BurialUnderstanding a common form of disposition
Understanding options and requirements involved with earth burial.
Earth burial, the practice of interring a loved one’s remains in the ground, holds a timeless appeal for many families. Its popularity tends to span religion, geography and income. Families may opt for burial for any number of reasons, from having a plce to visit in grief, to comfort in having their loved one surrounded by other family in the same cemetery, or simply to follow tradition. The rules and guidelines for burial vary from state to state and even from one cemetery to another.
The Legal Part:
Burial is legal in all 50 states.
Where people are permitted to be buried varies by state and locality.
How do I choose a casket?
There is no right or wrong casket choice for burial. Caskets may wood, metal, or particle board. Although caskets are often billed as being ‘protective’, it’s important to recognize that they are all subjected to things like the weight of the earth and heavy machinery above it, and elements like rain, freeze and flood.
Families should choose a casket that fits their budget, and which fits the aesthetic of their loved one.
Does it matter where I get my casket from?
Yes. There are many companies who purport to save consumers money by selling them caskets online or over the phone. However, the quality of such caskets is often unpredictable, and coordinating shipping and delivery can be another headache at a time when life is already overwhelming.
We typically recommend people purchase their casket through the funeral home they are working with for other aspects of the burial. If your funeral home is unable to provide something at your chosen price point, use another funeral home. The biggest benefit of purchasing through the funeral home is that any problems are the funeral home’s to worry about, not yours. If the casket arrives damaged, or is late, the funeral home typically has an established relationship with their provider and will able to find a way to solve the problem without having to delay services. These caskets also tend to have more predictable quality, as most funeral homes will not carry caskets known to have issues.
What is a vault or outer burial container?
A vault, outer burial container or grave liner, is a protective enclosure that surrounds the casket or coffin in the ground. It is designed to provide additional structural support and prevent the collapse of the gravesite.
These devices are often made of concrete or heavy duty plastic. They can be lined with plastic, fiberglass, steel, copper or bronze as well, in order to help protect against water intrusion.
It is important to note that some cemeteries require the use of a grave liner, while others consider it optional. Some cemeteries sell grave liners, some require them to be purchased from the cemetery.
What is an opening fee?
Cemeteries charge what is called an opening charge. This is the cost for digging the grave, all of the associated paperwork and permits involved, as well as closing the grave afterward. This is not an optional charge.
What is perpetual care?
Depending on the cemetery of your choice, perpetual care may be offered as part of your grave purchase, or for an additional fee. Perpetual care is typically the maintenance of the ground around the grave forever, such as mowing grass. Individual cemetery rules will determine whether things like maintenance and repair or grave stones or markers is included.
Can I bury my loved one on my own property?
Laws vary widely from state to state and even by county or town. It is important to confer with a local expert to ensure compliance if this is something you are considering.
In places where this is legal, it’s important to note that rules may prohibit the sale of land once a burial has taken place. Do not do a home burial on land you plan to some day sell, or which you may not have the resources to keep!
What are double depth burials? What are triple depth burials?
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