The first question you should ask is if the cemetery is licensed by the Maryland State Office of Cemetery Oversight. The next question is “Who is the trustee of the perpetual care fund?” Ask for evidence that the trust fund is irrevocable, and that only the income – but not the principal – can be used for the care of the cemetery.

Why should I make cemetery arrangements ahead of time?

If you don’t, your family will have to. There are many questions only you can answer. Would you choose traditional ground burial, mausoleum entombment, or cremation? Do you want cremation remains to be placed in a niche or buried?

Why do I have to think about it now?

No one wants to think about their death. But people purchase car insurance, fire insurance and even health insurance without expecting these tragedies to occur, yet we need protection against them. Buying cemetery property, goods and services before you need them will safeguard life insurance funds to care for the living, will allow you to acquire these at the lowest possible price, and at a time when you or your family is not grief-stricken. It is one more way you can protect your family against that time when your family must go on without you.

Will my life insurance take care of everything?

Absolutely not. No insurance policy tells your family where to buy cemetery property. Your insurance policy is intended to provide money for your heirs. Your family, or most likely your significant other, would be forced to make an emotion-filled decision alone, at a time when one tends to overspend. Your family would then be forced to make decisions that you could have made with them.

Can I afford it now?

Generally, when a death occurs, the cemetery property used must be paid for, in full, prior to internment. This can be a major expenditure. When you purchase before the time of need, you can take advantage of the lowest pre-need prices, and generally, you may choose from a variety of payment plans that meet your budget.

What if I want to be cremated?

All the more reason to plan ahead. Even if your instructions are in your will, wills are generally not read until long after the funeral. Then it is too late for your wishes to be carried out. The next question is what happens to the remains after cremation? Cremation is not disposition; it is only a method of preparing the body for memorialization. Are your cremated remains to be scattered? If so, where and by whom? Are there laws restricting scattering? You can choose an urn for a columbarium niche, space in an urn garden, a cremation bench, or a cemetery scattering garden. You can guarantee that your wishes will be carried out.

What if my parents already own cemetery property?

Your parents may have purchased family burial spaces when you were a child. There may even have been adequate spaces for you in the family lot. It is likely that you would not own the deed to that property in your own name. It may be that others in the family may need to use it before your family needs it. Find out if there is also room for both you and your spouse. You would certainly want to decide together if you even want to be buried in that cemetery.

What if we move out of the area?

The modern cemetery industry recognized the need of a mobile society, and began active exchange programs. If you should move at least 75 miles away, and decide that you want cemetery property there, contact a cemetery which is a member of the exchange program and request a transfer.