Your Guide to Cemetery Burial Plots

Many people think about how they'd like to be memorialized. Some want to be buried in a beautiful garden. Others want to be entombed in a mausoleum. Even those who choose cremation may choose a cemetery memorialization.


A spot in a cemetery is not only a final resting place, it's also an opportunity to honor a special life and uphold a legacy. It provides a designated area for family and friends to visit, reflect and remember. Choosing a burial plot or other cemetery property ahead of time can help relieve your family of emotional and financial burdens. Though it can be a big purchase, it doesn't need to be stressful or confusing.

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How to buy

If you're not sure how to buy a cemetery plot, a Dignity Memorial® associate can help. Here are a few simple steps to choosing and purchasing a cemetery plot:

1. Research cemeteries where you'd like to purchase a plot.

Many people choose to buy a plot in a cemetery where family members have been laid to rest. That can make the cemetery choice easy. Or there might be only one cemetery with available property in your town—also an easy choice. If you don't know where to start or have a range of choices and don't know which you'd like best, it's a good idea to do some online research. The Dignity Memorial website is a great resource.

2. Reach out to prospective cemeteries.

Once you’ve researched cemeteries and found a few you're interested in, call to make appointments, send requests via email or simply walk in. A cemetery associate will meet with you to learn about your needs. They’ll ask you a series of questions to determine what you’re looking for, such as whether you want a plot for just one person or a family, or if you're considering traditional burial or cremation.

3. Consider the types of property available.

The cemetery associate will outline the types of plots and other property offered by the cemetery—not all types of property are available in all cemeteries.

4. Tour the cemeteries.

The cemetery associate will take you on a tour of the cemetery grounds. The tour will give you a sense of the kinds of property on offer, the locations of those options, the environment and the general upkeep of the cemetery. Nothing beats an in-person visit, but many cemeteries offer virtual tours if you're unable to go in person.

5. Decide on a cemetery. 

To decide which cemetery best suits your needs, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How close is the cemetery to the homes of people who will want to visit?
  • Are other loved ones already buried there or do they plan to be?
  • How do you feel about the look and feel of the cemetery?
  • Does the cemetery offer the kind of property you'd like to purchase, such as indoor mausoleum space or a cremation scattering garden?

6. Finalize and buy your plot.

When you've decided on the property for you, let a cemetery associate know to prepare a contract. You can also talk about financing options. Be sure you understand all the terms in your contract before you buy, as some may not be obvious. For example, opening and closing fees are not automatically included when you purchase a burial plot ahead of time.

Buying a plot before you need one gives you time to shop around to find just the right property and the best price. It also gives you time to discuss costs with your loved ones and arrange a payment plan to cover the costs over a period of time, rather than pay the full cost upfront.


Should you pass away before your purchased cemetery property is fully paid for, your family will receive some financial relief. Our Purchase Protection Plan will help take care of any remaining balance due to the cemetery.

Purchaser must be under 65 years of age; maximum forgiven balance not to exceed $5,000. Other restrictions may apply.

Mausoleums and other aboveground burial options

Whether you're selecting a final resting place for a loved one or beginning to think about your own arrangements, there are several options when it comes to aboveground burial, including:

  • Private mausoleums: Custom mausoleums built for individuals, couples or entire families. This is a good option for people who want a beautiful, unique resting place.
  • Community mausoleums: Public mausoleums with individual crypts. This is a more cost-effective option than a private mausoleum.
  • Columbaria: Structures filled with niches that hold cremation urns. Niches are usually sold individually, can be inside or outside, and have granite or glass fronts.

Each type can also be split into two categories: indoor, also called walk-in, and outdoor, also called walk-up or garden. Indoor mausoleums and columbaria have roofs and central vestibules or even chapels. They may be climate controlled. They sometimes include seating areas where visitors can rest and reflect.

Garden mausoleums and columbaria may look like walls of crypts or niches. They are sometimes surrounded by covered sidewalks.

Estate area at Forest Lawn Memorial Park

Family burial plots and other ground-burial options

In the simplest terms, traditional ground burial is when a casket or urn is buried in the earth. Dignity Memorial providers offer many in-ground burial options, including family burial in beautifully landscaped estate areas, individual burials in community gardens and in-ground individual and companion lawn crypts.

There are a few types of plots available for traditional burial and cremation, including:

  • Individual plots: A site for a single person.
  • Companion plots: A site large enough to accommodate two burials vertically or two side-by-side plots sold together. Couples often choose companion plots.
  • Walled estates: A group of burial plots surrounded by a stone or brick wall and gate. These are like a private cemetery within a cemetery. Families often choose walled estates.
  • Hedge estates: Similar to walled estates, a group of burial plots is surrounded by hedgerows. This is another good family option and less expensive than a walled estate.
  • Lawn crypts: Plots with burial containers already installed. Lawn crypts are like mausoleums but below ground and with no entryway. These can be a more affordable option than an individual or companion plot.

Each of these options can be customized to your preferences and budget.

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Create a lasting legacy

Many people don't realize the significance of choosing a final resting place. It is an important step in creating a family legacy, establishing a place of remembrance for future generations and paying tribute to a special life. Your Dignity Memorial professionals are here to help.

Get your free Buyer's Guide to Cemetery Property today.

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Monuments and markers

monument or marker is a permanent way to mark a burial site and memorialize a special life. Not all cemeteries allow for all types of markers, so be sure to ask when you're shopping for a cemetery.

  • Upright memorials: Also called a gravestone or headstone, it sits at the head of a grave space and can memorialize a single person or celebrate the lives of two or more people.
  • Upright monuments: Similar to but larger than an upright memorial, an upright monument is a more elaborate choice. It can memorialize a single person, companions or even a family.
  • Markers: Flush markers are even with the ground; bevel markers are only slightly taller. Ease of maintenance and property aesthetics are the reason some modern cemeteries allow only markers.

Cemetery property costs

The type of property and location make a big difference in the cost of cemetery property. Prices vary greatly depending on the kind of property, the location of the cemetery and the location of the property within the cemetery. For example, a waterside burial plot will cost more than a plot near a highway. A plot in a cemetery in Sacramento, California, will cost more than a comparable plot in Dalton, Georgia.

Regardless of your budget, your Dignity Memorial provider can help you find an option that works for you and your family.

Cemetery property and funeral planning

It’s important to remember that choosing a cemetery plot is only one part of the pre-planning process. The cost savings and peace of mind that come with selecting and paying for a plot ahead of time also applies to funeral or cremation arrangements. Being fully planned means ensuring all these elements are in place. 

When you make all your final arrangements in advance, you have the luxury of time. You'll be able to carefully consider all your options and create a truly personalized service. Your loved ones won't have to worry about guessing your wishes or finding the money during a difficult, grief-filled moment. In addition, you’ll avoid future price increases on many items. One of our associates can share more.