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Why You Should Purchase Cemetery Property Ahead of Time
By Jon Kobeck

In this short article I will discuss the benefits of purchasing cemetery property ahead of time before there is a need. I will touch on some of the benefits here as well as point out some of the pitfalls to watch out for.

Price is one of the main reasons for pre-planning. Most cemeteries offer a deep discount for pre-planning and will charge a premium for an at-need purchase. Also, most cemeteries will allow you to finance your memorial and pay it off over time, interest free. But when there is a death, the space would have to be paid for in full before it can be used.

In my opinion, the single most important benefit is that fact that your loved ones will not be burdened by this decision. Along with the obvious financial burdens come the psychological burdens as well. As a former top producing memorial sales counselor who has worked at two major New York City cemeteries myself, I can tell you that I have seen this countless times before. It is only natural for our survivors (children, spouse etc) to want to give us the very best, even more-so in death where guilt plays a part. I have seen families go into debt in order to buy the most expensive, or the most elaborate for their departed family member. This is all the reason why it makes sense to purchase cemetery property ahead of time, when clear heads will prevail. This is the only way to insure that our children do not over-spend.

While on this topic I would also like to point out some of the pitfalls of not pre-planning. When you visit the cemetery to purchase property, whether pre-planning or for an immediate death or as we say in the industry at-need, you will have to deal with a Family Counselor or sometimes called a Memorial Counselor. Let me be very clear about something, this person is most certainly NOT a counselor of any kind. Speaking from my own experiences I can say that these people receive no special training in social work, grief counseling or anything of the like. These people are salespeople and nothing more. In the cemeteries I was involved in we worked on straight commission. Most of my co-workers and myself included earned six figure incomes. I am not implying that cemetery salespeople are unethical. In fact, most of the people I worked with were always professional and had the utmost ethics and sensitivity in dealing with their clients. But there are always exceptions, especially in a commission driven environment. My point is this; you are at a significant advantage in dealing with a Memorial Counselor now when you don't need the property. You have the upper-hand. You can walk away. But after a death occurs then there is no walking away(pardon my pun). True even when there is a death a person can still "shop" different cemeteries, but this is something that is highly unlikely. At a time of death, generally a cemetery plot will need to be purchased and paid in full today. The cemetery now has the upper hand when this happens.

If you are pre-purchasing above ground space in a community mausoleum try to buy before the building is actually built. Buying this way will insure a deep discount. also I would suggest paying for your opening fees, inscription fees and any other fees associated with burial or entombment at the time you purchase the property. By doing this you will often times lock in the price and avoid future increases.

If possible, you should try to make your purchase as close to the end of the month as possible, even on the last day of the month. Like most salespeople, a huge percentage of our income was based on monthly bonuses. We had a certain number we had to hit each month in order to receive our bonus. Half of my income was from bonuses. And not only does the salesperson receive his or her bonus, but the sales manager may also receive a bonus as well. Factor in to this the cemetery itself has to file quarterly reports with its board of directors and trustees. Pre-planning allows you the luxury to visit the cemetery at the end of the month. This does not guarantee that you will get a better price, but in my opinion if there is any possibility of a discount this is the time you will have your best chance.

I hope some of these tips will help you in your decision. I know death is something no one likes to think about, but it happens to all of use. The decision to purchase cemetery property is something that we can either make now for ourselves, or our loved ones will be forced to make latter for us.


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