An ongoing project to find Palm Cemetery’s historic owners
An effort to address Palm Cemetery’s inventory of long unused burial spaces is under way. As part of that effort, The City of Winter Park is trying to find historic owners who bought spaces before 1947 and have not used them. A notification project for those owners or their descendants who believe that they have an ownership interest in an unused burial space in Palm Cemetery will be ongoing.
If you think you might have an ownership interest in a historic burial space in Palm Cemetery, please contact us. Click here to see a list of names and spaces.
The official notice date for Group 1 is Monday, March 3, 2014.
The deadline date for filing a claim for spaces listed in Group 1 is Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
To facilitate the processing of your claim, click here to download the Burial Space Claim Form. Claims will be processed in the order that they are received.
- What is considered an abandoned burial right?
Florida Statute 497.286 defines “presumption of abandonment” as, “There is hereby created a presumption that burial rights in any cemetery licensed under this chapter have been abandoned when an owner of unused burial rights has failed to provide the cemetery with a current residence address for a period of 50 consecutive years and the cemetery is unable to communicate by certified letter with said owner of unused burial rights for lack of address. No such presumption of abandonment shall exist for burial rights held in common ownership which are adjoining, whether in a grave space, plot, mausoleum, columbarium, or other place of interment, if any such burial rights have been used within such common ownership.”
- What is the process for reclaiming unclaimed burial spaces?
Under 497.286, a cemetery authority can reclaim unclaimed burial spaces after formally adopting an inventory of the spaces, providing notice to the owners and their descendants, and allowing 120 days for claimants to come forward with evidence of ownership. On October 14, 2013, the Winter Park City Commission approved an ordinance that provides the clarification of the ownership interest that may be conferred and to add provision for the city to regain ownership of abandoned rights to be buried within a municipal cemetery. The Cemeteries Manager is now attempting to notify owners and their descendants that they must file a claim establishing lawful ownership in order to avoid losing their interest in the unclaimed burial spaces.
- Why is The City of Winter Park undertaking the reclamation process?
The City of Winter Park Cemeteries Division has dedicated many hours to analyzing its cemeteries’ burial records in an effort to improve record keeping and clarify the status of ownership rights. Due to the historic nature of Palm Cemetery, many burial spaces have gone unclaimed, leaving The City of Winter Park with no knowledge of the current owners or their desire to use the spaces. By undertaking the reclamation process, the City hopes to locate owners or descendants who wish to maintain their interest in any unclaimed burial spaces. If no claimants come forward, the reclamation process will allow the City to make unwanted spaces available once again to members of the community. In both cases, a final resolution of ownership claims will enable the City of Winter Park to improve its stewardship of Palm Cemetery and move forward in its commitment to responsibly care for these historic assets.
- How do I file a claim?
In order to maintain your interest in any unclaimed burial spaces, you must file a claim with The City of Winter Park’s Cemeteries Division by mail or email, using the contact information provided above. To establish the validity of your claim, you must be able to present documentation that you are the lawful owner of the space(s) or that you hold a security interest in the space(s). Please download the attached burial space claim form and return the completed form to the above address to facilitate the processing of your claim.
- When do I have to file my claim?
You have 120 days from the date that the City of Winter Park first provided notice to file your claim. The City is providing notice to owners of unclaimed burial spaces in groups, meaning that the deadline for filing a claim depends the group notice date.