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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.

Additional Advice
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.


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