Funeral Planning - Choosing a Cemetery
Or Burial Site
By Richard McNeal
Being thoroughly prepared alleviates stress when a loved
one passes away. It's imperative to feel comfortable and
knowledgeable regarding any funeral planning you may do.
Given recent revelations of shocking cometary
mismanagement in Chicago's Burr Oak Cemetery, practical
advice on selecting a cemetery may be more necessary
than you think.
Begin your search for an appropriate plot with by
reading local cemetery listings. Keep in mind that
certain cemeteries, like Veteran memorials and those
with religious affiliations, may impose restrictions on
who they allow to be buried. Once you find a cemetery
that interests you, schedule a tour to inspect the
grounds and available plots.
While you're visiting, evaluate how well the grounds are
maintained. A good trick is to check the outermost
boundaries or somewhat removed portions of the cemetery
-- if these place are well maintained, it's likely the
rest will be, too. Additionally, make a point to meet
any staff you see. Often the demeanor of employees will
reflect the manner in which they care for the grounds.
How much information do they offer freely, and how much
do they know about all the processes involved?
Ask about the difference in price for various burial
sites. Plots with a scenic view or pleasant surroundings
will have a higher price. Choosing a less visually
appealing burial site may save you money. Also, if
you're aware of certain family members desiring to be
buried together, it is often cheaper in the long run to
purchase multiple plots at once.
To avoid "hidden fees," make sure to ask for an outline
of expenses associated with the burial sites. For
instance, the total cost of a plot may include an
initial down-payment, opening and closing fees, and
ongoing maintenance fees.
Inquire about payment options, and, as a precaution, ask
what happens if you change your mind. Sometimes you may
get a refund or be able to sell your plot to someone
else, but again, there may be fees associated with these
options. Some cemeteries or funeral homes do offer
additional services that may prove convenient in the
future. If you want to stay flexible, consider choosing
an organization that offers a number of different
options including burial sites, mausoleums, or
cremation. Additional services like plot maintenance and
care, flowers, and coordinating a graveside funeral can
be helpful in eliminating details and responsibilities
after a death.
In general, before you sign a contract or receipt,
always read every word and ask questions if you don't
understand anything. Failing to fully understand the
stipulations of a burial agreement upfront can be both
costly and emotionally unnerving later on.
Finally, ask around. Friends or family who have already
used a particular cemetery or funeral home will be good
sources of knowledgeable advice. Also, you can see what
others are saying about certain burial sites by
inquiring at a local business bureau or online.
Funeral planning or pre-planning doesn't have to be a
worrisome endeavor. Of course, no one is particularly
comfortable with the process, but properly planning for
internment will bring peace of mind in the long run.
~Richard McNeal, 2009
Get more funeral pre-planning information in Valley of
Life's cemetery location listings and resource center.
The site also offers free memorial web sites for
families to remember a loved one.