Did you know not all cemeteries are the same? It comes as a surprise to many, but each cemetery has its own unique characteristics that make it special. With different regulations, fees and options for final resting places it can be confusing to navigate on your own. Let’s take a closer look at four different types of cemeteries, but before we do it’s important to understand what “perpetual care” means.
“Perpetual care” or “endowment care” is when a portion of your payment for a burial plot goes into a fund. This fund is left untouched until all spaces in the cemetery are filled. Over time quite a bit of money is accumulated until, eventually the fund is utilized to maintain the beauty and presentation of the cemetery for years to come. Perpetual care does not include the maintenance of markers/headstones. You will see that some of the following cemeteries have perpetual care, while others do not.
1) Municipal Cemeteries
As the name implies, these cemeteries are owned and operated by local, state or federal municipalities. They vary greatly in size from smaller, rural cemeteries to bigger, metro style cemeteries. Being run by the state means burial plots are usually less expensive, however many do not include perpetual care. They may or may not require graveliners.
2) Memorial Parks and gardens
Most memorial parks are for profit, meaning the cost of a burial plot will usually be higher. What comes with this, however, is an ambiance often resembling that of a park rather than a cemetery. Many memorial parks are quite cheery and aesthetically appealing. For this reason, it’s not uncommon to see joggers, dog walkers or children walking through these cemeteries. Because memorial parks value appearance, perpetual care is included in the price of a burial plot, meaning the park will continue to look as lovely as it does today for many years to come. It should also be noted that memorial parks usually require some sort of graveliner to keep the ground above the grave from sinking in.
3) Military Cemeteries
Military cemeteries operate under the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. This means rather it is a state or national cemetery, all must operate by national standards. Many are surprised to learn that military death benefits do not cover funeral arrangements, however these benefits do extend to cemetery arrangements. Hence, there are various reasons to consider being laid to rest at a military cemetery if you are a veteran.
The marker/headstone is provided to the veteran as well. Bear in mind, however, that because this is a service provided by the government, markers are relatively simple and follow uniform regulations set by national standards.
Although there are no costs for interment of the veteran, there are usually small fees for the spouse and/or children. These may include interment fees, installations fees, and marker/headstone costs. Perpetual care is always included at no cost to the veteran or the family.
Depending on the cemetery, some type of prearranging may be done. If this is the case, there will be a preregistration form, which can be filled out either at the time of need, or better yet, beforehand. This will determine the eligibility of the veteran and family members. Keep in mind documentation (DD-214 or NGB-22) will be requested.
As each veteran is unique, you’ll find there are numerous gray areas when discussing eligibility. We encourage you to visit the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs page for more information regarding eligibility requirements.
4) Church Cemeteries
Given away in the name, these cemeteries are owned and maintained by a specific church. To be interred here, one must either be a member of the church or of that particular faith. Occasionally, church cemeteries will include fraternal organizations as well (ie Freemasons, Knights of Columbus). These cemeteries vary greatly in size and grandeur. Some are smaller and more simple, while others are much larger and more elaborate. In the same way, price of burial plots, regulations on graveliners, and perpetual care vary as well. It’s always best to call and ask about these items when considering a church cemetery.
With so many different types of cemeteries, it can be overwhelming. Our advice to you is to always call and ask questions when considering a final resting place for you or a loved one. Each cemetery is distinct. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like assistance in finding a cemetery.