My role as educator means that I get asked many questions on a daily basis.  Here are some questions that are asked often.

What are my choices in ground burial?
There are single graves and burial lots of 2 or more graves.  Choices will vary by cemetery so you must be sure you understand your options.

How do I choose the right type of grave?
This is a very important question, so you must determine your desires.
Do you want an upright headstone or flat marker?
Do you want space for other family members or just yourself?
What cost are you willing to incur?
Do you want to be near the road, or more towards the middle of a section?
Do you want to be near a tree?
Do you want to be at the top of a hill?
Answers to these questions will help you to make the right choice for eternity.

Are there other options besides ground burial?
There are many alternatives to ground burial.  These include entombment in private or community mausoleums, and cremations options that include placement in a niche or a scattering garden.  Check with your cemetery for help in making your selection.

What is opening and closing and why is it so expensive?
Opening and closing fees included more than just the opening and closing of the grave.  There are administration fees for setting up and maintaining permanent record keeping, determining grave layout, installation and removal of the lowering device, placement of the artificial grass, leveling and tamping the grave, as well as planting grass seed or sodding the grave are also included among many others.

How about if we dig the grave ourselves to avoid the opening and closing charges?
As stated above, the charges include more that digging the grave.  Also there is the issue of safety to consider as well as avoiding damage to the surround graves in the area.

What is double depth?
Double depth is the placement of caskets one on top of the other in one burial space.  This process is not allowed in all cemeteries.  If this is your desire, be sure to inquire before you purchase.

How much do graves cost, and why aren’t they priced the same all over?
Grave prices are determined by a variety of factors.  These can be the value of the land, amount of spaces left to sell in a section, the section could be a “featured” section, as well as the size of the grave.  Most cemeteries offer graves that can fit any budget.

When I buy a grave do I receive a deed just like when I purchase other types of real estate?
When you purchase a grave you buy the right to bury someone in the space, rather than the grave itself.  You also purchase the right for memorialization.

What is endowment care?
A fund that provides the cemetery with ongoing maintenance such as mowing grass, regarding graves, tree maintenance, maintenance of irrigation systems, roads, drainage, etc.  The cemetery takes a portion of each grave purchase that is designated by law and places it in this fund.

What guarantee do I have that Endowment Care will take care of the cemetery?
They are not guaranteed, but they are regulated by state law for the protection of the consumer.  The income from the fund can only be spent on maintaining the cemetery.

Can I resell my grave?
You will need to consult your cemetery for the answer as policies vary by state and location.

Is cemetery property tax deductible?
No. Sometimes donation of property can be.  You will have to check with your accountant.  Cemetery property is considered an asset by Medicaid.

What are burial vaults and grave liners?
The vault is the container in which the casket is placed for protection.  They are made of many types of materials:  concrete, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, stainless steel, plastic or fiberglass.

Must I purchase a burial vault?
State law does not usually require the purchase of one.  However in order to preserve their beauty, most cemeteries do require a vault.

I am going to be cremated.  Why would I want to be placed in a niche or interred at a cemetery rather than being scattered at sea?
As long as local laws permit it, your remains can be scattered a place of your choosing.  But in doing so you might make it difficult for your survivors.  It can prove difficult for some people to have to pour the remains of a loved one.  Also, the area where your were scattered may one day become inaccessible for your loved ones to come and visit.  Placement in a cemetery rather than some place anonymously makes it much easier for those to come and remember you in a well maintained and preserved cemetery.

Is having a place to visit really that important?
Yes.  A permanent resting place is a fulfillment of a natural human desire to remember and to be remembered.  Psychologists say that our funeral and burial ceremonies serve to help survivors to get closure and start to allow the healing process to begin.

What is a columbarium?
A columbarium is a group of niches which hold urns.  Though they are sometimes located inside a mausoleum chapel, they can also be located as a building outside or in groups around a feature such as a fountain.

What is entombment?
Entombment is defined as burial of remains in a tomb or mausoleum.  Cremains placed in a niche or a mausoleum is also sometimes referred to as entombment.

What is a mausoleum?
A mausoleum is a building that contains crypts in which remains are placed.  After the remains are placed in the crypt it is sealed and a granite shutter is placed over the crypt.  Private mausoleums are designed for a family, whereas community mausoleums contain many crypts for a number of different families.  Because more crypts share the cost, community mausoleums are more affordable than private mausoleums.

What are the advantages of being buried in a mausoleum?
The largest advantage is that crypts are both clean and dry.  Also the burial is easier to find because of a more centralized location.  Another advantage is the conservation of land space.  More burials can occur in less space in a community mausoleum.

Isn’t mausoleum burial only for rich people?
Actually the cost of mausoleum burial is very comparable to ground interment with an upright monument.

What are the different types of crypts?
Single crypts are for one entombment.  There are three different types of double crypts: tandem crypts are end to end, companion are side by side, and Westminster crypts are one above the other.  Crypts are priced based on the level.  Crypts at eye-level are more expensive than those at higher level.

What happens to a mausoleum if there is an earthquake?
Modern mausoleums are steel-reinforced concrete structures, covered with granite or marble. They typically are built to meet all local building specifications, including those regarding earthquakes and tornadoes.

How does a mausoleum protect the body?
The casket is placed in a clean dry above ground crypt so the remains are protected from the elements of the earth and water.

Can you actually see the deceased in a mausoleum?
No.  When you visit a mausoleum, you see the person’s name on the front of a granite or marble front.  The deceased is behind a solid sealed panel behind the front.

How many people will a crypt hold?
There are several sizes.  Most hold one or two.  There are some that hold four.  Check with your cemetery for the options.

What is a tandem?
A mausoleum crypt that holds two caskets end to end.

How can a mausoleum help eliminate expenses?
A crypt does not require a burial vault or a monument that is almost always required for ground burial.  Generally the opening and closing for a crypt are less expensive than ground burial.

What are lawn crypts?
They are underground tombs constructed of concrete or steel and have special drainage around them.

What is the difference between lawn crypts and double depth burial spaces?
Lawn crypts are pre-set. Double depth burial lots are set at the time of death.

How soon after or long after a death must an individual be buried?
This will vary by state.  There could be state limitations on the length of time allowable before final disposition.  Check with your funeral director.

Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?
It is not always required, no.  Public viewing, transportation by air or rail, and cemetery regulations all have a bearing on this.  Be sure to consult with proper officials.

What types of cemeteries are there, and how do they differ?
There are many different cemeteries but they usually fall under one of two different categories:  Traditional which have upright headstones and more of a park atmosphere.  The other is a memorial park which only allows grass level markers.  Both types of cemeteries will usually offer mausoleums for entombment and columbaria for cremation inurnment.

What happens when a cemetery runs out of land?
Most states require a cemetery to set aside anywhere from 10 to 15% of a lot purchase to be set aside into a perpetual care fund.  This will insure that even after there are no more lots to sell, the cemetery will still be cared for.  Also any lots that have been sold in advance will still be opened when they are needed.

Will a cemetery ever be used for something else? Can the bodies be moved and buildings built?
Graves are normally considered by the community to be sold in perpetuity and are governed by strict rules in the community against possible re-development.

In a hundred years will this cemetery still be here?
There are many cemeteries in the world that have been around for over 100 years, and will be around forever.

What is a disinterment? What is the process, and why does it happen?
Disinterment is the removal of a casket from a grave.  There are many reasons which include the request of the family or a police investigation.

May I make the necessary arrangements in advance?
Yes, usually all arrangements may be made in advance. When you plan ahead, you will be able to consider the many options available. You will have the opportunity to make an informed decision about your funeral and cemetery arrangements and the form of memorial you prefer. You will be able to make choices that are meaningful to both you and your family, and you will gain peace of mind knowing your family and friends will be relieved of the emotional and financial burden often associated with making arrangements when a death occurs. By prearranging your funeral and cemetery services, you benefit by purchasing at today’s prices, free from inflationary pressures in the future. Be sure to check whether the contract of your local provider guarantees prices. Your cemetery or funeral provider can help you preplan.

What happens if I buy cemetery property here in advance and later move to another state or location?
Some cemeteries belong to an exchange program which allows dollar for dollar transfers.  Be sure to ask your cemetery if they participate in such a program before you buy.

What does the government give a veteran in regards to a marker?
For more information, see the Department of Veterans Affairs web site for the National Cemetery System at http://www.cem.va.gov.

If I am a veteran and plan to be buried in a national cemetery, is my spouse eligible to be buried next to me?
Yes, a space for your spouse or any other minor children can be authorized at the time of your death.





One thought on “FAQ

  1. Bill,
    How concerned should I be about purchasing a crypt in a mausoleum when I hear about caskets exploding due to gases? What percentage of these occur? Is this a frequent occurrence with Forest Lawn property? Should caskets be left unsealed? Should casket lids be propped open 1-2″ for moisture to escape? Are Forest Lawn mausoleums ventilated and do they allow for drainage? Please try to address each question. Thank you.

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