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Laws: Care And Custody Of Dead

Date of Meeting: May 10, 2016

1. The duty of burying the body of a deceased individual devolves upon the surviving husband or wife if the deceased was married or, if the deceased was not married but left kindred, upon one or more individuals in the same degree, of adult age, nearest of kin to the deceased and possessed of sufficient means to defray the necessary expenses.

2. If the individual who has the duty of burial does not bury the body within the time required by this chapter, the individual next specified shall bury the body.

3. If the deceased is not survived by an individual described by subsection 1 and did not leave sufficient means to defray funeral expenses, including the cost of a casket, the county social service board of the county in which the deceased had residence for county general assistance purposes or, if residence cannot be established, the county social service board of the county in which the death occurs shall employ some person to arrange for and supervise the burial or cremation. If the deceased was a resident or inmate of a public institution, the county in which the deceased was a resident for county general assistance purposes immediately before entering the institution shall employ a person to arrange for and supervise the burial or cremation. Each board of county commissioners may negotiate with the interested funeral directors or funeral homes regarding cremation expenses and burial expenses but the total charges for burial services, including transportation of the deceased to the place of burial, the grave box or vault, grave space, and grave opening and closing expenses, may not be less than one thousand five hundred dollars. The county social services board may provide for the use of a military casket or urn, if the deceased was a veteran as defined in section 37-01-40, unless the additional cost exceeds the negotiated expenses of this section or a surviving spouse or the nearest of kin of the deceased elects a nonmilitary casket. The county social service board shall pay the charge for funeral expenses as negotiated by the board of county commissioners, less any amount left by the deceased to defray the expenses.

Any entity owning, conducting, or maintaining a cemetery or plot for the burial of dead human bodies may use the procedures in this section to reinvest itself with the title to a portion of a cemetery which was conveyed by deed to a person but which has not been used for purposes of burial for more than sixty years.
 
1. The entity owning, conducting, or maintaining a cemetery may pass a resolution demanding that the owner of a portion of a cemetery which has been unused for more than sixty years express an interest in the cemetery plot. The entity shall personally serve a copy of its resolution on the owner in the same manner as personal service of process in a civil action. The resolution must notify the owner that the owner must, within sixty days after service of the resolution on the owner, express an interest in retaining the unused cemetery plot.
 
2. If the owner of the unused plot cannot personally be served with a copy of the resolution of the entity because the owner cannot be found in this state or for any other valid reason, the entity shall publish its resolution for three consecutive weeks in the official newspaper of the county where the cemetery is located and shall mail a copy of the resolution within fourteen days after the third publication to the owner's last-known address.
 
3. If within sixty days after personal service or after publication of the board's resolution is completed, the owner or person with a legal interest in the cemetery plot fails to express an interest in retaining the unused cemetery plot, the owner's rights are terminated and title to that person's plot reverts to the entity owning, conducting, or maintaining the cemetery.
 
4. It is a conclusive presumption that an owner has abandoned a cemetery plot if for a period of more than sixty years the owner has not used any portion of the lot for purposes of burial and has not made provision for care of the lot beyond that provided uniformly to all lots within the cemetery and if the owner has failed to express an interest in retaining the cemetery plot after notice provided in this section
All persons, corporations, municipalities, associations, and organizations owning, conducting, or maintaining a cemetery or plot for the burial of dead human bodies shall:
 
1. Provide for a sexton or secretary.
 
2. Cause the lot or parcel of ground used and designated as a cemetery to be platted into orderly blocks and lots, alleys and streets or driveways, giving to each a distinctive name or number that must be a permanent designation of its location.
 
3. File the original plat with the recorder of the county in which the cemetery or place of burial is located and the copy or blueprint thereof with the sexton or secretary.
 
4. Register with the state department of health the name and location of the cemetery or place of burial, the name and address of the sexton, and the name and address of other officers of the cemetery association, corporation, or organization.
 
5. Furnish such information and reports as the state department of health may require including the submission of plans and specifications for review and approval before constructing, erecting, or placing on the burial site for the burial or disposition of any human remains any interment structure or device constructed or placed wholly or partially above the natural surface of the ground.
 
6. Keep a local register of all burials showing as to each burial the name of the deceased, the date and location of burial, the date of death, and the name and address of the undertaker.