Humans have been burying the dead for millennia, much longer than we have records of such things. In fact, a child's burial in Kenya is the world's earliest known human grave.
People of various races, creeds, and beliefs now do it worldwide. Beyond the cemetery fees, there will be extra costs at the time of death, but having your own burial plot can relieve your loved ones of some grief.
Types of Burial Plots
A family plot is a piece of land purchased in advance from a cemetery by a family. Some people acquire family plots because their culture or religion emphasizes family ties and importance. Others may just choose to own burial places because they like the idea of being physically close even after death.
Plots for Cremated Remains
This is usually a plot of ground that has been manicured for the purpose of burying cremated remains. It's a complex plot that allows you to fit the urn into the surroundings, such as a bench or a rock, but it's far less expensive than one full burial plot.
A lawn crypt is a coffin-sized enclosure made of concrete and reinforced with steel rebar. The idea is to keep the coffin's interior dry and clean from outdoor elements. Since a crypt is double the height of a single vault, it requires deeper excavation, which can hold two caskets, making these a suitable option for couples.
The mausoleum crypt is the part of a burial site where the burial remains are kept. A crypt may store as few as one person or as many as five or ten. In rare situations, cremation urns may be used in addition to or instead of caskets for burial.
A columbarium is a building with niches for storing cremation urns. After cremating a corpse, the ashes are deposited in an urn, and cemented or "inurned" to a niche by cemetery personnel.
There are three types of niches: bronze-front, glass-front, and granite-front. Glass-front niches can feature keepsakes, inscriptions, or miniature photos relating to the dead, while granite-front niches may be personalized with details about the departed.
Private mausoleums are large areas in single-family cemeteries with multiple burial sites. They may be outdoor grounds having both above- and below-ground burial places or detached buildings sheltering a single family's remains.
Many people add personal touches like plaques, sculptures, monuments, or benches to offer a calm, secure, and dignified area for families to grieve.
Everyone who served in the military is entitled to a free burial at any of the 144 national cemeteries run by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
This privilege is also extended to some Public Health Service employees and certain civilians who served in the military. When buried at a national cemetery, dependent children and spouses are also entitled to a lot and a monument.
Plots for Green Burials
According to a 2017 National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) survey, 53.8% of respondents indicated a desire for eco-friendly burial choices such as conservation burial grounds, "hybrid" cemeteries, and natural burial sites.
Green burial is intended to have a low environmental effect and save natural resources. Also known as eco-friendly or natural burial, it emphasizes simplicity and sustainability. It avoids concrete vaults, burning, and chemical processing. Instead, the corpse is buried in a biodegradable container to fully decompose in nature.
Private persons that have pre-purchased a plot sell pre-owned burial plots. Many people pre-plan their funeral and burial, then change their plans after divorce, remarriage, or moving out of the area. Others go bankrupt and sell their land to gain money. In any case, you can usually get plots cheaper this way.
Average Plot Cost by Cemetery Type
Public Cemetery Plot
A public cemetery would be a funeral parlor or municipal cemetery that is available to the public throughout the day and sells plots to the general population.
While burial fees may be estimated, the availability and demand of burial space can vary based on location. Since space is scarce in cities, cemetery site costs tend to be higher than the national average:
- Single plot: $1,500 to over $4,000
- Companion plot: $4,000 to over $8,000
- Family plot: More than $60,000
Pro Tip: Companion plots take up two plots' space, affecting their price range. If you're on a budget, we suggest purchasing double-depth or layered plots as they tend to be more affordable.
Keep in mind that infant and child burial sites are also less costly than adult burial plots.
Public Burial Plot for Cremated Remains
The typical price for a public burial place for ashes ranges from $350 to $2,500. You must consider the cost of an urn and cremation. However, these expenses are often significantly lower than the cost of a typical funeral, which may exceed $10,000.
Buying a cremation urn online may also save you money since funeral companies often charge significantly higher prices for memorial goods. If you still want to bury your loved one in a particular spot, a burial plot for ashes might be a lovely memorial.
Private Cemetery Plot
Prices for private cemetery sites are more difficult to assess since the cost of public cemetery plots might be disproportionate to the expense of exclusivity. Those looking for a plot in a private cemetery could expect to spend anything from:
- Single plot: $2,000 to over $5,000
- Companion plot: More than $50,000
- Family plot: $100,000 upwards
Note: An entire family plot at a private cemetery may be difficult to get and is more likely to be constructed on the family's private land.
Private Burial Plot for Cremated Remains
Cremation burial in a private cemetery typically costs about $1,000; however, this varies by state. Then there's the open and close cost ($1,200), the burial vault ($250), the headstone ($1,000), and the headstone installation ($450). Furthermore, a private cemetery in New York City will probably be more expensive than one in Minnesota.
Did You Know: A body donated to science will be cremated. The ashes will be returned to the family within a few weeks at no expense once used for research purposes.
Green Burial Plot
There are already over 150 green cemeteries operating in the US. Depending on location, a burial plot might cost $1,000-$4,000. This price includes the land, burial fees, and a simple stone monument. A portion of the costs will also fund the land's conservation.
Burials at a green cemetery can save money in other ways. Green cemeteries frequently don't practice embalming, and there's no need for a vault, saving you about $2,100 in total.
Pre-Owned Burial Plot
Buying a previously owned burial site may help you save money compared to purchasing a new one, though it's difficult to anticipate prices since the seller solely determines the price.
For example, the Wall Street Journal wrote about Mr. John Dotson in 2009. In 1990, he spent around $1,500 for a double plot designated for him and his wife. Although the cemetery currently values it at $4,555, Mr. Dotson says he'd happily offload it for around $2,800.
Mr. Dotson has opted to sell the double plot he bought after suffering from illnesses, job loss, and his wife's consideration of cremation.
Additional Burial Plot Costs to Consider when Budgeting
Cemeteries often charge burial fees to pay the expenses of closing and opening graves, laying sod, and completing paperwork. A public burial may range from $350 to $1,000, and a private burial can range from $600 to $3,000.
You'll also be required to take care of headstones, which cost from $300 to over $1,000, including monthly maintenance fees.
Tips for Getting the Best Burial Plot Price
Purchase Plots in Bulk
The more plots you buy at once, the more you save on each grave. Ask your relatives whether they'd be interested in purchasing a family plot and splitting the costs equally if you don't already have one.
Since they're smaller, there is less worry about security and upkeep, making a bulk purchase desirable. Plus, burials need licenses and planning, so your cemetery land is unlikely to be occupied or taken by others.
Buy Everything Ahead of Time
From a practical standpoint, purchasing burial plots in advance makes perfect financial sense when you think about it. Prices will increase owing to both inflation and supply constraints. While thousands of cemeteries in the US are still accepting new interments, many of them are nearing capacity.
There is also a limited amount of land available for new cemeteries, especially in suburban or urban areas where most people live. A shortage of burial sites is unlikely very soon. Still, increased costs can motivate you to lock in today's lower pricing.
Opt for a Natural Burial
Increasing numbers of individuals are considering environmentally-friendly burial solutions. A green burial is cheap, but a part of that cost safeguards the green cemetery.
You save money on natural, biodegradable caskets, as well, since they're a tenth of the price of typical caskets. Alternatively, you can be wrapped in a funeral shroud.
A costly burial vault, which some cemeteries require for other kinds of burial sites, also won't be necessary.
Some stores will advise you to buy pre-owned plots since many people sell them following divorce or moving out of state. You can frequently find them online or in newspaper advertising for 50% to 75% off the original price.
A better choice is to approach a Funeral Consumers Alliance branch that may be selling plots at a steep discount. They're not profiting from the transaction, but you're effectively contributing the amount to a non-profit group that assists with destitute funerals.
How Long Do You Own the Cemetery Plot?
Often, the transaction offers you the "Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial." This means that you're purchasing the right to pick who will be buried on the land. The duration might be unspecified, although the typical range is around 25 to 100 years, so you could say that it's similar to signing a lease.
The cemetery's contract may permit them to repossess a burial spot after a specified amount of time. It's usually a good idea to study the factors can influence its length, including:
- Cemetery Type
- State Laws
Public and private cemeteries are often subject to different laws. These laws can impact individual cemetery rules. Private cemeteries, particularly those near churches, are sometimes space-restricted, allowing probate and public cemeteries to enjoy a longer lease.
Furthermore, cemeteries are often governed by the state government, making laws differ from one state to the next. The terms and length for lease renewal might also be governed by the cemetery's local legislation, so it's essential to consider which area the plot is registered in.
What Is a Prepaid Burial Plot?
Those who wish to be buried in a particular cemetery should consider pre-purchasing, especially if you have specific wishes about your burial arrangements.
Prepaying for a cemetery plot isn't for everyone. Those who advocate cremation would rather disperse the ashes or store them in an urn than bury them.
Also, those who can't pay the initial plot fees on top of their basic living expenses wouldn't even consider it. This includes young people who are likely to move or travel or are unsure about their final resting place.
How Many People Can Be Buried in One Plot?
The number of people buried or interred in a single burial plot can range from one to six, depending on the plot category, burial type, and plot size.
- Single Burial Plot: These are the country's most common burial plots and can only hold one person's remains.
- Companion Burial Plot: As the name indicates, this option can house the remains of two people. In a "Double-Depth" plot, two caskets are buried on top of each other, otherwise, two plots are next to one another.
- Family Burial Plot: This will have multiple burial plots, one for each family member, with their own tiny headstone.
What Else Should I Consider When Buying a Burial Plot?
1. Title and Rights
The plot owner's interest is a property right, and the title is a legal estate. The owner's rights are subject to state police authorities, cemetery statutes, and any limitations in the selling contract.
A cemetery company can cancel a plot-selling contract if the transaction breaches corporate standards due to a factual error. A buyer may also cancel a contract if the seller made substantial misrepresentations.
The only way to stop using land as a cemetery is to abandon it. Doing so will force the government to order the corpses' removal for public health reasons, making the land an unrecognizable cemetery.
2. Maintenance Duties
A plot's owner is responsible for its care and upkeep, either personally or via an agency. However, the cemetery's trustees may oversee plots to keep them from deteriorating.
If the cemetery organization's charter compels it to maintain the grounds, it doesn't apply to plots sold to people. Instead, they're in charge of securing the grounds, including the areas used by burial attendants for lodging or travel.
Some laws prohibit building a cemetery within a certain distance of a private residence, store, or without another business's consent. They can't forbid burial because it devalues neighboring property or causes annoyance to nearby citizens.
Even Grave Solutions Director Ken Brant said plots sell the quickest and most money in retirement areas like Southern California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida.
4. Regulations and Establishments
Some states allow cemeteries to offer land shares, which entitles the buyer to share future plot sales revenues.
Corporate charters can't ban police from evaluating whether premises may be used for burial for public safety reasons. If necessary, public authorities may order disinterment.
Can I Transfer a Burial Plot I Buy?
The leaseholder has two alternatives for transferring the land. The owner can offer the plot to a family member to become a joint owner and notify the cemetery about the change.
With no joint owner, the estate's administrator or executor will be accountable, and ownership will be transferred based on state law. If all heirs agree, the land may be assigned to a family member, assuming there wasn't a will to be carried out.