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After the decision has been made to use a cemetery the next decision is what type of burial plot to purchase. There are four main types of cemetery plots to choose from. Not all options will be available at all cemeteries.
- In Ground Plots - Burial in the ground is the traditional method of burial that most people in the United States are familiar with. An in ground burial plot will usually accommodate one burial. In some cases cemeteries will allow a casket to be placed on top of another in one plot.
- Mausoleums - Mausoleums are above ground structures that are designed to hold one or more caskets. They can be private and designed to hold the members of one family. Other mausoleums are large and spaces are purchased individually.
- Lawn Crypts - Lawn crypts are essentially mausoleums underground. Individual cemeteries may handle them differently but essentially a concrete structure is placed underground that will accommodate multiple caskets. They can be built to accommodate the number of future burials that are anticipated.
- Columbarium Niches - Cremated remains can be places in a columbarium niche. These are structures designed with shelves or niches designed to display urns.
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When it comes time to make the choice of a burial location there are different types of cemeteries to choose from. There are primarily four types of cemeteries found in the United Sates. Each one has different considerations.
- District Cemeteries - These cemeteries are owned and run by local governments such as cities or counties. They are usually open to all residents of the area who can afford to pay the fees for a plot. There may be restrictions on how many plots can be owned by one person or family.
- Religious Cemeteries - Religious organizations often own and run cemeteries. These are usually open to members of the specific religion. Many times they are adjacent to a church or other religious facility but do not have to be.
- Private Cemeteries - Private individual or corporations run many cemeteries. They generally have no religious affiliation and are open to anyone. They may have sections devoted to different religious denominations. These are run as for profit businesses.
- Veterans' Cemeteries - Veterans cemeteries are run specifically by the government for the burial of veterans and sometimes their families. There are restrictions on who can be buried in which cemetery. For more information on the specifics please refer to the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
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There are many things that go into choosing a cemetery. Give these topics some thought before making a decision.
- Location - Select a location that is nearby if routine visits are planned. Most people enjoy visiting the graves of their loved ones on special occasions such as birthdays and holidays. A grave located in another city will make this difficult.
- Religion - Consider the religious preferences and beliefs of the deceased. It may be important to them to be in a religious cemetery. Some religions have specific burial requirements and practices that should be followed.
- Aesthetics - Look around the prospective cemetery and see if you like the way it is landscaped and maintained. Think about whether the deceased person would like it. Check for benches or other comfortable places to sit if you will be visiting often.
- Security - Give careful consideration to the security of the cemetery. You want to feel safe visiting the grave. There is often security evident in larger cemeteries. It is not as common in smaller ones.
- Cost - Buying a burial plot is a major investment. Prices can vary widely. Insure that you have been informed of all of the costs associated with the plot before purchasing. There will be ongoing fees for maintenance in most cases.