Upkeep of Family Cemetery on Association Grounds

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J.L. from Tolland County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’m presently working with an association that was developed on an old family farm. On the farm lies the family cemetery with a historical marker on it. Presently our landscaper takes care of the family cemetery out of the kindness of his heart. My question is; in this type of situation, who is ultimately responsible for the upkeep of the cemetery?

Cheers!

Mister Condo replies:

J.L., that is very kind of your association landscaper to take care of the family cemetery. My advice is to check with the original development plans for the association to see if, in fact, any mention of the cemetery and/or its upkeep is listed as provisions for the development of the association. It is quite possible that there is a clause in the original documents that states the cemetery shall remain a cemetery for life. It may also include a provision for the association to provide upkeep, in which case, the association should add that care to the landscaper’s contract. If the documents make no mention of the cemetery and/or its care the association may be free to remove the grave and inter the contents elsewhere such as a more suitable public cemetery or such. Alternately, if the grave adds a touch of history to the common area and is of interest to the association, the association could simply vote to upkeep the cemetery and add the upkeep to the landscape contract. If you are uncertain as to what the documents state, I would advise consulting with an attorney to make sure the association doesn’t break a covenant with the original land owner. That could be a costly and painful mistake for the association and the living members of the deceased family members buried in the cemetery. At the very least, you have described an unusual problem. I wish you good luck in finding a suitable solution.

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