6 Cemetery Fees and Charges No One Talks About

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Alecia Milano
Posted by Alecia Milano on November 14, 2023

A cemetery plot, or grave, is the physical space where a loved one is laid to rest—whether they were cremated or chose to have a traditional casket and burial. However, that piece of property is only the start of many hidden cemetery fees and charges you’ll encounter with final arrangements. 

Surprisingly, cemetery costs can vary significantly, even within the same city or county. That's why we strongly recommend working with a trusted memorial provider to navigate these decisions. 

Before embarking on the journey to choose a final resting place, it's essential to be well-informed about the following cemetery fees and charges to steer clear of any unexpected financial surprises. 

1. Types of Cemetery Plots

Different burial plots have different associated fees, 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 loved ones (such as couples or siblings) than two neighboring plots. Each loved one is 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 a road or lake, for example. 

types of cemetery plots

2. Burial Vaults Are Not Included

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 on at least five sides with concrete—but is not included in the initial purchase of a casket or urn. The 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 a couple thousand dollars, 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.Cemetery Up-Keep

One often-overlooked aspect of cemetery fees and charges is what's known as "endowment care" or "perpetual care." This fee is an integral part of cemetery operations and contributes significantly to the overall cost of burial arrangements. But what exactly does it entail? 

Endowment care or perpetual care funds are earmarked to ensure the long-term maintenance and preservation of the cemetery grounds. This essential fund serves a dual purpose of preserving the present and securing the future. 

  • A portion of the funds are allocated for immediate upkeep, ensuring that the cemetery grounds remain maintained year-round (e.g. mowing lawns, pruning trees, repairing pathways and general landscaping).  
  • The remaining part of these funds will support the perpetual care of the cemetery as the years go by. It's a safeguard to guarantee that the cemetery remains a well-preserved final resting place for generations to come.  

Tip: When choosing a cemetery, be to sure to avoid ones that do not properly maintain their grounds and headstones. Here are some warning signs 

5. Headstone Creation Upcharges

Some families believe you must purchase a headstone or memorial through a cemetery—that’s not actually the case. Most cemeteries outsource this service, typically to non-local providers. To save money in headstone upcharges and receive other advantages, like personal customer service and access to quality materials, we recommend families work directly with a reputable memorial provider. 

A local memorial provider, like Milano Monuments, knows the area’s cemetery fees and charges as well as rules and regulations. Having a large inventory of headstones in-house, and a team with the ability to add personalization to memorials also helps alleviate costs you’d otherwise pay through a cemetery.

Upright memorial collage

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 Cost

Regardless of where you purchase a headstone, there are usually cemetery fees and charges associated with installing the memorial when it’s complete. These can include: 

  • Foundation preparation. The foundation of a headstone provides stability for the it to remain level and secure. The cemetery may charge a fee for excavating the plot, pouring a concrete foundation and ensuring it is solidly anchored to the ground.


  • Positioning the memorial. Placing the headstone in its final resting position is a delicate and precise process. Cemeteries will ensure that the headstone is perfectly aligned and level before placing it in the ground. Cemetery fees and charges associated with this step cover the required expertise and labor.

Machine installing headstone

  • Maintenance and care. Some headstone installation fees may also encompass future maintenance and care. This can include periodic checks to ensure the headstone remains in good condition and addressing any issues that may arise over time.

Cleaning headstone

It's important to note that these cemetery fees and charges can vary from one location to another, so it's advisable to inquire about the specific costs associated with headstone installation when planning your burial arrangements. Your chosen memorial provider may also be able to offer the same or better services at a lower cost.   

More Details On Cemetery Fees and Charges 

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. Download our Northeast Ohio Cemetery Memorial Guide to learn more about local cemetery regulations and fees before choosing a location that makes the most sense for you and your family. 


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