What to Know Before Buying a Burial Plot


Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy. In addition to navigating grief, you’re also expected to make difficult financial decisions in incredibly short timelines. One of these decisions may even be whether or not to purchase a cemetery plot. 

Surprising as it may sound, legal issues can complicate the seemingly simple step of buying a burial plot. In fact, the purchase of a cemetery plot is, in some ways, similar to a real estate transaction. Factors such as the type of burial plot, the positioning of the plot, and where the plot is located can even impact the complexity of the purchase.

If you’re confused or overwhelmed by this process, know that our team at Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons is here to help. In this guide, we’ll cover every factor you need to consider before buying a burial plot.

Types of Burial Plots

There are four primary types of burial plots: single, companion/double, family, and urn.

Single Burial Plots

A single plot is intended for one individual and their casket. While single burial plots are typically 10 feet by 20 feet in size, some cemeteries may offer smaller or larger plots to accommodate non-standard-sized caskets.

Companion Burial Plots

When you think of a companion burial plot, you usually think of a husband and wife being buried side-by-side in two plots that are sold together. Another type of companion plot is the “double depth” plot. Essentially a single plot, the double depth plot contains two caskets that have been placed on top of each other. The double depth plot is actually more affordable when compared to purchasing two plots for two caskets.

Family Burial Plots

When a family wants to be buried together in a specific area of a cemetery, they will buy several plots to accommodate family members only. A family burial plot is commonly marked by a headstone big enough to be engraved with the names and birth/death dates of members buried within the plot.

Burial Plots for Cremation Remains

It’s also possible to purchase a cemetery plot for urns. Most cemeteries allow you to place multiple urns in one burial plot since urns don’t take up as much space as caskets.

Costs of a Burial Plot

Multiple factors will influence the total cost of a burial plot.

First, the type of burial plot will influence the cost. In general, urn plots are the least expensive and can range between $350 and $2,500, while single burial plots can range between $700 and $5,000.

Next, the location of the burial plot will also influence the cost. Plots located under trees or on the peripheries of cemeteries cost more than plots located in the middle of a cemetery. Additionally, burial plots are generally less expensive in rural areas compared to urban areas. You should also be aware that all burial plot types are cemetery-specific, meaning that some cemeteries may only offer single plots while others may expand to include double or family plots. 

Additional Costs

The cost of a burial plot only covers the plot itself. Headstones and other plot markers are actually separate costs. Professional gravestone cleaning is also not included in your final burial plot cost. The person who owns the plot and gravestone is also responsible for its upkeep, not the cemetery. If you don’t live near a loved one’s final resting place, you may have to pay a local servicing company to take care of these maintenance needs.

Selling a Burial Plot Back to the Cemetery

If you’re pre-planning your funeral and have already purchased a plot, you do have the option of selling that plot back to the cemetery. Other reasons for selling a plot back to a cemetery include divorce, inheriting an unwanted burial plot, or deciding to be cremated instead of interred after buying a burial plot.

Length of Ownership

When you purchase a cemetery plot, that plot is yours forever unless you sell it or transfer it to another person via a will or a legal alternative to a will. However, the state in which the burial plot is located may take the plot away from the owner for specific reasons.

When Can Burial Plots Be Reclaimed?

When you buy a burial plot, you are not actually buying the land constituting the plot. Instead, you are buying an easement (license) to use this piece of land solely for interment. In other words, you cannot use a burial plot for anything other than burying a loved one.

Some U.S. states even have laws that allow them to reclaim burial plots under extraordinary circumstances. For example, if a burial plot remains unused for three or four decades, and no arrangements have been made to maintain the plot, the state could, in theory, return the plot to the cemetery. Since cemeteries have different regulations regarding how long a burial plot can remain unattended and unused, you will need to ask the cemetery you’ve chosen about their time limitations for burial plots. 

Learn More From Wujek-Calcaterra

Whether you’re pre-planning your own funeral or purchasing a cemetery plot for a loved one who has passed, you can trust Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons for friendly, compassionate assistance. Founded over 100 years ago, we’re a family-owned and -operated funeral home serving individuals and families throughout the metro Detroit area. 

If you have general questions about burial plots or need help planning your loved one’s funeral, contact us today—we’re here for you 24/7.

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