When you purchase a space in a cemetery, you have not purchased the land, you have purchased is the right to be buried in a particular place in the cemetery. If you think of the cemetery like a hotel, you might have a better understanding of what you are buying. When you purchase the plot, it’s like reserving the room in a hotel. The hotel decides what kind of rooms it wants to sell and what image it wants to portray. The hotel can offer high-end suits, simple single rooms you can drive up to or a breathtaking log cabin with that back to nature feel. Cemeteries work in a similar way. When you purchase the plot you purchase the right to be buried there and you buy into the image of that particular cemetery. Cemeteries define their image by having requirements such as: vaults, type of monuments, what may or may not be placed on the grave, green space, indigenous flora, local stone and sometimes even a set-cleaning schedule. Be aware of the cemetery’s requirements prior to your purchase. They may offer choices: in-ground full body burial, cremation niche, inurnment, entombment (mausoleum), scattered cremains, or green burial, but they get to define these services, products they sell, and what products are acceptable in the cemetery. You choose what it is that you want and if cemetery’s offerings fit, you buy.
As with funeral homes, I suggest you shop around. If done before a need arises, it can be loads of fun and you can learn so much about cemeteries and the industry in general. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you undertake this little excursion: 1) Know what it is that you want. You might be interested in a few different options, so write them down. 2) Ask to see the price list. This might be more difficult than you might think. In my cemetery, we were trained to never show clients the GPL (general price list.) The GPL may be huge, but in there are a variety of prices, services and products you might not get to see, unless you ask. My tip to those who are interested in a full burial at a conventional cemetery is to ask the price for a grave box. It fits the minimum vault requirement at conventional cemeteries and is also most likely the least expensive vault on the list. 3) Ask for a priced out plan with everything you might need in black and white. 4) Keep these in a separate folder so that you can reference them when you are finished shopping. 5) Keep notes about each cemetery, so you can remember which plan went with which cemetery. 6) Do not feel the pressure to pre-pay. Personally, the only reason I would pre-pay is if I was declared terminal. That way I would have an idea where I might be when I died. Today, we are a very transient culture. Where we are born might not be where we die. I always suggest that one makes a separate account or trust fund to save for that day when the family needs to make the final decisions. Keep your money, and make it work for you. In the end, only you know what is right for you and your family.