Purchasing a Grave: 5 Things to Consider First

No one likes to think about it, but purchasing a plot for graves is still an important part of the estate planning process. Unfortunately, it is not something people do every day and there is little information out there that tells consumers how they can protect themselves against gravesite scams or to ensure they get fair treatment. Furthermore, gravesite purchases are extremely costly and most individuals are unaware of what they are getting or what they are signing up for when they purchase them.

If you are purchasing a gravesite for yourself or if you and your spouse are purchasing together, there are still a few things you will need to consider first.

Land Ownership

When you purchase a gravesite, it is not the same as purchasing land outright. You do not usually own the land your gravesite is on; instead, someone else has ownership, but you are purchasing an easement or license that allows you to bury a body into that plot. It is best that you clarify if you are purchasing the easement or the land when buying.

How Many Burials in the Same Plot?

Some cemeteries will only allow one individual to be buried in a plot, while others will allow a maximum of two individuals to be buried in the same plot – as long as they are buried on top of one another. However, double-deep plots often come with an extra fee. For couples, sharing a plot may be ideal, but it is a big consideration to make. After all, if you are to split later on, you still share a grave plot, but may not wish to be buried next to one another.

Maintenance Fees

There is typically a one-time maintenance fee you must pay when purchasing a plot at a cemetery. This fee is often referred to as the endowment fee in the contract and the prices will vary depending on the cemetery you select. You will want to ask about the endowment fee to see if that is in addition to the plot purchase or included in the purchase price. Most of the times it is not included and you will have to pay it after you have selected and started the purchase process.

Grave Marker Restrictions

Even if you purchase a gravesite, you could be restricted as to what types of grave markers you can actually place. Some will allow standing headstones, while others will only allow the use of flat plaques. You will want to clarify this when purchasing, especially if you are also preordering a gravestone or thinking about the type of gravestone you wish to place at the site. Ask about any applicable regulations, including size restrictions and material types.

Reselling Your Site

Most importantly, you want to ask about the transferability of the gravesite. If you want to sell the plot, you typically should be able to sell it to anyone you would like, but there are some cemeteries that request to review the purchaser and they reserve the right to refuse to resell.

Enlist the Assistance of an Estate Planning Attorney

If you are picking out a gravesite for purchase as part of your estate plan, enlist the assistance of an attorney. An attorney can help assess the purchase agreement and also make stipulations in your estate plan in regards to the newly purchased gravesite. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today regarding your estate plan by calling 516-605-0625 or contacting us online for a consultation.

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