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Kentucky Cemetery Laws



Kentucky Cemetery Laws


KRS 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.

HISTORY: KS 2741p-1

Penalty, 381.8990(2)

KRS 381.697

Every cemetery in Kentucky except private cemeteries shall be maintained by its legal owner or owners, without respect to the 
individuals 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.

HISTORY: 1972 H 157, ▀ 2, eff. 6-16-72

Penalty, 381.990(2)(4)

KRS 381.700

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.

HISTORY: KRS 2741p-2.

Penalty, KRS 381.990(2)

KRS 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. Effective: 1 October 1942

History: Recodified 1942 Ky Acts Ch. 208, sec 1, effective October 1, 1942, from Ky Stat. Sec 2741 p.-3.

KRS 381.715 Burial Rights in cemetery lots; abandonment; resale by cemetery (amended 18 March 1994)

(1) As used in the section, äcemetery lotż is a lot containing one (1) or more grave spaces located within a cemetery registered 
pursuant to KRS 367.946 in a county containing an urban-county government or in a city.

(2) An officer of the cemetery may cause to be filed, on behalf of the cemetery an action in the circuit court of the county where 
the cemetery is located requesting that the burial rights in the unused portion of the lots in question be deemed abandoned and 
that the cemetery be authorized to sell the rights upon entry of the court╝s judgment. The defendants in the action shall be the 
unknown heirs of the original owner of the burial rights in the lots in question.

(3) The petition shall include the following:

(A) The name of the original owner of the burial rights in the lots in question.

(B) The name of all persons buried in the lots and the date of burial, if known.

(C) The name, address and telephone of the cemetery office.

(D) An affidavit by the petitioner that:

1. No person has been buried in the cemetery lots in question for a period of at least one hundred (100) years.

2. The identity of any owner of the burial rights in the lot in question or any heir of the owner is unknown to any officer or 
employee of the cemetery and not discoverable after a good faith attempt by an officer or employee to identify the owner or 

(4) Service of process shall be by warned order attorney, appointed by the court pursuant to CR 4.07.

(5) If the court finds the allegations set forth in paragraph (d) of subsection (3) of this section to be true, the court shall enter 
judgment deeming the burials rights in the lots in question abandoned and authorizing the cemetery to sell the rights.

(6) No judgment shall be entered declaring burial rights abandoned if an owner or heir of a cemetery lot has filed within the 
cemetery a statement in writing directing that certain grave spaces not be used.

HISTORY: 1984 c 267, ▀ 1, eff. 7-13-84

KRS 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 authority of the Kentucky Revised Statutes.

HISTORY: 1964 c 24, ▀ 1. Eff. 3-10-64

1954 c 29, ▀ 1


Abandonment or discontinuance of cemeteries. 14 Am Jur 2d, Cemeteries ▀ 21 to 24.

KRS 381.740 Assertion of claim to compensation for value of interest in cemetery or lot

Within thirty days after the last advertisement, and party having a claim to the cemetery or any lot therein or to the mortal 
remains of a person interred therein, may file his claim in the said proceedings for damages as compensation for the value of his 
interest in the cemetery or lot to which he has claim. Upon the filing of the aforesaid claim the circuit court shall appoint as 
commissioners three impartial housekeepers who are owners of land. They shall be sworn to faithfully and impartially discharge 
their duties. The commissioners shall view the land involved and they may hear evidence or make any inquiry they desire 
touching the value thereof and award to claimant who are owners thereof the value of the property taken. They shall return a 
written report to the office of the clerk of the circuit court describing separately the property which is subject of each claim. 
Either the claimant or the complainant may file exceptions to this report and demand a jury trial. The commissioners shall be 
allowed a reasonable fee which shall be taxed as cost.

HISTORY: 1964 c 24, ▀ 3, eff. 3-10-64

1954 c 29, ▀ 3


Property rights in lots or vaults; burial and incidental rights. 14 Am Jur 2d, Cemeteries ▀ 25 et seq.

KRS 381.750 Judgment; removal of bodies and monuments

If no claim is made within thirty days after the last advertisement, or if claims have been made and compensation duly paid 
either to the claimants or into court, the court shall declare the cemetery to be abandoned and enter judgment accordingly, 
vesting fee simple title in the complainant. Thereafter claimants shall have thirty days in which to remove the mortal remains and 
monuments from lots to which they have been adjudged to have claim, the reasonable cost thereof to be paid by the claimant. 
If, within thirty days after entry of judgment said remains have not been removed by the claimants thereto, it shall be the duty of 
such complainant, through its proper officers, to pay for the removal of the monument and the disinterment, removal, and the 
reinterment of such body, or bodies, in such other cemetery in the county in which said city is located as the protesting lot 
owner may designate, or if no designation be made, to another suitable cemetery in the county.

HISTORY: 1964 c 24, ▀ 4, eff. 3-10-64

1954 c 29, ▀ 4


Property rights to vaults and gravestones. 14 Am Jur 2d, Cemeteries ▀ 33

Changing place of interment. 22 Am Jur 2d, Dead bodies ▀ 22 to 28

Removal and reinterment of remains, 21 ALR2d 472

KRS 381.755 Removal of grave or cemetery on application of land owner or county; procedure; expenses

OAG 83-265. Liability for desecration of graves may exist when land that has been previously been used as a cemetery is 
reused as a cemetery without first removing and reinterring the remains of those previously buried there. There is no liability for 
desecration if the cemetery is abandoned so that nothing indicates there are graves in the ground, the person is without notice 
that graves exist, and the public no longer recognizes the land as a cemetery.

KRS 381.755 Removal of grave or cemetery on application of land owner or county; procedure; expenses

(1) Upon application of the owner of property on which is located an abandoned grave or cemetery or whenever the fiscal 
court or 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.

(2) 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 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.

(3) 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 by 
county funds.

(4) Any grave or cemetery removed under the provisions of this section shall be relocated in suitable place at the expense of the 
person or county requesting such removal and relocation.

(5) For the purposes of this section a grave or cemetery shall be considered abandoned when left untended for a period of ten 
years preceding the date of the resolution for removal and relocation of the grave or cemetery.

KRS 433.660

Any person who willfully 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 willfully destroying, removing or damaging the head 
or foot stones, or the tomb over the enclosure protecting any grave, or by digging into or plowing over or removing any 
ornament, shrubbery or flower placed upon any grave or lot shall be fined not less than ten dollars nor more than one hundred 
dollars, or imprisoned for not more then six months, or both.

KRS 525.105 Desecration of venerated objects, first degree.

(1) A person is guilty of desecration of venerated objects in the first degree when, other than authorized by law, he intentionally 
excavates or disinters human remains for the purpose of commercial sale or exploitation of the remains themselves or of objects 
buried contemporaneously with the remains.

(2) Desecration of venerated objects in the first degree is a Class D felony. (Enact. Acts 1988, ch 19, ▀ 1, effective March 30, 

KRS 525.110 Desecration of venerated objects, second degree.

(1) A person is guilty of desecration of venerated objects in the second degree when he intentionally:

(a) Desecrates any public monument or object or place of worship; or

(b) Desecrates in a public place the national or state flag or other patriotic or religious symbol which is an object of veneration 
by the public or a substantial segment thereof.

(2) Desecration of venerated objects in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

Enact. Acts 1974, ch 406, ▀ 221; 1988, ch 119, ▀ 2, effective March 30, 1988; 1992, ch. 420, ▀ 3, effective July 14, 1992).

KRS 525.115 Violating graves

(1) A person is guilty of violating graves when he intentionally:

(a) Mutilates the graves, monuments, fences, shrubbery, ornaments, grounds, or buildings in or enclosing any cemetery or place 
of sepulture; or

(b) 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

(c) Digs into or plows over or removes any ornament, shrubbery, or flower placed upon any grave or lot.

(2) The provision 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.

(3) Violating graves is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class D felony for each subsequent offense.

(Enacts. Acts 1992, ch. 420, ▀ 2, effective July 14, 1992.)

KRS 525.120 Abuse of a corpse

(1) A person is guilty of abuse of a corpse when except as authorized by law he intentionally treats a corpse in a way that 
would outrage ordinary family sensibilities.

(2) Abuse of a corpse is a Class A misdemeanor.