Wisconsin State Law Library

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WSLL @ Your Service October 2022

Cemetery and Burial Laws - Amy Crowder

This time of year it's common to see tombstones presiding over lawns and residential streets. While most tombstones you'll see are fake (and probably full of bad puns), burial law is something we can help people to research. People sometimes ask our reference staff questions related to death and human remains. As librarians, we try to direct them to sources that will help them get started with their research. When searching for relevant statutes, the Wisconsin Statute Index entry on Death and Dead Persons is a good place to start.

Image of a house with broken windows

For instance, we are often asked whether cremated remains can be scattered. Wisconsin Statute 440.80 governs the disposition of cremated remains and Subsection (2) states,

"A person may dispose of cremated remains only in one of the following manners:

  • Placing the remains in a grave, niche, or crypt.
  • Disposing of the remains in any other lawful manner, but only if the remains are reduced to a particle size of one-eighth inch or less."

The book Death in Wisconsin: a Legal Practitioner's Guide to Postmortem Administration says that people should take care in disposing cremated remains in public locations so that "disposal does not breach the peace or otherwise affect other public users of those places." It recommends that people check for any local requirements or locally required permits and suggests consulting a funeral director or the local county coroner or medical examiner's office.

Additional laws govern cremated remains in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Statute Chapter 440, Subchapter VII contains requirements for cremation, and Wisconsin Statute 979.10 and Administrative Code DHS 135.06(3) concern cremation permits. Wisconsin Statute 157.113 regards permission to place cremated human remains in a cemetery.

In general, Wisconsin Statute Chapter 157 addresses the disposition of human remains. This includes cemeteries. People frequently ask questions about cemetery maintenance and care, the role of cemetery boards, the sale and conveyance of plots, and abandoned cemeteries and we first direct people to this statute chapter. Internment in family burial grounds was more frequent in Wisconsin's past; we are often still asked about burial on private land. The legal publisher website NOLO.com indicates there are no state laws in Wisconsin prohibiting home burial. However, people should check with the town or village regarding possible local zoning laws or health codes that could apply. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also offers suggested contacts for family burial such as Wisconsin Burial Sites Preservation Board. Wisconsin Statute 157.70 lists the duties of the board and the cataloging of burial sites.

The State Law Library's Legal Topics page on funerals, burials, and cemeteries is a good way to locate other relevant statutes, administrative code regulations, and sources of information. We also recommend searching for local laws on cemeteries and zoning. Our Wisconsin Ordinances & Codes page links to county and municipal ordinances we have located on the internet. If our library has not located an online code, check with the municipal or county clerk's office. After your research, if you have additional questions about the legality of your plans, you may wish to seek the legal advice of an attorney.

Image source: LC-DIG-highsm-40330 (Library of Congress)

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Abandoned Property - Heidi Yelk

A ghoulishly sinister haunted house standing empty is a well-worn Halloween trope. The library fields many questions about abandoned property, year-round, not just at Halloween. How abandoned property is treated under the law depends on the circumstances and type of property. Cornell Law's overview of "abandoned property" highlights the variation in this area of the law. This article provides an overview of four areas of abandoned property in Wisconsin.

Image of house with broken windows

Unclaimed Property

In Wisconsin, a financial asset may become unclaimed property if the bank cannot locate the owner. Periods of inactivity from one to five years can trigger the status of unclaimed or abandoned. Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 171 and Chapter 177 address abandonment and custody of unclaimed property. But many times, people are more interested in the Wisconsin Department of Revenue's (DOR) searchable database listing all of this unclaimed property. This system allows rightful owners to process a claim for the asset. The DOR also provides helpful ways to avoid your accounts from becoming abandoned. See "How can I avoid having my property turned over to your office?"

Personal Property Left Behind

Landlords often struggle with "abandoned" tenant property after a move out or eviction. Special rules can apply depending on the lease and the property involved. The Tenant Resource Center has a helpful page covering vehicles, fixtures, medical devices and more.

Self Storage Units

Property left in self-storage units is treated under Wisconsin Statute 704.90. As noted in this guide by the Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, self storage facilities are not inspected or licensed by the State of Wisconsin. However, the process and procedure of handling abandoned property is set forth in the statute. Specific notices, advertisement of sale, redemption and penalties are covered.

Real Property

In 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court addressed the issue of "zombie properties" - properties left in legal limbo when owners abandon but lenders do not foreclose. Bank of New York Mellon v. Carson found the law required lenders to take action to sell abandoned properties, sooner rather than later. Subsequently, the legislature amended Wisconsin Statute 846.102 to specify a new sale timeline, in the case of abandoned properties. For more information, see 2015 Wisconsin Act 376 and the related legislative materials. For more information on foreclosure and workouts surrounding abandoned properties, see our library sources: The Law of Distressed Real Estate, available on Westlaw at the library and Vacant and Problem Properties: A Guide to Legal Strategies and Remedies.

Image source: HABS WASH,17-AUB,1A--1, Library of Congress

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New Books - Kari Zelinka

Cover of Vaccine book

New Edition! AHLA Vaccine, Vaccination, and Immunization Law, 2nd ed., by Brian Dean Abramson, 2022.
Call Number: Available in Lexis Digital

AHLA Vaccine, Vaccination, and Immunization Law is authored by Brian Dean Abramson, adjunct professor of vaccine law. The updated 2nd edition offers state by state coverage of vaccination requirements for health care workers and patients. If you want to understand more about privacy considerations regarding individuals' vaccination status, limitations on employers' ability to require vaccination status or many more topics, peruse this book today. The title is available in Lexis Digital, which you can access with your library card. From our website, look under the Search drop down menu, choose eBooks and then Lexis Digital. Log in with your library barcode and search for your desired title. You can also check out the book or place a hold by logging in through the link in this article.

Chapters include:

  • Vaccine patents
  • Vaccination funding, payment, and access issues
  • Vaccine mandates and requirements
  • Vaccination exemptions
  • Employer mandates and other private vaccination efforts
  • Vaccine injury claims
  • International and comparative vaccine laws
  • Anti-vaccine activism and the law

Cover of opening statements book

New Edition! Opening Statements: winning in the beginning by winning the beginning, by Dominic J. Gianna, 2022
Call Number: KF 8923 .O74 2022

A jury is often made up of multiple generations and there is no one size fits all approach.  Opening Statements: winning in the beginning by winning the beginning teaches attorneys how to be persuasive and mindful of a multigenerational jury from the very beginning. In the 2022 edition, a new chapter has been added, focusing on why current studies show that 85-95% of jurors do not change their verdict decisions between the end of the opening statement and the conclusion of the trial. The authors break the trial into two parts including the framing phase and the scrutinizing phases. Learn how to take the facts and frame a compelling story immediately in the opening statement.
Topics include:

  • Confirmational bias and selective attention
  • Emotional IQ
  • First impressions
  • An opening statement outline
  • How long? Today's attention spans
  • Rebuttals
  • Bench trial openings
  • Objections
  • Confessions of a juror
  • New concepts for persuading new generations of jurors
  • Stages of juror decision-making: scrutinize the evidence

New Titles RSS Feed See our latest New Titles list for a list of new books and other resources.

For assistance in accessing these or other resources, please contact our Reference Desk.

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Tech Tip - Carol Hassler

One of our featured books for this month, AHLA Vaccine, Vaccination, and Immunization Law, can be checked out as an eBook from anywhere. All you need is a library card! Follow the steps below to check out a book, or place a hold.

Log in to Lexis Digital with your Wisconsin State Law Library card number. Be sure to enter the full number under your barcode, and remove any spaces between the numbers. Search or browse for your book. (If you followed a link from our library catalog, then you're already at the book you want!)

Choose the READ button to borrow the book. Books will automatically return on the due date.

Read button next to title

Books you've checked out can be found in the "My books" section of Lexis Digital - look for this in the side menu. Use My Books to get to your checkouts, return books early, and check on your holds.

My books section circled on menu

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Library News - Carol Hassler

Legislative research classes this fall

It's time for fall learning! Registration is open for our November webinar. Registrations will be approved daily by the moderator. Once your registration is approved, you will get an email confirmation with connection information. Please reach out to Abigail Case with questions.

Advanced Wisconsin Legislative History
Wednesday, November 16, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Location: Live webinar - Register for Advanced Wisconsin Legislative History

Participants will learn about online Wisconsin legislative resources and learn some helpful tips and tricks along the way. This class goes beyond the normal sources for legislative history, focusing on the special steps and sources involved in researching budget bills, legislative council bills, and judicial branch enactments.

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October Snapshot

Sculpture of Jack's story time

Jack's Story Time
Photo by Amy Crowder

The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library recently celebrated the reopening of its downtown Eau Claire location after a year of renovations. During the construction project, a temporary library site operated in a commercial building on the city's south side.

We are accepting snapshots! Do you have a photo highlighting libraries, attractions or points of historical interest? Send your photo to the editor at carol.hassler@wicourts.gov to be included in a future issue.

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