How to Make Cemetery Arrangements

Cemetery arrangements

A cemetery is the place where the dead are buried or interred — a "final resting place" for the deceased. A typical cemetery offers various types of grave spaces for earth burial and mausoleum crypts for entombment. Similar options are available for burial or entombment of cremated remains.

Most cemeteries also provide services to open and close the grave or crypt and to install grave markers. Some cemeteries charge recurring fees for the perpetual maintenance of the grounds, but most incorporate the perpetual care fee into the price of space at the time was sold.

Since you are likely to visit the cemetery periodically to remember your loved one, location is an important consideration in selecting a cemetery. In many cases, your family will have purchased cemetery spaces in advance. Many people purchase cemetery property in advance to relieve their survivors of this responsibility.

At the time of death, you will need to go to the cemetery (except for municipal or township cemeteries) and confirm the burial arrangements. Even if you already own property (actually, what you purchased is an interment right, or the right to be buried in a particular space and not the physical land), don’t be surprised if the cemetery staff wants to take you to see the exact grave space to be opened for the burial. This is a practice that was started in the 1990’s to prevent wrongful burial, and also asking the family to come out to the cemetery was to allow the family to meet and talk with the cemetery staff where previously only funeral home staff was involved.

Don’t Already Own Cemetery Property?

If you do not own burial rights anywhere, you will need to purchase this before the funeral service plans can be finalized. When going to the cemetery, make sure the space you select is suitable for your needs. If you wish to be near a tree or other landmark feature, ask to see the available spaces in those areas.

Most cemetery grave spaces are organized in 3 levels: Section, Lot, Space. For example, a space may be identified as Garden of Peace (Section), Lot 24, Space 4. Maintenance crews are able to find exact spaces using maps and lot pins, which are metal or concrete plugs installed in the ground with the lot number on them.

Prices will vary depending on the location of the space and the number of spaces available to sell. In other words, a space in an older section of the cemetery with only a few spaces available will be much more expensive than a newer section with hundred of spaces available. If price is a factor in your selection, then ask for a price list by Section and then choose a space from the ones that fit your budget. In the case of ground burial, you should also ask if the area is prone to flooding, as it can be distressing to visit a grave under water after extensive rainfall. Additionally, beware of spaces along the edge of a roadway – many cemeteries do not have curbs along their roads to prevent visitors from accidentally driving over a portion of a grave close to the roadway.

Finally, consider if you will need any additional spaces for other family members at the time you make your purchase. It is best to arrange to purchase any additional spaces at the same time to ensure they do not get purchased by someone else.

If you have not yet decided on a cemetery, you can use our Find A Funeral Home / Cemetery to locate one.

Go to Print Funeral Planning Guide to print out a guide that contains all the information needed to make cemetery arrangements.

See related topics:

What You Need to Do When Someone Dies
First Calls
Deceased Transportation
Funeral Services
Funeral and Memorial Products
Estate, Financial and Administrative Matters