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6 Hidden Cemetery Costs You Need to Know About

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Alecia Milano
Posted by Alecia Milano on May 26, 2020

Securing a final resting place within a cemetery is an important part of making final arrangements.

A cemetery plot, or grave, is the physical space where someone’s remains are buried, whether they were cremated or have a traditional burial. However, that piece of property is only one aspect of being laid to rest in a cemetery. There are multiple factors to consider—and other costs to plan for, too.

Before you meet with a cemetery to select a final resting place, be aware of these hidden costs to avoid any surprises during the process.


You Might Not Know About These Cemetery Charges

Before you buy a cemetery plot, you should know about the fees and costs. That way, you’ll be able to purchase or preplan without fear of financial surprises.

You may be surprised to find out how much costs differ from one cemetery to another—even in the same city or county. That’s one reason we highly encourage working through a third party, such as a memorial provider, to help you navigate these decisions. We’ve worked with dozens of cemeteries over the years and can help you make the best choice for your family, factoring in costs, upkeep and other considerations.


1. The Cemetery Plot

Different plots have different associated costs, so it’s important to ask for a full price listing from the cemetery you’re considering.

For instance, a double-depth burial plot can be a more cost-effective way to bury two people (such as couples or siblings) than two neighboring plots. The remains are placed on top of one another underground, as opposed to side by side—saving space within the cemetery.

Plots in a certain area of a cemetery may also be sold at a premium, due to the proximity to the road or a lake, for example.


2. The Grave Liner or Burial Vault

Most cemeteries require the purchase of a grave liner or burial vault because it protects the cemetery and the remains. A grave liner or burial vault covers the remains—either a casket or urn—on at least five sides with concrete. This added stability prevents ground collapse from foot traffic and heavy machinery from above, and can limit deterioration of the casket or urn.


3. Opening and Closing the Grave

Many cemeteries charge a fee for excavating a grave before burial and filling it afterwards. This can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to around $1,000, depending on a few factors:

  • The time of year.
  • Whether the cemetery is public or private.
  • Whether you live within the cemetery’s county limits.

When this process is combined with the legal paperwork that accompanies a burial, it’s often referred to as an interment fee.


4. Maintenance Fees

Usually called “endowment care” or “perpetual care,” this fee goes into a fund that the cemetery uses to maintain the grounds and perform general upkeep on the cemetery now and in the future.


5. Headstone Upcharges

Some people believe you have to purchase a headstone or memorial through a cemetery. That’s not actually the case. Most cemeteries outsource this service, making it preferable to work directly with a reputable memorial vendor to save you money in headstone upcharges and receive other advantages.

A memorial provider will know your cemetery’s rules, regulations and fees, and know how to navigate them to design something special for you. They will also have a wider selection of memorial designs and personalization options than the cemetery. A memorial specialist guides each individual and family through the creative options to guarantee you understand what is available.

Our Headstone Design Guide helps you learn about what’s possible for a memorial—as well as what might not be allowed—so that you can design and purchase a memorial that is as unique and memorable as the person it’s made to honor. Click here to see the guide.


6. Headstone Installation

Regardless of where you purchase a headstone, most cemeteries charge a fee to install the headstone when it’s complete. This includes laying the foundation, ensuring it is level and looks exactly as you’d envisioned it.


What Else Would You Like to Know About Cemeteries?

We created the Northeast Ohio Cemetery Memorial Guide to help you make the best cemetery decision based on your needs and priorities.

Learn about the memorial regulations and the associated fees at more than 40 cemeteries across the Cleveland area and beyond. Access the guide to see how they compare.


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Topics: Cremation

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