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Funerals/Church cemetary


I have family buried in an old church cemetery that has fallen into disrepair.  Myself and several other individuals raised money and constructed new retaining walls and have been cleaning the cemetery up.  Now, the church has contacted me and told me I can not do any more repairs.  I know under KY law they have the obligation to maintain the property.  They haven't.  As a descendent of many of the people buried there, do I have any legal standing to maintain the property.

The consumer Affairs dept. in the AG's office regulates cemeteries and is very consumer friendly. I don't know if Mary Ann Dailey is still there, but here's her e-mail -- -- Tell her Lisa Carlson sent you.

Here is one article they sent me years ago--

In receiving surveys, conducting site visits and talking with citizens, the Task
Force identified a number of common issues.
A. Access Issues:
Issues involving access generally
involve small private cemeteries. Among
these issues are the following:
1. Physical access for
descendants, friends and
historians or historical
societies can be problematic
due to the lack of public or
even passable roads or paths.
2. Denial of access by propert
3. Visitors' interference with
rights of propert owner
including privacy, agricultural
activities, etc.
4. Lack of understanding of the
legal rights and responsibilties
of all parties.

Issue Analysis:
No Kentucky statute specifically provides for the right of access to cemeteries.
As early as 1871, however, court have held that relatives of the deceased have a
right of access to the cemeteries in which the deceased are buried. In the case of
Hutchison v. Akin et al., Ky., 5 Ky.Op. 373 (1871), the court held that a propert
owner was compelled to "permit the relatives of (those) buried there to exercise the
right of ingress and egress to and from said cemetery on proper occasion and for
proper purposes."

Since that time, Kentucky courts have further clarified their position on access
to cemeteries. In Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife
Resources v. Garner, 896 S.W.2d 10 (1995), the Kentucky Supreme Court held that
"(t)he right of ingress and egress to a cemetery is to be used for proper occasion
and proper purposes. The right of ingress and egress and its dimension is not
unqualified." lei at 13. Rather, both the propert owner and the relative of the
deceased must exercise their respective rights without violating the rights of the
other. "The owners of the easement and the servient estate have correlative rights
and duties which neither may unreasonably exercise to the injury of the other."

In applying that standard, the Court stated that a propert owner could not make
access "materially inconvenient." lei On the other hand, individuals visiting the
cemetery "must be reasonable and as little burdensome to the landowner as the
nature and purpose of the easement wil permit."

The Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Offce mediates
disputes regarding access several times each year. In these situations, once the law
is explained to both parties, the issue is usually resolved. Several nearby states
have enacted legislation clarifying access rights and responsibilties. It is
recommended below that the General Assembly pass legislation clearly defining the
right of access to private family burial grounds. See Recommendations, Section ix

B. Desecration issues
Issues arising that concern cemetery desecration include:
1. Destruction through neglect or natural processes.
2. Destruction by vandalism.
3. Encroachment and destruction by private or public development, e.g.,
residential, commercial, industrial, transportation.
4. Destruction by livestock or agricultural, logging operations or mineral
5. Desecration through improper burial practices.
6. Lack of understanding of legal rights and responsibilties.


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Lisa Carlson


Funeral Law. Having written a 512-page book on funeral law for consumers with state-by-state information, I am very conversant with consumer rights in this regard: What are the laws on disposition of cremated remains? Is embalming required? Do I have to use a funeral home? Can I have a home wake? Is it a state law to buy a vault? I prepaid for a funeral but changed my mind. They won`t give me all my money back. What can I do? . . . If you have an immediate need for information because a death has just occurred or is about to occur, you may call me at 802-482-6021.


I have monitored the funeral industry on behalf of consumers for over 20 years. I have been a guest speaker to funeral trade organizations, consumer workshops, and social service professionals. I am regularly consulted by lawyers and legislators as well as journalists.

Funeral Ethics Organization ( Funeral Consumers Alliance (

Caring for Your Own Dead (1987) Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love (1998) I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch (2001) Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death (2011) with co-author Joshua Slocum

Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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