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by Tamika Johnson

Baby boomers are taking the initiative to find their ideal resting spot. Though this can be wrought with emotion, if you do your research before making the decision, you'll not only save money but also eliminate one of the difficult decisions your family will have to handle when the time comes. Beyond their functional value, cemeteries can be a place of peace and beauty, where family and friends can spend time celebrating your life and memory. Final resting places host rituals, family and post-funeral events, bringing visitors closer to an understanding of who they are and their own past, experiencing the commonalities they share. Walk around the location you're considering and see how the grounds are maintained, including older plots. Are the gravestones cleaned, has trash been removed, the grass trimmed? Ask for recommendations from friends and investigate the cemetery on the Better Business Bureau website. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Final resting places for cremated remains are vast, including traditional urns or garden stones. Ashes can also be scattered on golf courses, along hiking trails or in parks, though a permit or permission may be required. You may want to plant a tree, bush or flower in a meaningful location like a garden or park so that the new life that blossoms will enable your family and friends to see and feel your presence. If you decide on a burial plot, you can select your marker, monument or headstone and what should be written on them. Look for burial grounds that provide a peaceful environment, and think of them as a place where your loved ones will come to visit to reconcile their memories for years. Choose a spot that has sentimental meaning to you. You'd like your resting place to have qualified and compassionate personnel who can attend to the needs of your family and friends at a difficult time — their help and support are what really make a difference. Observe whether they provide and oversee perpetual care and interaction with the family and friends of the deceased residing there. As in all other real estate choices, think location as well as cost. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • What types of plot options are there?
  • How much do the options cost, and what's included and what's not? Are there any additional fees to consider?
  • What costs need to be considered for opening and closing the grave?
  • Who's responsible for maintaining the gravesite?
  • What are my responsibilities?
  • What are the rules and regulations about markers?
  • Are there any costs associated with marker/headstone installation?
  • What holidays are celebrated at the cemetery?
  • Do the personnel speak my language?
To avoid saddling your heirs with a decision at an already difficult time, explore your options and make your choice early so you can be comfortable with where you'll spend the hereafter.