Minnesota Public Cemetery. While the terms Minnesota Private Cemetery and Minnesota Private Cemeteries are not defined by any Minnesota statute, the term Minnesota Public Cemeteries is defined by M.S., Section 306.87.

Minnesota Public Cemeteries - Minnesota Public Cemetery

Minnesota Public Cemetery – Minnesota Public Cemeteries

And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said,

It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.

And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.

Matthew 27, Verses 6-7. KJV

Minnesota Public Cemeteries – Defined

The statutory definition of Minnesota public cemeteries is found in M.S., Section 306.87, which provides in part as follows:

306.87 DEFINITIONS.

Subdivision 1.  Applicability.

Unless the language or context clearly indicates that a different meaning is intended, the following definitions apply to this chapter.

Subd. 3.   Public cemeteries.

All cemeteries started or established as public cemeteries and

all cemeteries hereafter started or established,

except cemeteries established by religious corporations,

are public cemeteries within the provisions of . . . chapter [306].

According to the above – somewhat circular – definition, public cemeteries are those cemeteries which:

  1. Were started or established as public cemeteries prior to the adoption of the original version of the statute in 1911; or
  1. Were started or established after 1911 – other than those cemeteries established by religious corporations – which may be formed pursuant to M.S. Chapter 315, or pursuant to M.S. Chapter 317A.

However, omitted from the M.S., Section 306.87, Subd. 3 definition of Minnesota public cemeteries is an exception for cemeteries established by individuals, which is authorized by M.S. Section 307.01, which provides in part as follows:

Any private person and any religious corporation

may establish a cemetery on the person’s or corporation’s own land

It would not appear that Minnesota private cemeteries formed by individuals should be operated as Minnesota public cemeteries subject to the provisions of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 306, rather than Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 307, but that perhaps could be the result given the statutory definition of Minnesota public cemeteries:

Unless the language or context clearly indicates that a different meaning is intended, . . .

Therefore, it could reasonably be argued that the language or context of M.S., Section 306.87 – read in the light of M.S. Section 307.01 – would lead one to conclude that Minnesota cemeteries established by individuals are not public cemeteries subject to the provisions of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 306.

Minnesota Public Cemeteries – Burial Sites

While Minnesota public cemeteries are privately owned, the purchase of burial sites in Minnesota public cemeteries is generally open to the public without any membership criteria.

However, a Minnesota public cemetery having special provisions in its articles of incorporation may restrict the burial of persons to members of certain religious faiths.

Religious-based discrimination in Minnesota cemeteries is discussed https://dahlelawcemeteries.com/religious-discrimination-sale-minnesota-cemetery-lots/.

Minnesota Statutes Governing Public Cemetery Associations

Pursuant to M.S., Section 306.01, Minnesota public cemetery associations existing on March 1, 1906, were permitted to:

  • continue under the forms of organization adopted by them, and
  • retain the rights and powers then possessed.

However, Minnesota cemetery associations established after March 1, 1906, were to be organized under, and governed by, Minnesota Statutes Chapter 306.

Minnesota Chapter 306 – Corporate Purposes

Section 306.02, Subdivision 1 identifies the permissible corporate purposes and powers of a Minnesota public cemetery association or corporation, by providing in part as follows:

Subdivision 1.   Purpose and method of formation.

A corporation or association may:

  1. be formed to procure and hold or sell lands or lots exclusively for the purpose of a public cemetery;
  2. acquire and manage all real and personal property necessary or proper to establish, embellish, care for, and manage a cemetery, and may construct and operate on that property a crematory and other proper means of disposing of the dead; and
  3. sell and convey cemetery lots or sell and convey real or personal property acquired by it but not needed for cemetery purposes.

Manner of Formation of a Minnesota Public Cemetery Association

Section 306.02, Subdivision 1 also identifies the manner in which a Minnesota public cemetery association or corporation is to be formed, by providing in part as follows:

The corporation or association

  • may be formed by three or more persons,
  • who shall
  • execute and verify the certificate or articles of incorporation as required
  • in the matter of the formation of other corporations.

The certificate of incorporation

  • shall be recorded in the office of the county recorder of the county where the cemetery is located and
  • upon filing, the association is a corporation.

The above provision authorizes the formation of a public cemetery corporation or association which has not been organized pursuant to any other Minnesota statutory corporate authority – similar to the manner in which religious corporations are formed under Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 315.

However, since a number of Minnesota public cemetery associations are currently operating under the authority of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 317A, Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 306 is not the only statutory authority for the operation of Minnesota public cemetery associations.

Minnesota Chapter 317 Nonprofit Corporations

Prior to January 1, 1991, some Minnesota non-profit corporations were governed by Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 317, the predecessor body of non-profit law to Chapter 317A.

M.S Section 317.05 formerly identified that a Minnesota nonprofit corporation could be formed under that chapter for any lawful purpose, including a religious purpose.

Minnesota Chapter 317A Nonprofit Corporations

Minnesota nonprofit corporations organized under Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 317A are formed by filing a certificate or articles of incorporation with the Minnesota Secretary of State.

Therefore, in order for a Minnesota nonprofit corporation organized under Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 317A to:

  • become a Minnesota public cemetery association or corporation,

a certified copy of the corporation’s articles of incorporation would have to be:

If the lands upon which the Minnesota  public cemetery are to be located constitute registered “Torrens” property, then it would be advisable to discuss the filing requirements with the Registrar of Titles for such County.

Minnesota nonprofit corporations organized under Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 317A are further discussed at https://dahlelawchurches.com/minnesota-chapter-317a-churches/.

Minnesota Public Cemetery Size Limitations

Pursuant to M.S., Section 306.05, a Minnesota public cemetery association or corporation may acquire no more than 300 acres of land to be used for cemetery purposes, by providing in part as follows:

Every such corporation may own, by purchase or gift, in the county where it is located and in an adjoining county, a maximum of 300 acres of land to be used and occupied exclusively

  • for the burial or cremation of the dead and
  • for other purposes necessary or proper to those purposes.

Filing of a Minnesota Public Cemetery Survey Map

Once a Minnesota public cemetery association or corporation has acquired such land, M.S., Section 306.05, identifies the manner in which the land to be used for cemetery purposes is to be mapped and filed in the public records, by providing in part as follows:

Land required for that purpose must be surveyed and divided into lots of a size determined by the trustees, with the avenues, alleys, and walks they consider proper.

A map of the survey must be filed with the county recorder of the county where the cemeteries is located.

Minnesota Public Cemetery Power of Eminent Domain

M.S., Section 306.05, identifies that a Minnesota public cemetery association or corporation has the power of eminent domain to acquire additional land for cemetery purposes, by providing in part as follows:

When the corporation desires to enlarge its cemetery and cannot agree with the owners of the land desired for the cemetery, the land may be acquired under the power of eminent domain. However,

  • public necessity, propriety, and convenience requiring the proposed enlargement,
  • together with the boundaries of the cemetery,

 shall be first established and determined as issues of fact.

Sale of Lots by a Minnesota Public Cemetery Association

The sale of cemetery lots in a Minnesota public cemetery – for burial purposes only – is authorized by M.S., Section 306.09, which provides in part as follows:

After the filing of a map under section 306.05 the trustees

  • may sell and convey the lots designated on the map
  • upon terms and conditions as they determine.

Every conveyance of a lot

  • must be expressly for burial purposes and no other and
  • must be in the corporate name of the association and signed by its president or vice-president and by its treasurer or secretary.

The sale of cemetery lots in a Minnesota public cemetery will be subject to the rules and regulations of the Minnesota public cemetery association or corporation.

Sale of Lots in a Minnesota Public Cemetery by Individual Owners

The sale of cemetery lots in a Minnesota public cemetery by individual lot owners is governed by M.S., Section 306.15.

Testamentary Disposition of Cemetery Lots in a Minnesota Public Cemetery

The permitted disposition of a Minnesota cemetery lot upon the death of its registered owner is contrary to many of the normal assumptions and procedures that would be familiar to a Minnesota probate attorney.

Descent of Cemetery Lots in a Minnesota Public Cemetery

The descent of cemetery lots in a Minnesota public cemetery by individual owners in the absence of a testamentary transfer permitted by M.S., Section 306.29, is governed by M.S., Section 525.14.

The Burial of Persons May be Limited to a Certain Religious Faith

M.S., Section 306.02, Subd. 3 identifies that certain public cemetery corporations or associations may limit the burial of persons to the same religious faith, by providing in part as follows:

A cemetery association affiliated with a religious corporation

by such a provision in its articles

may provide for the acquisition of other cemetery properties within the state

for the burial of persons of the same religious faith, exclusively.

However, any such religious affiliation must be identified in the articles of incorporation of the public cemetery corporation or association.

Minnesota Public Cemetery – Minnesota Public Cemeteries

For a discussion of Minnesota probate law, see https://dahlelawprobate.com/

For a discussion of Minnesota probate law, see also  https://www.dahlelawminnesota.com/

For a discussion of Minnesota probate law, see also https://dahlelaw.com/minnesota-probate/

For information on Minnesota Church Corporation law, see Minnesota Church Law.

For information on Minnesota Transfer on Death Deeds, see http://www.dahlelawminnesota.com/minnesota-transfer-death-deed/

For information on Minnesota Real Estate Law, see http://www.dahlelawminnesota.com/minnesota-title-evidence-ownership/

For information on Minnesota Guardianships, see http://dahlelawguardianships.com/

Topics of Interest:

Copyright 2018 – All Rights Reserved

No claim to the text of statutory provisions, administrative documents, or judicial decisions.

Gary C. Dahle – Attorney at Law

Minnesota Probate and Cemetery Law Attorney

2704 Mounds View Blvd., Mounds View, MN 55112

Phone:  763-780-8390    Fax: 763-780-1735

gary@dahlelaw.com

Legal Disclaimer

Information provided herein is only for general informational and educational purposes. The laws relating to Minnesota cemeteries involve many complex legal issues. If you have a specific legal problem about which you are seeking advice, consult with legal counsel.

Gary C. Dahle, Attorney at Law, is licensed to practice law only in the State of Minnesota, and in the State of North Dakota, in the United States of America. Therefore, only those persons interested in matters governed by the laws of the State of Minnesota, or North Dakota, should consult with, or provide information to, Gary C. Dahle, Attorney at Law, or take note of information provided herein.

Accessing the web site of Gary C. Dahle, Attorney at Law – https://dahlelawcemeteries.com – or www.dahlelawcemeteries.com – may be held to be a request for information. However, the mere act of either providing information to Gary C. Dahle, Attorney at Law, or taking note of information provided on https://dahlelawcemeteries.com – or www.dahlelawcemeteries.com does not constitute legal advice, or the establishment of an attorney/client relationship.

Nothing herein will be deemed to be the practice of law or the provision of legal advice. Clients are accepted by Gary C. Dahle, Attorney at Law, only after preliminary personal communications with him, and subject to mutual agreement on terms of representation.

If you are not a current client of Gary C. Dahle, Attorney at Law, please do not use the e-mail links or forms to communicate confidential information which you wish to be protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Please use caution in communicating over the Internet. The Internet is not a secure environment and confidential information sent by e-mail may be at risk.

Gary C. Dahle, Attorney at Law, provides the https://dahlelawcemeteries.com – or www.dahlelawcemeteries.com web sites and their content on an “as is” basis, and makes no representations or warranties concerning site content or function, including but not limited to any warranty of accuracy, completeness, or the current nature of the information.

Minnesota Cemetery Links

Minnesota Association of Cemeteries: https://www.mncemeteries.org/

Find a Minnesota Cemetery: https://www.mncemeteries.org/find-a-cemetery

Minnesota Private Cemetery Statutes: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=307

Minnesota Public Cemetery Statutes: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=306

Links to Minnesota Probate Records

Minnesota Department of Health – Death Records Index – 1997 to Present:  http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/osr/DecdIndex/dthSearch.cfm

Minnesota Historical Society – Death Records; 1904 – 2001: http://www.mnhs.org/people/deathrecords

Minnesota Department of Health – Birth Certificateshttp://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/osr/birth.html

Minnesota Historical Society – Birth Records: http://www.mnhs.org/people/birthrecords

Minnesota Marriage Recordshttps://moms.mn.gov/