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Measure allowing the re-selling of cemetery plots clears Senate

A measure allowing the re-selling of public or private cemeterial burial plots was approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 335 would provide a mechanism to re-sell burial sites at public or private cemeteries if the plot has been unused for 75 years and a reasonable search to find the owner has been conducted. Authored by Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington, the measure was resurrected and re-filed for consideration after it didn’t make it through the legislative process during the 2020 session due to the COVID-19 pandemic

“As odd as it may seem, this is a major issue across rural Oklahoma,” Pederson said. “Often times, families will buy multiple burial plots, but then their children move away to other towns or states and instead choose to be buried in a different area. These plots then go unused, taking up space in our often-small cemeteries. By providing this mechanism to resell these plots, cemeteries can ensure available burial spaces can be sold to members of the community wishing to be buried there.”

Under the bill, a “reasonable search” would include sending a certified letter to the last known address associated with the site on record and publishing a description of the site in a newspaper. If an address is not on file, a letter would not be required. If the owner does not claim the burial space within one year of publication in the paper, the site would be considered abandoned. If a person comes forward to claim ownership of the site after it’s been deemed abandoned, the previous owner would be compensated with a plot equal in value to the prior site.

The measure now moves across the rotunda where Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee, is the House principal author.