Ignoring the issue assures that, at the time of occurrence, a family member(s) will be faced with making the choices and paying the expenses that you avoided. At the time of their greatest grief, your neglect may force them into agonizing choices and serous expense.

Pre-planning your final expenses saves money, lets you make the choice and leaves familes with only the grief instead of the bills.

The Choices

A survey of three North Carolina perpetual-care cemeteries found the main options are: interment, in a traditional ground burial space, entombment, in a mausoleum space or inurnment, disposal of cremation remains (cremains) in a niche or columbarium space. Most cemeteries allow the ashes of the deceased person to be buried in a ground space but, for our purposes here, we will concentrate on the three basic choices.


If you have already purchased a ground burial space and believe you have everything planned, think again. For a ground burial, there is the requirement of a vault — a casket container made from steel, concrete or polyurethane — a marker, and the interment fee for the burial. This is also called an opening and closing fee or a charge for digging and filling in the grave.

If you want future generations to find you, there is also the cost of a marker. In the cemeteries surveyed, the requirements were a bronze marker on a granite slab, placed at grade level. A bronze vase for placing flowers can be added or left off. At the time of death, a death date scroll indicating the year or month, day and year of your passing would have to be cast in bronze and added to the marker. Other amenities such as a picture of the deceased, special emblems or wording on the bronze marker will cost extra.

In our North Carolina cemeteries, the total cost of a standard ground burial is around $6,000.00.


A mausoleum is also known as a crypt. A crypt burial is referred to as an entombment. Christ was entombed as were the pharaohs. A mausoleum entombment can be quite pricey as well. Generally, mausoleum spaces are sold as packages, which include the opening and closing, the lettering of the person’s name, birth and death dates and the mausoleum itself. Again, pictures, vases or lights to adorn the face plate are purchased at an extra cost.

Mausoleum spaces are sold based on their height from the ground level. Those at foot or knee level or above the head are less expensive than those where you may repose at waist or chest height. The basic package price for one mausoleum space at the most comfortable levels is roughly, $6,500.00.

Columbarium or Niche

On average, both funeral and burial costs double every decade. Due to such rising costs, cremation has become a viable option for many. Between the costs of the cremation itself and the final repository for the ashes, a person can actually have both for less than the cost of either a ground burial or a crypt entombment. A niche burial or placement in a columbarium is called an inurnment. Inurnment simply involves placing the ashes in a permanent place other than over the mantle at the home. At a perpetual care cemetery, relatives have access to the final space for Uncle Bob, mom or dad. Niches are sold much in the same way as a mausoleum — in a package. The space is small and therefore quite inexpensive — in comparison to other options.

Along with face plate lettering and no extras, a space at a columbarium or niche for cremation remains runs less than $2,000.00

Perpetual Care Cemeteries

Meshed into the cost of the various spaces for the state of North Carolina is a perpetual-care fee. Once there is no more property or merchandise for the private company to sell at one of these facilities, the state takes over and becomes the caretaker. The perpetual-care charge ensures that those who come later seeking names and dates of ancestors will be able to find them in a well-maintained facility.

As you pre-plan your final expenses, consider the fact that, even though they’re for-profit businesses, perpetual-care cemeteries have a sense of community built into them and your site will always be available to family members you will never know. Several decades ago, the state performed a survey of abandoned and lost church and family cemeteries. Their findings produced information that there were 10,000 such burial sites. A few years afterward, it was determined their estimated numbers were too low.

Although end-of-life plans in a perpetual-care cemetery may sound expensive to some, most cemeteries offer payment plans with a modest down payment and no credit check. If the cemetery is a member of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, (ICCFA), your purchase of cemetery property is even more secure. A membership in the ICCFA ensures that, if you move to another location, your dollar cost is transferable to another member cemetery in your new town or city.

Making plans now for your eventual resting place in a perpetual-care cemetery offers multiple advantages: