FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CEMETERIES & BURIALS
A thoughtful, caring family can help the ones they love by planning ahead and providing Peace of Mind. We cordially invite you to visit and see all the options available to you and your family in a relaxed and caring atmosphere. This will enable you and your family to make a thoughtful decision when everyone is thinking clearly, rather than at a time of grief and emotional stress.
No family should have to face the loss of a loved one uninformed and unprepared. We are pleased to offer you “Straight Answers to Real Questions” Regarding these important end-of-life issues.
What are the principal types of cemeteries, and how do they differ?
Cemeteries usually are divided into two broad categories: Traditional Cemeteries or Memorial Parks.
A Traditional Cemetery, the type used for many generations, has upright monuments, usually made of stone. Many traditional cemeteries also have private mausoleums for above ground entombment. Because many have functioned in their communities for over 100 years, traditional cemeteries typically contain a great deal of history, such as architecture, statuary and other art, as well as the personages interred there. They often feature lush landscaping and impressive greenery.
Memorial Parks and Gardens are a newer type of cemetery introduced about 75 years ago. They are cemeteries without tombstones: parks and gardens where bronze memorials are placed level with the ground to blend with the beauty of the landscape. They often feature expansive lawns with a variety of trees, flowering beds & gardens, as well as fountains, sculpture or memorial architecture.
Some cemeteries have both traditional upright monument sections and garden sections. Both types of cemeteries may offer above-ground entombment in community mausoleums. Both traditional cemeteries and memorial parks may be operated on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. They may be owned by an individual or by a corporation. Some are owned mutually, and many are the property of towns, counties and religious or fraternal groups. Both may have chapels, crematories, community mausoleums, and columbaria.
What are my choices in-ground burial?
Most common are single graves and lots composed of two or more graves or interment rights. Not all types of graves are available at all traditional cemeteries and memorial parks. Please check with the cemetery of your choice for the availability of specific graves.
How do I choose the right type of grave?
Because it is an important question, many things must be considered. What type of memorial do you prefer? An upright monument? A marker set flat on the ground? How many burials do you expect to take place? Are you arranging for yourself or your family? Answers to these types of questions will assist you to make the right purchase as graves vary by size, location and price.
How much do graves cost and why aren’t they priced the same all over?
Grave prices can vary. Grave prices are normally set based on their location. Within the cemetery, grave prices can vary by the section in which the grave is located. For example, graves in a “feature” section – where there is a central feature such as a sculpture or community mausoleum for the benefit of lot owners in that section – may be more expensive than in non-feature sections.
The number of interments permitted in a grave may also affect the price, as may the size of the grave. Graves, which allow for a monument, are more expensive due to the space required for the monument.
What is opening and closing?
Opening and closing can include 50 or more separate services provided by the cemetery. There are administrative as well as grave preparation tasks that need to be completed. Administration and permanent record keeping tasks that include determining ownership, obtaining the proper permission of the owner(s) and the completion of other documentation which may be required, entering the interment particulars in the interment register, maintaining all legal files. To prepare the grave, the staff determines its exact location, lays out the boundaries of the grave, excavates the grave, installs the lowering device and places the artificial grass and chairs for family members for the service. After the burial has taken place, the staff then fills the grave and makes sure that it is level by tamping and regrading before replacing the sod or seeding the grave site. The staff will also level and re-sod or seed the grave if the earth settles.
Can we dig our own grave to avoid the charge for opening and closing?
The actual opening of the grave and closing of the grave is just one component of the opening and closing fee. Because of safety issues which arise around the use of machinery on cemetery property and the protection of property of adjacent interment rights holders, the actual opening and closing of the grave is conducted by cemetery personnel.
What is “Double Depth”?
Some cemeteries either allow for the burial of two caskets in a grave or have specific sections where this type of grave is available. Double depth means that one casket is placed in the grave at an approximate depth of seven feet. When a second interment is required, the second casket is placed on top of the first casket at standard depth.
What are burial vaults?
These are the outside containers into which the casket is placed. Burial vaults are designed to protect the casket and are made of concrete.
Must I purchase a burial vault?
Yes, our Cemeteries require a concrete burial vault.
What options are available besides ground burial?
Besides ground burial, many cemeteries offer interment or entombment in mausoleums. In addition, some cemeteries provide choices for those who have selected cremation. These often include placement of cremated remains in a niche or a columbarium or interment in a beautiful glass and bronze urn space within a mausoleum.
What is entombment?
Entombment is the interment of human remains in a tomb or mausoleum. It involves placing a casket or cremation urn in a crypt or niche (individual compartment within a mausoleum or columbarium), which is then sealed.
What is a mausoleum?
Historically, the word “mausoleum” comes from the large temple-like structure, which was erected by Queen Artemisia in the ancient city of Harlicarnassua as the final resting place for her late husband, King Mausolus. Mausolus ruled over Caria in Asia Minor and died in 353 B.C. His mausoleum is now regarded as the fifth of the Seven Wonders of the World. The pyramids of Egypt and the Taj Mahal in India are other examples of ancient mausoleums.
What is a community mausoleum?
A community mausoleum is a beautiful building designed to provide above-ground entombment for your loved one. Sharing the costs of the mausoleum with others makes it more affordable than a private mausoleum and comparable in
price to ground grave options. Crypts are designed to hold casketed remains. Following a casket entombment, the crypt is sealed, and a granite or marble front is attached and memorialized. Smaller spaces called “niches” will accommodate urns containing cremated remains. Following an urn entombment, a niche front of granite, marble, bronze, wood or glass is attached.
What are the advantages of a mausoleum burial?
Mausoleum crypts are both clean and dry. They offer a viable alternative for those who simply have an aversion to being interred in the ground. In most cases, the cost of mausoleum entombment is comparable to the costs of internment in a lot due to the additional costs for the purchase of the burial vault, monument, and foundation.
Are there different types of crypts?
Yes, single crypts are designed for one entombment only, There are different kinds of double crypts: true companion crypts permit two entombments lengthwise in a crypt, heart-to-heart and together forever crypts permit two entombments side-by-side. Most mausoleums are built five, six and seven crypts high. The price of the crypt will depend on its location and the type of crypt. For example, upper-level crypts are usually more affordable than those located at heart or eye level.
What happens to a mausoleum if there is an earthquake?
Modern Mausoleums are steel-reinforced concrete structures, covered with granite or marble. They are built to meet all state and local building specifications, including those regarding earthquakes. They are also required to meet the State Division of Construction Affairs approval standards of schools and hospitals.
How does a mausoleum protect the body?
Because the casket is placed in a clean, dry, above-ground crypt, the remains are protected from water and elements of the earth.
How can a mausoleum help eliminate expenses?
When you select a mausoleum, you eliminate the need for vaults, monuments or memorials and their foundations, which are required to be purchased with ordinary earth burial.
What is a columbarium?
A columbarium, often located within or outside a mausoleum or chapel, is constructed of numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns sealed behind glass so a beautiful urn can be viewed, or the urn rests behind a solid sealed panel behind a granite or marble front.
If I were going to be cremated, why would I want my remains to be placed in a niche,
columbarium or interred at the cemetery? Why shouldn’t I just have them scattered in the sea or in some other place of my choosing?
As long as it is permitted by local regulations, your cremated remains can be scattered in a place that is meaningful to you. This can, however, present difficulties for your survivors.
Some people may find it hard to simply pour the mortal remains of a loved one out onto the ground or into the sea. If you wish to be scattered somewhere, it is therefore important to discuss your wishes ahead of time with the person or persons who will actually have to do the scattering.
Another difficulty with scattering can occur when the remains are disposed of in an anonymous unmarked or public place. Access to the area may be restricted for some reason in the future, undeveloped land may be developed or any of a host of other conditions may arise that could make it difficult for your survivors to visit the site to remember you. Even if your cremated remains are scattered in your backyard, what happens if your survivors relocate sometime in the future? Once scattered, cremated remains cannot easily be recollected.
Having your remains placed or interred on dedicated cemetery grounds ensures that future generations will have a place to go to remember. If remains are scattered somewhere outside the cemetery, many cemeteries will allow you to place a memorial of some type on the cemetery grounds, so survivors have a place to visit that will always be maintained and preserved.
Why is having a place to visit so important?
It provides a focal point for memorializing your loved ones. To remember, and to be remembered, are natural human needs. Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture. The Washington Monument, the Tomb of the Unknowns and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D. C., are examples of memorialization, which demonstrate that, throughout our history, we have always honored our dead.
Psychologists say that remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to permanent memorialization, serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping to bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin. Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one’s mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.
How soon after or long after a death must an individual be buried?
This may vary by state so check with your local funeral director. Considerations include the need to secure all permits and authorizations, notifications of family and friends, preparation of cemetery site and religious considerations. Some states have limitations on the maximum length of time allowed to pass prior to final disposition. Consult your local funeral provider for any applicable regulations.
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 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 cemetery services, you benefit by purchasing at today’s prices, free from inflationary pressures in the future. Your cemetery provider can help you preplan.
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 are in fact purchasing the right to designate who may be interred in the space, rather than purchasing the grave itself, which remains the property and responsibility of the cemetery. You also have a right to place a memorial where permitted.
What is maintenance and preservation?
The maintenance of a cemetery is all the activities of a cemetery, which further the care and upkeep of a cemetery, including cutting lawns, and preservation and repair of drains, water lines, roads, buildings, fences, and other structures. Maintenance and preservation care for the entire cemetery to the extent of the income of the maintenance and preservation fund; it does not include providing specific care to individual graves.
What guarantee do I have that the maintenance and preservation fund will take care of the cemetery?
While not guaranteed, maintenance and preservation funds are very conservatively managed. Income from the fund can only be spent on care and maintenance of the cemetery; the capital is not touched. In most states, laws for consumer protection govern maintenance and preservation funds.
What happens when a cemetery runs out of land?
When a cemetery runs out of land, it will continue to operate and serve the community. Since more and more individuals and families are purchasing their graves in advance, graves, which have been sold, will be opened when a death occurs, markers will be placed and other services will be provided. Most states have laws that require funds to be set aside from each sale for the long-term care and maintenance of the cemetery. The amount to be set aside varies from state to state. Many states require 10 or 15 percent of the lot purchase price to be placed into a maintenance and preservation fund.
Will a cemetery ever be used for something else? Can the bodies be moved and buildings built?
Communities afford respect to cemeteries and to the memorialization, which cemeteries provide. In order to protect interment rights holders, strict rules govern the use of cemetery lands. Graves are normally considered to be sold in perpetuity, which restricts possible redevelopment.
In a hundred years, will this cemetery still be here?
We think of cemetery lands as being in perpetuity. There are cemeteries throughout the world that have been in existence well over a hundred years.
Can I resell my grave?
It really depends on the rules and regulations of the cemetery and the laws of the state or province in which the cemetery is located. While some cemeteries will repurchase graves, others have laws restricting the resale to a third party.
Is cemetery property tax deductible?
No, the purchase of a grave is not tax-deductible, although the charitable donation of unwanted grave spaces may be deductible as an “in-kind” charitable contribution. Check with a knowledgeable tax advisor for details.
What is a disinterment? What is the process and why does it happen?
Disinterment is the removal of the vault and casket containing human remains from a grave. Disinterment requires the grave to be opened. The vault and casket containing the human remains is removed. Depending on the length of time the casket has been buried, a new casket may be required. The grave is then closed. Laws governing disinterment vary by state or province. For example, a disinterment may be ordered by certain public officials without the consent of the grave owner or the next of kin, as part of a police investigation. Individuals or families may also request disinterment if, for example, they would like to have the human remains relocated to another grave in the cemetery, to a mausoleum or possibly shipped to a country of birth.
What does the government give a veteran in regard to a marker?
The United States government provides headstones and markers for the graves of veterans and eligible dependents anywhere in the world, which are not already marked. Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, and upright marble types are available to mark the grave of a veteran or dependent in the style consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Bronze niche markers are also available to mark columbaria in national cemeteries used for the interment of cremated remains. For more information, see the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site for the National Cemetery System at 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.
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