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.


Funeral Planning: What is a “Green” Funeral?

In recent years, efforts to “Go Green” have affected everything from your choice of disposable cups (ditch the Styrofoam) to the types of cars we buy (so long Hummer).  Not everyone realizes, though, that even funeral planning has been affected by our renewed environmental consciousness.  There is a growing trend within the funeral industry, prompted by environmental activists, to move to “Green” funerals.

So what is a Green funeral?  Green burial is known by several different names: Conservation Burial, Natural Burial, and eco-burials.  The three most basic differences between a regular burial and a Green burial are:

  • Formaldehyde is not used as an embalming fluid
  • No vault is typically built within the gravesite
  • Coffins are made out of biodegradable materials

The most significant difference in the burial process when funeral planning for a Green burial is the removal of formaldehyde as an embalming fluid.  Studies have shown that formaldehyde is a health risk for those who are exposed to it for long periods of time (like funeral workers).  There is also concern about what happens over time when it seeps into our waterways as the result of cemetery burials and decomposition.

Contrary to popular belief, embalming is not required by most states, unless transportation of the body is required across state lines, or a significant delay in burial is necessary.  In most cases a body can be kept preserved in a cooler or on dry ice for as long as four days.  In the event that embalming is deemed necessary, there are non-toxic embalming fluids now available, like glutaraldehyde.

The use of concrete vaults in gravesites has also come under criticism.  Some estimates say that as much as 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete is used each year in the U.S. as part of the burial process.  The frustration for many Green funeral enthusiasts is that most cemeteries require the use of reinforced vaults within the gravesite to help eliminate the settling of the land around the burial plot over time, making cemetery lawn maintenance more difficult.

In reaction to these requirements, there are an increasing number of Green Burial Grounds being established around the country.  If you are a conservationist, you should definitely consider self-arranged funeral planning to help ensure that you leave the world in the same way that you have tried to live in it.

Coffins made from materials such as wicker, bamboo, jute, or cardboard each provide rapid, biodegradable options.  Some people chose to skip a coffin altogether, opting instead to use shrouds.

Another option is to choose to skip a burial entirely, choosing instead to be cremated.  You should be sure to ask the crematorium what they are doing to reduce crematory emissions.  Though there is cause for concern regarding cremation to the carbon emissions and worries over mercury pollution, cause by the burning of mercury tooth fillings, the fact of the matter is, for people who live in areas where Green burial cannot take place due to cemetery regulations, cremation is ultimately a more environmentally friendly choice.

Another means of “Greening” your funeral planning, is to include plans for creating a memorial landscape, using native trees and plants.  This is a wonderful way to create a beautiful, meaningful memorial spot for someone who was cremated.

If your funeral planning is to include plans for a Green funeral, be sure to research more about the process.   The Green Burial Council is a nonprofit organization that was found to help promote and support natural burial options.  The Green Burial Council also certifies cemeteries and their operators as ecofriendly businesses.  You can access their list of approved providers by visiting their website.

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 cemetery plots.

Cemetery Plots for Sale: How to Finalize the Transfer of Your Burial Property

For those individuals who have cemetery plots for sale, one frequently asked question is exactly how does the final transfer of burial property actually happen?

It is highly recommended that prior to listing your burial property, you take the necessary steps to ensure that your cemetery plots for sale are “Immediate Need Ready.”  What does “Immediate Need Ready” mean?

Immediate Need Ready cemetery plots for sale are those plots that are ready to transfer to a buyer within 12 to 72 hours of initial contact.  Roughly 80% of all cemetery plots are sold on an immediate need basis.  In other words, someone’s loved one may die today and that person will need to find a burial place for that person sometime within the next 72 hours.

To ensure that your cemetery plots for sale are ready to be transferred immediately,  you will need to contact the cemetery where the plots are located and ask the following questions:

  • How do I transfer burial rights to someone in the lot(s) that I own within the next 72 hours?
  • What paperwork must be completed?
  • Do I need to call someone in order to transfer the burial rights, or does the family or funeral director do that?
  • How do I insure that all billing associated with the burial, include open and close of the burial site, is sent to the family to whom I am giving permission to bury to?

Take good notes, including names and dates of people to whom you’ve spoken or corresponded with.  When you are satisfied that you know the requirements by the cemetery of how to transfer the cemetery plots for sale, you are ready to register your burial property.

Keeping in mind that it can take years to sell your burial property, once a buyer has expressed interest in your cemetery plot,  the actual transfer process is relatively easy.

When transferring the deed to your cemetery plot, typically cemeteries use a single page document called a Quit Claim.  The cemetery should be able to send the document to you or help you with the transfer.  This is usually handled without hassle on the part of the cemetery officials.

The exchange of money is something to consider ahead of time as well.  Typically it is recommended that you establish an escrow account or electronic deposit number with your bank.  You want to eliminate the use of checks or money orders if at all possible.  And you definitely need to establish payment before any final cemetery plot transfers occur.

A word of caution for those with cemetery plots for sale.  Beware cemetery brokerage companies who charge a commission or representation fee, or both.  These cemetery brokers must possess a license to act as a broker in the state where the cemetery plot is being sold.  In almost all states there are very strict rules that cemetery brokers must follow.

It is not necessary for you to hire a cemetery broker to handle your cemetery plots for sale.  Your best financial option is to register the property with a company that attracts both buyers and sellers of burial property.  One such option is The Cemetery Registry. Ideally the company you do choose to register your cemetery property with should only charge you a one-time registration fee.  There is no need to pay any renewal fees, commissions, advertising fees, finder’s fees, etc.

Selling your burial property can be a very affordable, easy task to accomplish.  Just be sure that your property is Immediate Need Ready, that you understand how to transfer the deed, have a method for collecting payment that doesn’t require the use of personal checks or money orders, and that you have the property registered somewhere that charges a one-time flat fee for listing your burial property.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She writes frequently on the topic of funeral planning and information on how to sell cemetery plots.