Cemetery Associations

According to the Vermont Secretary of State’s Digging Deep: Unearthing the Mysteries of Burial and Cemetery Law publication, published in 2010:

There are three kinds of cemeteries in Vermont; those operated by a municipality, those operated by a cemetery association (an “incorporated cemetery”) and those operated by a religious institution or ecclesiastical society. The law was written to ensure that old cemeteries that were organized prior to 1933 continued to be lawful, even if they did not technically comply with current requirements of law.18 V.S.A. § 5303. However, the law is clear that “every cemetery established after June 1, 1933, which is not owned and operated by a town or by a religious or ecclesiastical society must be established, owned and operated by a cemetery association.” 18 V.S.A. § 5431. Note that the law also recognizes private burial grounds which are generally a portion of private land that has been used as a family burial ground. 18 V.S.A. § 5322.

Every cemetery that is not owned and operated by a town or by a religious or ecclesiastical society must be established, owned and operated by a nonprofit corporation which is called a cemetery association. 18 V.S.A. §§ 5431, 5432.

A cemetery association is formed by filing articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. Once the articles of incorporation are filed, the incorporators and other members will form “a body corporate” with “perpetual succession and with capacity to perform all acts within the state not repugnant to law.” 18 V.S.A. § 5433. Cemetery associations may merge upon a vote of the majority of the trustees or directors of each corporation. 18 V.S.A. § 5440.

Moving to the Vermont Secretary of State’s Corporations database, a search for active cemetery associations turns up about 120 active, non-profit “incorporated cemeteries”.