Cemetery Plots: What to Do if You Have Unwanted Burial Property

Consider the following scenarios:

  • A man with a wife and three children, living in San Diego, CA learns that his recently deceased mother’s will bequeaths to him two cemetery plots in his hometown of Beaver, PA.  The plots, which are located just a few cemetery plots away from his grandparents, were purchased by his parents years ago.  This man has no intention of ever using these burial properties, and is at a loss for what to do with them.
  • A woman living in Jacksonville, FL, who was widowed at the age of 50, has recently been fortunate enough to find love again at the age of 62.  Though she looks forward to spending her remaining years with her second husband, she has not lost or forgotten her love for her first husband either.  Her second husband proposes the idea of pre-planning their funerals.  She realizes that she will have a problem, because her first husband is buried in West Palm Beach, FL, several hours from Jacksonville, and she has an already purchased burial plot located beside him.  Her second husband’s family all live in Jacksonville, and so naturally he would like to be buried there.  She decides that she will have her remains cremated then spread over both gravesites.  But the problem remains over what to do with the already purchased burial property in West Palm Beach?

In both of these cases, unwanted cemetery plots are at risk for going forever unused.  Some people don’t realize how valuable these unwanted cemetery plots truly are.  Though there is a monetary value associated with the burial property, there is also a value for some other family who will someday want to be able to be buried in those cemeteries.  If they don’t know that there are cemetery plots available, they won’t be able to make use of them.

If you have unwanted cemetery plots, it’s important that you don’t let your lack of knowledge of how to sell burial property keep you from making those cemetery plots available for someone who truly wants them.

What stops most people from selling their unused, unwanted burial property is lack of knowing how to find the right buyer for the property.  Selling burial property is not like selling your home.  You can’t put a For Sale sign on the cemetery plot and hope that a buyer comes along.

Some people try to sell unwanted cemetery plots through classified ads in the newspaper.  This is a terrible mistake, because frankly there are few people combing the classifieds every day, just hoping to be able to find burial property like you have listed.  The cost of running the ad will quickly eat up whatever profit you might have been able to make on the sale of the cemetery plot.  Why?  Because it can take years to have the right buyer need your exact burial property.

So how do you sell burial property?  The best and easiest way to sell your unwanted burial property is to make sure everyone knows that it is available.  The fastest and easiest way to have your burial property found is to register it for sale online.  When someone loses a loved one and starts their funeral planning process, one of the first things that person is most likely to do is to do an Internet search for “Funeral Planning” or “Final Arrangements.”

When the search results pop-up, they are going to want to find a resource that has all of the necessary information they need to properly plan the funeral, everything from the actual funeral planning process to how to find cemetery plots for sale.  What you need to do in order to sell your cemetery property, is to make sure you are registered with these all-inclusive types of companies.

Selling your burial property should not be an expensive thing to do.  Avoid companies or cemetery brokerages that charge commission fees, renewal fees, or advertising fees.  These companies are taking advantage of the fact that they know it will most likely take years to sell your burial property.  Instead choose a company that charges you one flat registration fee, one time.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of funeral planning and  how to sell your unwanted cemetery plots.

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Cemetery Plots: The Reality of Selling Cemetery Plots

There have been recent reports of people choosing to list their unwanted cemetery plots and burial property in places like Craigslist, Ebay, and the classifieds.  If you own unused cemetery plots, beware of these less than practical solutions to trying to sell your unwanted burial property.

One of the main reasons most people resort to these kinds of selling tactics for burial property is because they are hoping to be able to sell their burial property very quickly – as in by next weekend.  However, this is a completely impractical expectation.  Selling cemetery plots is not like selling anything else, and resorting to tactics that make sense when selling a used car or loveseat will only leave you frustrated and disappointed.

The reality is, cemetery plots are only needed when someone dies.  As morbid as that may sound, it’s the truth.  Not only must someone die, but their loved ones must also have plans to bury them in the cemetery where you own unwanted cemetery plots.  It’s really a very chance occurrence, and one you don’t want to rely on an expensive classified ad or limited time only Ebay auction to assist you with.

News reporter Steve Gelbach of Fox 35 news in Orlando recently reported on an Ocala, FL man who chose to list his burial property for sale on Craigslist.  The man was accepting money, or a trade of a small car or truck because, according to the seller, “Selling burial property is hard, but selling a car or truck is easy.”

Therein lies the truth of the matter when it comes to selling burial property.  People who list cemetery plots and burial property for sale have an expectation that it should sell immediately, or at least within a few months.  The fact of the matter is, however, that cemetery plots take sometimes years to find that right mix of recently deceased and burial location.

Some analysts think that the inability to sell burial property quickly is the result of more people preferring to be cremated than ever before.  To some extent, this may be true, but only in certain areas of the country.

For example, according to the Cremation Association of North America, the states with the highest cremation rates in 2006 were: Nevada (68.41%), Washington (67.57%), Hawaii (65.6%), and Oregon (65.25%).  The states with the lowest rates of cremation were: Mississippi (9.56%), Alabama (11.05%), Kentucky (12.32%), and Tennessee (15.99%).  The cremation rates for most states fell somewhere between 20% and 30%.

Given these figures, one can assume that selling cemetery plots in the states that have the highest rates of cremation may indeed be more of a challenge than the states where traditional burial is in higher demand.  However, to blame cremation rats entirely for the inability to sell burial property quickly using methods best reserved for homes and cars is shortsighted.

When needing to find burial property quickly, most people rely on funeral directors.  A great way to sell your burial property more quickly is to make sure that the funeral homes in your area have your burial property information.  This is easily – and very inexpensively – done by putting all of your contact information along with specific information regarding the cemetery and cemetery plot location on an index card and taking it to the funeral homes personally.  This way the funeral directors have the information at hand.

Another affordable solution – and one that can be used in addition to handing out your information to local funeral homes – is to register the property with an online cemetery registry, preferably one that is found on the first pages of all the top search engines, like Google and Yahoo.  To find these registries, simply go to a search engine search page and type in “cemetery plots for sale.”  The top companies are going to be your best bet.

If you do go the route of choosing an online cemetery registry, beware of any company that charges you anything more than a one-time registration fee.  There is no need to pay commissions,  or renewal fees for selling or registering your burial property.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of  how to sell cemetery plots.

Selling Space in Cemeteries: How to make sure your property is ready immediately

If you have an unwanted cemetery plot or cemetery plots for sale, you need to know how to make sure your property is ready for “Immediate Need.”  “Immediate Need” refers to the fact that almost 80% of all burial property becomes needed within a 24-72 hour window.  Though your cemetery property may have been registered and available for purchase for a considerable amount of time, the fact is that it won’t sell until it is needed. So what must you do to make sure that when the time comes you are prepared to sell your burial property to someone in Immediate Need?

The most important step to making sure your cemetery plot is ready for Immediate Need is to contact the cemetery where the property is located and ask the following questions:

  • Am I able to give permission to bury someone within the next 24 to 72 hours in the lot to which I own the rights of burial?
  • How do you accomplish the burial within 24 to 72 hours?
  • What paperwork must be completed and/or how do I provide the permission so the burial can take place?
  • Does the family who will be using the burial space, or the funeral director they are using need to contact you and how?  Can they be billed for the open and closing of the grave along with any additional fees?

Once you have had these questions answered, it’s important to make sure that you keep all of the information, along with your property deed, and the names and phones numbers of the people you spoke with at the cemetery together in a clearly marked folder.  Be sure to make anyone else who is responsible for your financial matters aware that you have registered your property available as an Immediate Need Ready Site.

The other information you will have to have available includes:

  • The price you are asking for your burial property
  • The phone and email contact information for both you and your financial partners (spouse) or advisors (attorneys, accountant, etc.)
  • Details of the cemetery plots for sale, including location in the cemetery (you may need to ask for information from the cemetery itself if you were bequeathed the property and have never seen it)

In regards to your contact information, remember that the sale of most cemetery plots occurs very quickly once the right buyer comes along.  However, since your burial property can be available for quite some time before it is ever needed by someone, it is important that you remember to keep your immediate contact information updated so that you can be reached quickly by a potential buyer.

One important step to take if you have inherited the burial property is to make sure that you alert the cemetery that ownership of the property has transferred to you.  Failure to do this can result in last minute hold-ups with the transfer of rights to bury to your potential buyer.  You should also make sure you understand what is included in your ownership.  Many times you may have been bequeathed the plot rights but the additional costs for the opening and closing of the grave, along with the required grave liner, were not also purchased.  If this is the case it’s important to alert your buyer that the purchase does not include these extra costs.

Making sure that you have adequately organized the information and details surrounding the cemetery plots for sale that you have registered will help to assure that your buyer is able to complete the purchase of the burial property quickly and efficiently.

Cemetery Plots for Sale: Seller Beware

For those who may own unwanted cemetery plots, understanding how to turn that unused burial property into a financial investment can be confusing.  Though it seems that selling burial property should be the same as selling anything else you may own, the sale of cemetery plots are an entirely different kind of transaction.

People come to own unwanted burial property for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’ve relocated with no intentions of moving again, but still own a burial plot across country. Another common way to acquire unwanted burial property is having it bequeathed to you at the time of a family member’s passing.  However you have come to own the unwanted property, it is important that you are aware of some common misconceptions or mistakes concerning the selling of your cemetery property.

How long does it take to sell cemetery plots?

The short answer is: forever.  Burial property is unique to any other sales transaction in that though cemetery plots are in high demand, they are only sold as needed and very quickly when the demand is present.  The only way to ever sell your burial property is to register it with a reputable and experienced cemetery registry. Once it’s registered, you will most likely have to wait months or even years until someone needs your property.  Once they do, though, the sale will happen within a few days, so you will need to have all of your paperwork ready to go.

Where do I sell my burial property?

There are several ways to sell your burial property.  Perhaps the most effective means is to register your property with an online cemetery registry.  These online databases host many other cemetery properties for sale, which means they will attract the most potential buyers.  Buyers won’t want to have to search hard for burial property.  They will want to have several options available to them when choosing a burial lot.  Having your burial lot listed with other lots will give more visibility to your property than if it was listed somewhere with few other cemetery lots.

The other advantage to having your burial property registered online is that you will have a global market potentially searching for a burial lot just like yours.  More and more families are living far apart, which means that often family members are forced to try to make funeral arrangements for loved ones who are thousands of miles away.  They won’t look in the classified section of your local newspaper for burial property.  They will go online to try to find cemetery plots there.

A Word of Caution

When considering where online to register your property, you must be careful of Cemetery Brokers who require a listing fee plus commission on the sale of your property.  These fees can become very steep, especially if they ask for advertising fees, too.  Also, because it can take months or years to sell your burial property, any listing service that requires you to constantly pay to maintain your listing will quickly drain any value out of the sale price of your property.  There are top quality online cemetery registries that only require one-time registration fees.

Patience will certainly be rewarded when it comes to selling your unwanted burial property.  Though it could take months or years to sell your property, there are no sales taxes on the sale of your burial property, and the value of the lot will always increase over time, so your patience truly is an investment that pays.

Cemetery Plots for Sale: How to find burial property

No one ever wants to think about death or dying.  However, facing death – either our own or the death of a loved one – is a fact of life.  Few people stop to think about what death entails beyond the loss of life.  There will be final arrangement details that may seem superficial compared to the loss of your loved one during your time of grief, but will be of utmost importance to attend to.

If the departed has pre-planned their own funeral arrangements, your job will simply be to make sure all of the details that were laid out ahead of time are followed.  More often, though, the loss of life is sudden and without warning, meaning you will need to make decisions quickly and efficiently. One of the first steps you will have to take is deciding how to handle the internment of the deceased.

In the U.S., traditional burial in a cemetery is still the first choice for final arrangements of the departed.  If your loved one did not already have burial property, this means you will need to find cemetery plots for sale.  Hardly anyone ever gives any thought to how cemetery plots are sold, so the idea of trying to locate one quickly – usually within only a few days time – is unimaginable.  Here are some suggestions of where you can start your search.

Funeral Homes

If you choose to use a funeral home and funeral director to help you with funeral arrangements, he or she will be able to assist you in locating burial property.  This is an easy and convenient means of finding burial space, but be sure to ask for several options of lots.

Online Cemetery Registry

An online Cemetery Registry will provide listings for burial property in your area.  There are registries that will also have listings for cemetery plots in other states if you need to plan a funeral for someone not living near you.  The nice thing about an online Cemetery Registry is that you will easily be able to see many options for what is available within the area or cemetery that you would like to make the final resting place for your loved one.

Religious Affiliates

Local religious leaders may have information about burial plots for sale, especially if you are in need of burial space within a certain religious cemetery property.

Veterans Administration

If the deceased was a veteran he or she may be able to be buried in a military cemetery.  You can check with the local veterans administration for information and availability.

Anyone Who Assists in Estate Planning

If the deceased had a will or trust, the consultant for that will or trust may know of available cemetery property.  Likewise, accountants, attorneys, estate planners – anyone who plays a role in taking care of matters surrounding death may have knowledge of available burial property.

A Word About Cost

Cemetery property is much like housing real estate in that location affects the price of the lot.  Not only does each cemetery affect the value of the property, but also the location within the cemetery.  One way to save money is to decide if you need to have a premium location for your loved ones final resting place.  Though lots located on hilltops and by waterways are nice, consider how often friends and family will visit the gravesite before making your final decision.  It’s a good idea to have someone less affected by the loss of your loved one accompany you when making the cemetery plot purchase.

Funeral Arrangements: What is the difference between a funeral and a memorial service?

Making funeral arrangements for a loved one’s passing, or pre-planning your own funeral or memorial service can be a confusing and overwhelming task.  When making funeral arrangements, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is what type of service is preferred.  Though the terms funeral and memorial service are sometimes used interchangeably, there are important differences between the two services.

The Funeral

A funeral refers to the ceremonies held prior to the burial of the deceased. The time frame for a funeral is one of the most significant differences between a funeral and memorial service. Usually a funeral is held close to the time of the passing of the deceased.

Typically funerals are associated with religious or cultural traditions, and can be held within the religious centers themselves, at a funeral home or graveside.  Many funeral services include a multi-day gathering time commonly referred to as a viewing.  Not all viewings include an open casket.  Some families choose to make the viewing a closed casket event, with individual family members reserving the right to see the deceased privately for final goodbyes.

Though this is not always the case, most often funerals are associated with traditional burial services rather than cremation. For this reason, many funerals conclude with a funeral procession to the actual burial site where a final ceremony may be held.

Funeral arrangements for traditional funeral services usually include plans for where the body is to be buried, selection of a funeral home to help with the arrangements, selection of music, eulogists, scripture readings, and selection of a religious officiant.

The Memorial Service

The memorial service has become increasingly popular as families and friends are more dispersed from one another than in previous generations.  Memorial services can occur anytime after the passing of a loved one, and often take place in cities other than where the deceased may have lived or been interred.

Memorial services are considered by some to be more secular, or non-religious services, though religious foundations to the service are not unusual.  Memorial services typically are less formal than traditional funeral services and also tend to have a “celebration of life” atmosphere.

Most families choose a memorial service when cremation is involved.  For this reason many people associate burial with funerals and cremation with memorial services.  However, it has also become more common for families to hold a burial service with a later memorial service to accommodate distant family and friends who may not be able to make travel and work plans quickly enough to participate in the funeral services.

Memorial service planning is not limited to a funeral home setting.  Many families choose to gather at a location of some significance to the deceased, for example a natural setting on a beach or at the home of a family member. Because there are usually fewer costs involved, memorial services also tend to be less expensive options than traditional funerals.  Memorial services can be simply a gathering of family and friends who come together to celebrate the life of the departed.

Making funeral arrangements for a loved one’s passing is an important part of the grieving process.  When choosing between a funeral or memorial service, take time to consider the kind of farewell ceremony that would have meant the most to the deceased, as well as taking into account the various travel plans necessary for family and friends.

Funeral Arrangements: Choosing a Memorial Marker

Part of your funeral arrangements planning may include the selection of a grave marker, also referred to as a headstone, gravestone or monument.  The selection of the burial marker is perhaps the most important choice you will make, aside from the actual location of the burial site.

The burial marker will be a permanent, lasting impression of your loved one.  This is not the time for hasty decisions. Don’t worry about having the monument ready for the actual day of the funeral.  Many families choose to place the marker at a later date, and may include a separate, private memorial service at that time.

There are several different types of grave markers from which to choose.  Here is a brief description of each of the most common choices:

Headstone

A headstone is the most popular type of grave marker selected during funeral arrangements planning.  It is important to check with the cemetery to find out about any height restrictions, material limitations, etc.  The headstone will usually have an epitaph, the name of the deceased, and birth and death dates.  Some headstones are very simple in design, while others may include shaped carvings, sculptures, statues, or etchings.  Be sure to research and ask for recommendations for reputable companies to ensure the quality and price of your headstone.

Flat Markers

Due to maintenance costs and limitations, some cemeteries (most commonly referred to as Memorial Parks) do not allow the use of headstones, instead requiring flat markers that allow for easier plot care.  Though simpler in design, much can be done with fonts, etchings and flat carving on these markers.

Bronze Memorial

Very much like the flat marker, bronze memorials lay flat with the ground and are the preferred choice of some cemeteries.  Bronze memorials can be made in various sizes and design.  Typically they are mounted to either a cement or granite base.

Monuments and Statues

Monuments and statues are typically larger memorial markers than most, and therefore also are more expensive choices.  It is important before choosing this type of memorial marker that you check with the cemetery to verify any size, design or material limitations.

Cremation Memorials

With the increase in the number of people choosing cremation, there has also been the creation of cremation memorials so that loved ones have a place to visit the deceased and as a physical remembrance of the life they lived.  Some memorials are very similar in style to grave markers.  There are also some cremation memorials that are in the style of benches, plaques or memorial gardens.

When making funeral arrangements for the recent passing of a loved one, be sure to take your time to thoroughly research the many options available to you for grave markers.  Remember that though this is one funeral expense that will have a lasting impression throughout time, there are still ways to try to be as cost-effective as possible.  Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of in your time of grief.  Have another family member or friend assist you in your selection process.

Additionally, when making your own funeral arrangements, it is possible to pre-order a grave marker.  The marker will be left blank until your passing when your vital information will be completed on it.  This is a good way to secure current market prices for grave markers. Much like cemetery property the costs of grave markers rises each year. Be sure to leave instructions with your pre-planning materials as to any additional epitaph or design you wish to have added.