Funeral Service Shopping: Planning Tips Part 6 of 7

Part 6 – Interment Options

We have been talking about funeral arrangements in prior segments and now we will look at Interment options.  It may be a cemetery, a mausoleum crypt, keeping cremains in the possession of the family or disposal of cremains in an alternative manner.  Your preferences are just as important, if not more so than the funeral. 

Cemetery Interment

The burial of a body in a cemetery has been a long-time practice through many generations and in many cultures.  There may be a family plot where several family members can be interred or it may be necessary to purchase a plot.  When you buy a cemetery plot, the cost is not the only consideration. The location of the cemetery and whether it meets the requirements of your family’s religion are important, as well.  There may be 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.

Let’s not overlook the cost. Cemetery plots can be expensive. Keep in mind that there may be the requirement of a grave liner or burial vault, the cost of opening and closing the grave and perhaps a cost for perpetual care. 

If the deceased is a veteran, a free burial in a national cemetery and a grave marker may be available. Eligibility also extends to some civilians who have provided military-related service and some Public Health Service personnel. Spouses and dependent children are also entitled to a plot 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. For more information, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There are also established veterans cemeteries in many states. Eligibility requirements and other details vary. Contact your state for more information.  If you respond to an ad for “veterans’ specials” by a commercial cemetery, buyer beware. 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.

Interment of Cremains

If your loved one has been cremated, the cremains can be interred in a cemetery or may be buried in a mausoleum or columbarium.  If this option is selected, 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.

Some people have desires for their cremains to be scattered in a favorite location or perhaps to be divided among family members.  This is a matter of personal preference.  However, if the cremains are to be scattered, be aware that there are regulations in this regard and you don’t want to cause problems.

Our final segment will be Part 7, which will discuss the advance planning of your funeral.



About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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