Burial Plot or Cemeteries

When you are purchasing a burial plot, consider the location of the cemetery and whether it meets the requirements of your family's religion. Other considerations include what, if any, restrictions the cemetery places on burial vaults purchased elsewhere, the type of monuments or memorials it allows, and whether flowers or other remembrances may be placed on graves.

Cost is another consideration. Burial plots can be expensive, especially in metropolitan areas. Most, but not all, cemeteries require you to purchase a grave liner, which can cost several hundred dollars up to a thousand dollars. Note that there are charges - ranging between $1000 to $2500 - to open and close a grave for interment. Perpetual care on a cemetery plot sometimes is included in the purchase price, but it's important to clarify that point before you buy the site or service. If it's not included, look for a separate endowment care fee for maintenance and groundskeeping.

If you plan to bury your remains in a mausoleum or columbarium, you can expect to purchase a crypt and pay opening and closing fees, as well as charges for endowment care and other services. The FTC's Funeral Rule does not cover cemeteries and mausoleums unless they sell both funeral goods and funeral services, so be cautious in making your purchase to ensure that you receive all pertinent price and other information, and that you're being dealt with fairly.

Veterans Cemeteries

All veterans* are entitled to a free burial in a national cemetery and a grave marker. This eligibility also extends to some civilians who have provided military-related service and some Public Health Service personnel. Spouses and dependent children also are entitled to a lot and marker when buried in a national cemetery. There are no charges for opening or closing the grave, for a vault or liner, or for setting the marker in a national cemetery. The family generally is responsible for other expenses, including transportation to the cemetery.

In addition, many states have established state veterans cemeteries. Eligibility requirements and other details vary. Contact your state for more information.

Beware of commercial cemeteries that advertise so-called "veterans' specials." These cemeteries sometimes offer a free plot for the veteran, but charge exorbitant rates for an adjoining plot for the spouse, as well as high fees for opening and closing each grave. Evaluate the bottom-line cost to be sure the special is as special as you may be led to believe.

For more information, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs' website. To reach the regional Veterans office in your area, call 1-800-827-1000.

Federal Trade Commission: Funerals: A Consumer Guide

*Effective 09/09/1980, to qualify for free burial in a national cemetary, veterans should have served active duty no less than two years. Additionally, veterans cannot be buried in a national cemetery if they committed a capital crime. If murder suicide, the veterans' spouse, children could be buried but not the veteran. If they died before being convicted, they cannot be buried in a national cemetery.

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