New Hampshire cemeteries hold perpetual care funds, which are charitable trusts.
Charitable Trusts UnitMunicipalities
Municipal trustees – cemetery trustees, library trustees, trustees of trust funds – have very important and varied duties. The Charitable Trusts Unit strives to provide municipal trustees with the information needed to perform their duties legally and efficiently.
- Cemetery Trustees are responsible for the care and maintenance of public municipal cemeteries in your town or city, and for any private cemeteries the town has acquired. Cemetery Trustees establish the bylaws, prepare a budget every year, prepare the deeds or right to inter (although Cemetery Trustees do not sign the deeds) and maintain the cemeteries. Cemetery Trustees do not hold the principal of donated cemetery and perpetual care trust funds. This responsibility is given to the Trustees of Trust Funds. It is important for Cemetery Trustees to work closely with the Trustees of Trust Funds.
- Library Trustees are responsible for the management of the public library in their town or city. Library Trustees prepare and present the annual budget to the appropriate town officials and expend money raised and appropriated for the library, hire the library director, and adopt bylaws, rules and regulations for the operation of the library. Library trustees may also hold and invest the principal of trust funds for the benefit of the library, depending on the wishes of the donor as expressed in the will or trust instrument. Library Trustees work closely with the Trustees of Trust Funds regarding expenditure of those library trust funds in the custody of the Trustees of Trust Funds. Library Trustees must submit to the Charitable Trusts Unit a copy of their annual financial report.
- Trustees of Trust Funds are the custodian of the town's perpetual care funds, charitable trusts, and capital reserve/expendable trust funds. Trustees of Trust Funds make the decisions regarding expenditure from these funds based on the wishes of the donor in the case of privately donated funds. The Trustees distribute capital reserve funds and expendable trust funds to the appropriate government officials upon request. Trustees of Trust Funds make the decisions on how these funds are to be invested based on the investment policy adopted by the Trustees. Trustees of Trust Funds must submit annually to the Department of Revenue Administration and the Charitable Trusts Unit annual reports with respect to their trust funds.
Use of Cemetery Perpetual Care Funds
Questions arise whether a municipality may use income from cemetery perpetual care funds for general cemetery maintenance and/or improvement. Unless the municipality has received an order from a judge of probate permitting that use, cemetery perpetual care income may not be used for general cemetery maintenance or cemetery improvement. Cemetery perpetual care funds are valid charitable trusts and the income is therefore restricted for use on the lot or lots upon which the fund has been placed. See, Opinion of the Justices, 101 N.H. 531 (1957).
Forms, Publications and Training
Electronic Reporting Forms for Trustees of Trust Funds
Charitable Trusts Unit
New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301