A bill introduced by state Rep. Julie Alexander that returns money to its rightful owner as a result of abandoned cemetery lot deposits recently was advanced in a vote by the Michigan House with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill allows county treasurers to transfer money to a local municipality’s general fund if cemetery lots and or depositors cannot be identified or located.
Because documentation for cemetery lots from many years ago often lists only a last name and first initial, depositors with common names can be difficult to locate. In other instances, individuals are buried elsewhere or cremated while the original deposited money sits in an account unclaimed.
As a result of the proposed legislation, money invested years ago may be returned to its proper place: the investor or heirs, the municipality in which the cemetery plot was located, or the county.
“When this legislation was originally put in place over 100 years ago, lawmakers had good intentions to serve the community,” said Alexander, of Hanover. “But it is clear now that as most counties no longer operate public cemeteries yet have thousands of dollars worth of unattributed funds, the money needs to be appropriately dispersed. Every effort possible will be made to track down the lineage of the cemetery lot owner and return these funds. This bill also makes sense to allow counties the ability to clean up their books when money has remained unclaimed for so long.”
In Jackson County, a treasurer survey indicated there is currently $3,029.84 in abandoned lot funds. The amount is subject to change if depositors are eventually located.
House Bill 4849 moves to the Senate for further consideration.
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Julie Alexander (left), of Hanover, listens to testimony provided by Kalamazoo County Treasurer Mary Balkema on House Bill 4948 during a House Local Government Committee hearing on Sept. 20.