Code of Virginia

Chapter 3. Cemeteries.  Article 1.

Code 1919

57-24.1. Trustee for purpose of suit.

In the case of any private or family graveyard, where no trustees have been designated,
and it appears that the interest of justice may be served by the appointment of a trustee
or trustees for the purpose of suing or being sued, on the petition of any interested party,
the court of record wherein deeds are recorded of the county or city in which such cemetery
is located, may appoint a trustee or trustees for the purpose of suing or being sued.
The petitioner shall bear the expense of such proceedings, provided that in the event a
recovery is effected on behalf of such trustee or trustees, costs shall be taxed as provided by law.

 

D. Any person denied reasonable access under the provisions of this section may
bring an action in the circuit court where the property is located to enjoin the owner
of the property from denying the person reasonable ingress and egress to the cemetery
or gravesite. In granting such relief, the court may (i) set the frequency of access,
hours and duration of the access and (ii) award reasonable attorney fees and costs
to the person denied such access.

57-32. Who may hold such property.

Any cemetery company chartered under the laws of the Commonwealth, or a church, or any
trustees holding title to a cemetery, or burial ground, may take and hold any property granted,
bequeathed, devised, or given upon trust to apply its income to the improvement, repair, or
embellishment of the cemetery, or any burial lot or monument or tomb or vault or other
erections in such cemetery, according to the terms of such grant, bequest, devise, or gift.

57-36. Abandoned or previously unidentified graveyards may be condemned;
removal of bodies.

A. When a graveyard, wholly or partly within any locality, has been abandoned, is unused and
neglected by the owners, or is a previously unidentified graveyard, and such graveyard is necessary,
in whole or in part, for public purposes, authorized by the charter of such locality, or by the general
statutes providing for the government of localities, such locality may acquire title to such burying
ground by condemnation proceedings, to be instituted and conducted in the manner and mode
prescribed in the statutes providing for the exercise of the power of eminent domain by localities.
The locality may continue to maintain all or a portion of the burying ground as a graveyard.

B. The court taking jurisdiction of the case may, in its discretion, require the locality to acquire the
whole burying ground, in which event the locality may use such part thereof as may be necessary
for its purposes and sell the residue. 

57-39.1. Improvement of abandoned and neglected graveyards.

When the owners of any private graveyard, not connected with any church or church property,
abandon the graveyard and allow it to fall into a condition of neglect and disuse, so that it is unsightly
and thereby lessens the desirability and value of adjacent land, and the owners fail or refuse, when
requested by the owner of adjacent land or when requested by the local governing body of the county,
city or town wherein the private graveyard is located, to remedy such condition of neglect and put the
graveyard into suitable condition, then any owner of adjacent land or the local governing body may file
a bill in equity in the circuit court of the county or city wherein the graveyard is located, for the purpose
of requiring the graveyard to be placed in a suitable condition. The owners of the graveyard or any
person having a right therein shall be made defendants to such court proceedings.

The court shall not enter an order requiring the owners of a graveyard in which a grave or
entombment right has never been sold to improve it or place it in a suitable condition.
However, after hearing the evidence the court may allow the petitioners, at their own expense,
to improve the graveyard and place it in suitable condition and may also require bond to
ensure that the petitioners will not injure or remove any tomb, monument, gravestone,
grave marker, or vault without having first obtained court approval. Acting pursuant
to court order, the petitioners may thereafter enter upon the land and improve
he graveyard and place it in suitable condition.