The purchase of a cemetery plot involves many different considerations besides cost. The location of the cemetery, whether it meets the requirements of your family’s religion, and the particular rules and requirements of the cemetery are important, as well.
Cost. Cemetery plots can be expensive, especially in metropolitan areas. Most, but not all, require you to purchase a grave liner in addition to the plot itself, and that will add several hundred dollars. There are substantial charges — usually hundreds of dollars — to open the grave for interment and then fill it back in. Perpetual care on a cemetery plot sometimes is included in the purchase price, but not always, so it’s important to clarify that point before buying the site or service. If it’s not included, look for a separate endowment care fee for maintenance and grounds keeping. For suggestions on cutting cemetery costs, click HERE.
If you plan to bury your loved one’s cremated remains in a mausoleum or columbarium, you will need to purchase a crypt and pay opening and closing fees as well as charges for endowment care and other services. Note that the FTC’s Funeral Rule does not cover cemeteries and mausoleums unless they sell both funeral goods and funeral services.
Specific Considerations. Before making a purchase, ensure that you understand the cemetery’s specific rules and regulations. These vary by location, so ask all of the questions that may be important to you:
- Are artificial flowers allowed?
- What types of containers are approved for fresh-cut flowers?
- Are potted plants allowed?
- Are decorations (flags, pinwheels, solar lights, shells, etc.) allowed? How about holiday decorations?
- Are flowers removed on a regular basis and, if so, what is the schedule?
- Is landscaping (rocks, planted flowers, special grass, shepherd’s hook for hanging basket, etc.) allowed? If so, what are the restrictions?
- May pets visit the gravesite?
- What are the cemetery visiting hours?
- Are there any restrictions on burial vaults purchased elsewhere?
- How long will the temporary marker remain in place?
- What types of monuments or memorials are allowed?
- Do monument plans have to be approved in advance? Are there restrictions on their placement?
- How soon after the burial is the ground seeded or sodded?
- Whose responsibility is it to repair any damage to the headstone from natural causes? From vandalism?
- Is embalming required for burial in a mausoleum?
- May two people’s cremains share one niche?
- If buying cremains, is an urn required?
- How flat are the available plots? How far from the road? Are they near shade? Are the subject to flooding in heavy rains?
U.S. veterans are entitled to a free burial in a national cemetery and a grave marker. There are no charges for opening or closing the grave, for a vault or liner, or for setting the marker in a national cemetery. Many states have established veterans cemeteries; eligibility requirements and other details vary. For more information about veteran benefits, click HERE.