Know Your Rights: Laws Governing Illinois Cemeteries
Laws Protecting Illinois Cemeteries
The following is a partial list of state and local cemetery and
burial laws. These laws apply to both registered and unregistered
and/or unmarked cemeteries and/or graves. This does not
include any federal cemetery or burial laws (most of which will,
in general, apply only to federally owned land). Complete
versions of these laws are available at www.ilga.gov/legislation.
ILCS 3440 Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act
This Act, passed in 1989, protects all unregistered graves, graves
artifacts, and grave markers (including prehistoric mounds) that
are over 100 years old and are not located in a cemetery
that is registered with the State Comptroller’s Office under
the Cemetery Care Act. It offers protection from all disturbances
including, but not limited to, excavation (includes cultivation),
vandalism, removal, defacement, or desecration in any way.
Violations of the law are either misdemeanor or felony offenses
and are subject to criminal penalties. This law is administered
by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and it is their preference
that graves or cemeteries be undisturbed and preserved in place.
IAC 4170 Rules for the Protection, Treatment and Inventory
of Unmarked Human Burial Sites and Unregistered Graves
Defines terms from the Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act and
clarifies protocols for notification of discovery, preservation,
qualification of skeletal analysts, permitting, excavation, documentation,
reporting, and disposition. The administrative codes also detail
prohibited acts and related penalties.
ILCS 30/3.01, 30/3.03, 30/3.04,
30/11, 30/12 Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act
Provides for the protection of lands, waters, plants, animals,
and cultural resources into natural areas for scientific research,
aesthetic enjoyment, and natural plant and animal habitats for
present and future generations. Cemeteries located in nature
preserves or natural areas are regulated by the Illinois Nature
Preserve Commission, Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
ILCS 100 Cemetery Care Act
This Act mandates the financial and maintenance responsibilities
of cemetery owners and operators. The Illinois Office of
the State Comptroller administers this act for cemeteries registered
with the office’s Cemetery Care and Burial Trust Division.
ILCS 835 Cemetery Protection Act
This law makes it illegal to vandalize, obliterate, or desecrate
a burial ground (cemetery), park, memorial, grave marker, vegetation,
or surround (fences, curbs, etc.) dedicated to the deceased.
Under this law, specific criminal penalties are provided for and
increase in severity relative to degree of the offense.
ILCS 411 Cemetery Oversight Act
Passed into law in 2010 this Act regulates the administration
and management of registered, licensed cemeteries. This law is
administered by the Illinois of Financial and Professional Regulation
and makes Illinois cemeteries more accountable to their customers.
If you have questions regarding funeral purchases or complaints
relating to cemeteries, funeral directors, or pre-need purchases
and crematories, please contact the Illinois Department of Financial
and Professional Regulation at www.idfpr.com.
County and municipality laws
Each of these laws authorizes funds to be appropriated for the restoration of abandoned cemeteries within county or township boundaries.
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