 449 ss. 234, 497; 1979 c. 32 s. 92 (8); 1979 c. 110 s. 60 (13); 1985 a. 200; 1985 a. 316 s. 25; 1987 a. 190; 1989 a. 307; 1991 a. 269; 1999 a. 150 s. 672; 2001 a. 30; 2005 a. 25; 2007 a. 174.

157.11 - ANNOT.

Cross Reference: See s. 863.09 (2) for court order concerning care of graves.

157.11 - ANNOT.

Cross Reference: See s. 701.11 (3) for authorization to distribute small trusts to cemeteries.

157.11 - ANNOT.

Cross Reference: See also chs. RL 53 and 54, Wis. adm. code.

157.11 - ANNOT.

Sub. (9) (e) [now sub. (9g) (b)] neither requires nor authorizes payment to entities other than ch. 157 cemetery associations. Krawczyk v. Bank of Sun Prairie, 161 Wis. 2d 792, 468 N.W.2d 773 (Ct. App. 1991).