Cemeteries are in all types of ownership:
Each type of ownership involves different levels of protection and management, ranging from active use as a legal cemetery, to cases where a landowner does not even know that a cemetery is on his or her land. The most important point to remember is that all human remains are protected under state law, no matter who owns the land. The county property appraiser at the county courthouse can help you find out who owns a specific lot or land parcel. For some counties, this information is available online.
Most cemeteries in public ownership are protected and maintained, although many are no longer actively receiving new interments. If there is a problem with a cemetery on public land, the primary point of contact will be the public land manager or responsible public official. In some cases privately owned and maintained cemeteries exist within the boundaries of publicly owned land.
Most active cemeteries are under the management of cemetery corporations, or religious and not-for-profit organizations. Active cemeteries of this type are regulated by the Florida Division of Banking and Finance. Sometimes, cemeteries that were once under the management of a business or a church become abandoned when the original organization is no longer viable. Commercial cemeteries sometimes go out of business with no provision for future care, and churches can move as a congregation but leave a cemetery behind. There are many opportunities for disturbance and destruction of graves when no party is responsible for care.
Finally, land in private ownership may contain graves, sometimes in the form of a homestead or family cemetery that is known and maintained, but more often as an abandoned or neglected cemetery that is unknown. In some cases, headstones may have been removed illegally, but human graves still exist below the ground. Many disputes arise over access by descendants to graves on private land.
Here are some principles regarding ownership: