Some Kentucky Laws Related to Cemeteries
The following are some of the laws that are related to cemetery preservation. It is not a complete list and might not be up to date. Check www.lrc.ky.gov and your attorney for more information.
381.690 Protection of burial grounds by cities.
Whenever any burial grounds lie within the corporate limits of a city the governing authorities of the city shall protect the burial grounds from being used for dumping grounds, building sites, playgrounds, places of entertainment and amusement, public parks, athletic fields or parking grounds.
381.697 Cemeteries maintained by legal owners.
- Every cemetery in Kentucky except private family cemeteries shall be maintained by its legal owner or owners, without respect to the individual owners of burial plots in the cemetery, in such a manner so as to keep the burial grounds or cemetery free of growth of weeds, free from accumulated debris, displaced tombstones, or other signs and indication of vandalism or gross neglect.
- The owner or owners of public or private burial grounds, regardless of size or number of graves, shall protect the burial grounds from desecration or destruction as stipulated in KRS 525.115(1)(a), (b), or (c) or from being used for dumping grounds, building sites, or any other use which may result in the burial grounds being damaged or destroyed. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the owner or owners of public or private burial grounds when the public or private burial grounds have been desecrated, damaged, or destroyed as the result of a crime by another as defined by KRS 500.080.
- The owner or owners of private burial grounds shall be required to construct cemetery protection structures only if the burial ground is located in a county with a county cemetery board and if the board provides compensation to the private burial ground owner for supplies, labor, and other expenses associated with such construction. Effective: July 15, 2002
381.700 Care of burial grounds by owners.
The governing authorities of any city within whose corporate limits any burying grounds lie may require the owner or those having claims to the grounds to properly care for them.
381.710 Evidence of dedication or use of land as burying ground.
The fact that any tract of land has been set apart for burial purposes and that a part or all of the grounds has been used for burial purposes shall be evidence that such grounds were set aside and used for burial purposes. The fact that graves are not visible on any part of the grounds shall not be construed as evidence that such grounds were not set aside and used for burial purposes.
381.720 Abandoned cemetery in certain cities, proceedings to vest title in city.
Whenever in the opinion of the legislative body of a city of the first, second, third, fourth or fifth class a cemetery located within the boundaries of such city has been abandoned and the land comprising the said cemetery is needed for a public purpose, an ordinance may be enacted declaring such cemetery, as described by metes and bounds, to be abandoned and authorizing the city attorney to institute suit for the city or other governmental agency created by the city in the circuit court of the county in which the city is located against the property comprising the cemetery to declare the said cemetery abandoned and to vest title thereto in the said city, or any governmental agency created by it pursuant to or by authority of the Kentucky Revised Statutes.
381.755 Removal of grave or cemetery on application of landowner or county -- Procedure -- Expenses.
- Upon application of the owner of property upon which is located an abandoned grave or cemetery or whenever the fiscal court of any county deems it to be in the best interest of the county to remove and relocate any such grave or cemetery the court may issue an order or resolution authorizing such removal or relocation.
- The order or resolution for the removal and relocation of the grave or cemetery pursuant to subsection (1) shall specify and declare that at any time after the expiration of sixty (60) days after the first publication of notice of such intended action pursuant to KRS Chapter 424, the court shall direct the removal and relocation of the grave or cemetery.
- Expenses for removal and relocation of any grave or cemetery under the provisions of this section shall be paid by the individual requesting such removal or if the removal is made in the best interest of the county the expenses shall be paid from county funds.
- Any grave or cemetery removed under the provisions of this section shall be relocated in a suitable place at the expense of the person or county requesting such removal and relocation.
- For the purposes of this section a grave or cemetery shall be considered abandoned when left untended for a period of ten (10) years preceding the date of the resolution for removal and relocation of the grave or cemetery.
525.115 Violating graves.
- A person is guilty of violating graves when he intentionally:
- Mutilates the graves, monuments, fences, shrubbery, ornaments, grounds, or buildings in or enclosing any cemetery or place of sepulture; or
- Violates the grave of any person by destroying, removing, or damaging the headstone or footstone, or the tomb over the enclosure protecting any grave;or
- Digs into or plows over or removes any ornament, shrubbery, or flower placed upon any grave or lot.
- The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to ordinary maintenance and care of a cemetery nor the removal and relocation of graves pursuant to procedures authorized by and in accordance with applicable statutes.
- Violating graves is a Class D felony.
- The court shall order the defendant to restore the cemetery to its pre-damage condition.
- Any officer who certifies an abstract in violation of KRS 381.240 or 381.250 shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500) for each offense. In addition to such fine, the officer shall be liable personally and on his official bond to the person in possession of the lands, and to any and all other persons aggrieved thereby, to an action for damages sustained by such persons by reason of such certificate.
- Any person who violates any of the provisions of KRS 381.690 to 381.710 shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500) for each offense.
- Any person who fails to comply with the provisions of KRS 381.780 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined twenty-five dollars ($25) for each offense. Each day that the violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.
- Any person or corporation who violates KRS 381.697 shall be subject to a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25) nor more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250).
- Any person who fails to comply with any of the provisions of KRS 381.860 may be fined not more than one hundred dollars ($100) per day for each offense, and the county attorney and the Attorney General may prosecute the violator. In addition to the fine, the violator may be liable personally to any and all persons aggrieved by the violation and subject to an action for damages, plus court costs and plaintiffs' attorneys' fees.