Defunct burial societies can present issues for cemeteries. In many cases, they acquired multiple plots for their members, but disbanded before all of those graves were filled. The result is plots that have been unoccupied, and abandoned, for decades, with no method for a cemetery to reclaim them. That should change based on the law signed by Governor Cuomo on November 29, 2017.
Under the law, cemeteries may seek the approval from the cemetery board to reclaim plots owned by non-sectarian burial societies. This can be done under two circumstances. First, if the cemetery has received a burial request but was unable to contact a representative of the burial society (NFPCL 1512(h)), or second, if regular mailings to the burial society have gone unanswered, as have certified mailings to the burial society's officers. The law then requires a cemetery to make several certified mailings and public postings to try and contact burial society officers.
If a cemetery still cannot locate the burial society's officers, it may reclaim the lots, excepting lots that are reserved for specific individuals. Those lots may then be resold, with 15% of the proceeds going to a perpetual care fund in the name of the defunct society (the remaining proceeds go to the permanent maintenance and current maintenance funds). A cemetery must also keep 10% of the reclaimed graves in reserve for 20 years in case an individual entitled to burial is located. Finally, the law requires any resold graves include a restriction that monuments be consistent with those in the surrounding area.
The full text of the new law can be found here.