Minnesota public cemetery associations have two statutory procedures which may be used for recovering abandoned Minnesota cemetery lots.

Recovering Abandoned Minnesota Cemetery Lots

Recovering Abandoned Minnesota Cemetery Lots –

Quiet Title Judicial Action

That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field;

for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a burying place amongst you.

Genesis 23, Verse 9 – KJV

Minnesota Public Cemetery Associations – Recovering Abandoned Minnesota Cemetery Lots

Minnesota public cemetery associations have two statutory procedures which may be used to recover legal title to abandoned cemetery lots:

  1. A quiet title judicial action – pursuant to M.S. Section 306.21 through M.S. Section 306.241; and
  2. A non-judicial private action – pursuant to M.S. Section 306.242.

The quiet title judicial action offers special procedures with respect to Minnesota cemetery lots which were sold before 1925.

Minnesota Private Cemeteries – Recovering Abandoned Minnesota Cemetery Lots

The only statutory procedure available to Minnesota private cemeteries to recover legal title to abandoned cemetery lots is the quiet title judicial action pursuant to M.S. Section 306.21 through M.S. Section 306.241.

Such statutes – even though located in that chapter of the Minnesota statutes generally applicable to public cemetery associations – are applicable to Minnesota private cemeteries pursuant to specific statutory authority identified in M.S. Section 307.11.

Quiet Title Judicial Action – Requirements

M.S. Section 306.21, Subd. 1(b) identifies the requirements for the recovery of legal title to abandoned cemetery lots in a quiet title judicial action.

(i)      Cemetery Association Requirements

 In order to proceed with a quiet title judicial action, M.S. Section 306.21, Subd. 1(b) identifies that the public cemetery association (or private cemetery) must have:

  • owned a cemetery site for more than 40 years,
  • sold lots and parcels in the cemetery site for burial purposes, and
  • conveyed such lots and parcels by deeds of conveyance – with or without restrictions.

(ii)     Cemetery Lot Owner Requirements

In order to proceed with a quiet title judicial action, M.S. Section 306.21, Subd. 1(b) also identifies that the cemetery lot owner – or parties claiming through such owner (hereinafter, the “Owner”) – must meet the requirements of at least one of two tests:

A. The First Test

The Owner, for a period of time which exceeds:

  • 75 years in counties having a population over 50,000 – according to the 1960 federal decennial census, and
  • 50 years in all other counties,
  1. has not used any part of the cemetery lot or lots for burial purposes,
  2. has not provided care for the cemetery lot or lots beyond that provided uniformly to all lots within the cemetery, and
  3. during that time, has not provided to the public cemetery association or private cemetery a written notice of claim or interest in such cemetery lot or lots.

Therefore, under the First Test, the public cemetery association or private cemetery must be able to provide to the court an affidavit or other testimony certifying that:

  1. no person is buried in the cemetery lot or lots; and
  2. the Owner:

In lieu of satisfying the requirements of the First Test, the public cemetery association or private cemetery may proceed with a quiet title judicial action if the Owner:

  • has not used parts of the cemetery lot or lots for burial purposes,
  • has not kept the cemetery lot or lots free of weeds or brush, and
  • has allowed the cemetery lot or lots to remain entirely unimproved for more than 20 years,

and the cemetery lot or lots:

  • are located in that part of the cemetery which is adjacent to improved parts of the cemetery, and
  • by reason of their unimproved condition,
    • detract from the appearance of the cemetery,
    • interfere with its harmonious improvement, and
    • furnish a place for the propagation of growth of weeds and brush.

Therefore, under the Second Test, the public cemetery association or private cemetery must be able to provide to the court an affidavit or other testimony certifying that:

  1. no person is buried in the cemetery lot or lots;
  2. the Owner has not kept the cemetery lot or lots free of weeds or brush;
  3. the Owner has allowed the cemetery lot or lots to remain entirely unimproved for more than 20 years, and
  4. the cemetery lot or lots are located in that part of the cemetery which is adjacent to improved parts of the cemetery, and by reason of their unimproved condition:
  • detract from the appearance of the cemetery,
  • interfere with its harmonious improvement, and
  • furnish a place for the propagation of growth of weeds and brush.

(iii)    Governing Board Resolution

 In order to proceed with a quiet title judicial action, M.S. 306.21, Subd. 1(a) identifies that the governing board of the public cemetery association or private cemetery must have adopted a resolution requiring that the Owner either:

  1. keep the cemetery lot or lots clear of weeds and in a condition in harmony with other adjoining lots or parcels; or
  2. file with the public cemetery association or private cemetery within 60 days after service of a copy of the resolution:
  • a written notice of claim of their interest in their lot or parcel,
  • supported by satisfactory evidence of the interest.

Therefore, the public cemetery association or private cemetery must be able to provide to the court:

  • a copy of the required resolution, and
  • an affidavit or other testimony evidencing that the Owner has failed to satisfy the above requirements.

(iv)    Service of the Governing Board Resolution

In order to proceed with a quiet title judicial action, M.S. 306.21, Subd. 1(a) identifies that the resolution of the governing board of the public cemetery association or private cemetery must be served upon the Owner in the same manner as a complaint in a civil action.

Service in a civil action is generally accomplished by:

  • personal delivery of legal papers by a non-party to the party named as a defendant in the civil action, and
  • filing with the court an Affidavit of Service identifying that the plaintiff has satisfied the personal delivery requirements.

However, if the Owner cannot be located within the State of Minnesota:

(v)     Effect of Service of the Governing Board Resolution

M.S. Section 306.22 identifies that if, for 30 days after May 1 following the date of:

  • personal service upon the cemetery lot owner, or
  • publication in a legal newspaper in the proper county,

of the resolution authorized by M.S. Section 306.21, the Owner fails to conform with its demands:

  1. the Owner’s rights in the cemetery lot or lots may be considered abandoned, and
  2. the public cemetery association or private cemetery may, with the approval of its governing board, bring an action in the district court of the county against all parties in default, uniting as many parties in default as it may desire in one action, to have:
  • their rights in the cemetery lot or lots terminated by a judge, and
  • the cemetery lot or lots restored to the public cemetery association or private cemetery corporation, free of any right, title, or interest of the Owner, and any heirs or assigns.

However, any such quiet title judicial action cannot include:

  • that part of any cemetery lot or lots in which a human body lies buried,
  • together with sufficient ground to provide a proper approach to such cemetery lot or lots.

Any such excepted cemetery lot or lots or access parcels must beparticularly and fully described” – which may require the services of a licensed surveyor.

Quiet Title Judicial Action – Cemetery Lots Sold Prior to 1925

M.S. Section 306.21, Subd. 2 identifies an alternate procedure with respect to the recovery of legal title to abandoned cemetery lots in a quiet title judicial action when the Minnesota cemetery lots were sold before 1925.

(i)      Cemetery Association Requirements – Cemetery Lots Sold Prior to 1925

 In order to proceed with a quiet title judicial action with respect to Minnesota cemetery lots which were sold before 1925, M.S. Section 306.21, Subd. 2 identifies that:

If an incorporated cemetery association has

sold lots and parcels for burial purposes before 1925,

with or without restriction,

  • that have not been used for burial purposes and
  • the owners have not
    • maintained the lots or
    • paid the fees required by the association of lot owners for care and upkeep

for a period of at least 15 years,

the association may by resolution of its governing body

demand that the owners or holders of the lots pay the association the fees owed for care and upkeep in the period during which the fees were not paid.

Contents of the Resolution – Cemetery Lots Sold Prior to 1925

M.S. Section 306.21, Subd. 2 identifies the required contents of any such resolution, by providing in part that:

The resolution must state the amount of fees due for each lot, without interest, and declare that if that amount is not paid to the association by the persons claiming to be owners within 90 days that the described lots and all interest in them will be considered abandoned to the association.

Service of the Resolution – Cemetery Lots Sold Prior to 1925

M.S. Section 306.21, Subd. 2 requires that any such resolution be properly served upon the owner(s) of the cemetery lot, by providing in part that:

The resolution must name all of the persons shown by the records of the association to have a claim of ownership to the lots described and must be served in the manner required for service of a resolution by subdivision 1.

Upon the achievement of proper service, the public cemetery association or private cemetery corporation may proceed with the quiet title judicial action.

Recovering Abandoned Minnesota Cemetery Lots –

Quiet Title Judicial Action

M.S. Section 306.22 identifies that the required quiet title judicial action under that provision is generally the same in all respects as it is in ordinary actions to determine title to real estate.

Legal Assumptions in the Quiet Title Judicial Action

M.S. Section 306.23 identifies that in all quiet title judicial actions brought under M.S. Section 306.22 in which the following facts are established, the Owner of the cemetery lot or lots will be determined to have abandoned the cemetery lot or lots – in the absence of evidence to the contrary:

(1)       the Owner of the cemetery lots or parcels:

  • has not used portions of the lots or parcels for burial purposes for more than:
  • 75 years in counties having a population over 50,000 – according to the 1960 federal decennial census, and
  • 50 years in all other counties,

and

  • during that time
  • has not made any provision for the care of the cemetery lot or lots beyond that provided uniformly to all lots within the cemetery, and
  • has not given to the corporation a written notice of claim or interest in the cemetery lot or lots;

or

(2)       the Owner of the cemetery lot or lots has, for a term of 20 years or more,

  • not used the cemetery lot or lots, or definite parts thereof, and
  • failed to keep the cemetery lot or lots, or parts thereof, clear of weeds or brush.

Affidavit of Evidence – Recovering Abandoned Minnesota Cemetery Lots

The public cemetery association or private cemetery must be able to provide the court with an affidavit or other testimony certifying that:

  1. no one is buried in the cemetery lot or lots; and
  2. the Owner:
  • has not – for the required period of time – properly cared for the cemetery lot or lots,
  • has failed to keep the cemetery lot or lots clear of weeds or brush during such time period, and
  • has not – during the permitted period of time – given the required notice of claim or interest in the cemetery lot or lots to the public cemetery association or private cemetery.

Recording of the Judgment Obtained in the Quiet Title Judicial Action

M.S. Section 306.24 identifies that a certified copy of any judgment obtained in a quiet title judicial action may be recorded in the office of the County recorder in the county in which the cemetery lot or lots are located.

However, unless the original conveyance of the cemetery lot was recorded in the office of the County recorder in the county in which the cemetery lot or lots is located, recording a certified copy of any judgment obtained in the quiet title judicial action may not provide any practical benefit to the prevailing public cemetery association or private cemetery – other than to preserve in the public record evidence of satisfaction of the requirements for recovery of the cemetery lot.

 Conclusion:

Recovering Abandoned Minnesota Cemetery Lots – 

Quiet Title Judicial Action

Please contact Gary C. Dahle – Attorney at Law, for assistance with the recovery of any abandoned Minnesota cemetery lots – quiet title judicial action.

Copyright 2017 – All Rights Reserved

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

 

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

Minnesota Probate and Cemetery Law Attorney

Gary C. Dahle – Attorney at Law

2704 County Road 10, Mounds View, MN 55112

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

gary@dahlelaw.com

Topics of Interest – Recovering Abandoned Minnesota Cemetery Lots

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.

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Minnesota Cemetery Links;

Recovering Abandoned Minnesota Cemetery Lots

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/