Digging Deep: Unearthing the Mysteries of Burial and Cemetery Law

Copied from the introduction to the 2007 document by the Vermont Secretary of State:

Dear Readers:
There is no better way to connect with the history of a place than to visit its cemetery. Indeed, when Vermont was first settled in the 1700s one of the first signs of community life was the creation of a cemetery. Many of these early cemeteries still exist today, and a visit to these old burial grounds can tell us a lot about life in Vermont at the time. While most Vermonters will visit a cemetery at one time or another, many people do not realize that most of Vermont’s cemeteries are managed by volunteer boards.
There are over 1,900 cemeteries in Vermont, and we ask a lot of our cemetery commissioners and cemetery associations. The laws governing Vermont’s cemeteries are complex. They are meant to protect the public health and safety, and also seek to ensure that the individuals who have bought plots and families who have loved ones buried in the cemetery, have a reasonable guarantee that the cemetery will be maintained into the future.

With this publication we hope to assist the many volunteers who oversee our cemeteries by explaining the various rules and requirements that apply to burials and cemeteries in  Vermont. I want to thank Rich McCoy from the Vermont Department of Health for his  review of this booklet; and I want to thank Patrick Healy, director of the Green Mount Cemetery, and Joy Fagan, president of the Vermont Cemetery Association, for encouraging this office to focus on the needs of the people who care for our state’s cemeteries.

Deborah L. Markowitz
Vermont Secretary of State

To see the complete document, updated in 2010, click here.

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