A bill sponsored by 19th District Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen may soon allow you to bury family members in your backyard, front yard, side of your home...on any property you privately own.

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Say What?

HB 1037, Concerning Family Burial Grounds, would give "a natural person" the ability to declare property that they own as a "Family Burial Ground".  If you own the property individually, then all you need to do is decide the area.  If you co-own the property, you need to get signed permission form the other owner(s) in order to designate the area of land.

Photo by Rhodi Lopez on Unsplash
Photo by Rhodi Lopez on Unsplash
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You will not be able to designate a "Family Burial Ground" on property that is owned in conjunction with any legal entity.  I did some digging on the bill and, while it mentions disposal of cremated remains, alkaline hydrolysis remains, or composted remains, it doesn't prohibit you from burying a coffin six feet under the overhang.  Meaning, instead of buying a plot at the local mortuary or public cemetery, you could start the "INSERT NAME HERE" family burial ground in the southwest corner of your property.

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash
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Things You Can't Do on Your Family Burial Ground

Before you start thinking that you have enough property to take care of the extended family and begin taking plot reservations, you can't sell burial space on your private property.  Uncle Jim can't pay you to be buried on your private property.  That is expressly prohibited in HB 1037.  The goal is to give you the ability to have a space for loved ones (that's right, you do not have to be related), not a place to make a profit and compete with State licensed entities.

Things You Must Do on Your Family Burial Ground

The bill also established protocol you need to follow:

The property owner must record every burial within 30 days to the County Auditor.

You will also have to record:

  • The name of the deceased as it is on the death certificate
  • The date of birth and death of the deceased as it is on the death certificate
  • The name of the property owners and where the property is located
  • The latitude and longitude of the grave site (can be obtained by GPS) verified by two witnesses, the County Sheriff or Coroner or a designee of the County Sheriff or Coroner
Photo by Kenneth Rittener/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Photo by Kenneth Rittener/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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If you decide to sell your property you also must disclose the existence of the burial ground to the prospective buyers.

There is a Catch

The bill also gives Cities and Counties the ability to enact ordinances to prohibit Family Burial grounds in their jurisdictions even if the law passes.  the bill was pre-filed December 14th, had it's first reading and was referred to the House Committee on Civil Rights & Judiciary this past Monday (January 9th), had a public hearing in committee this past Tuesday (January 10th, and will have an executive session in committee this Friday the 13th.

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