Frequently Asked Questions

Why is having a place of memorialization to visit so important?
Because it provides a focal point for memorializing the deceased. To remember, and be remembered, are natural human needs. Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture. Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one’s mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.

What are the advantages of preplanning?
When you plan ahead, you are able to consider the many options available. You have the opportunity to make an informed decision about your funeral and cemetery arrangements, and the form of memorial you prefer. You are able to make choices that are meaningful to both you and your family, and you gain peace of mind knowing your family and friends will be relieved of the emotional and financial burden often associated with making arrangements when a death occurs. By prearranging your funeral and cemetery services, you benefit by buying at today’s prices, free from inflationary pressures in the future.

How do I choose the right type of grave?
Because it is an important decision – and because graves vary by size, location and price – many things must be considered. What type of memorial do you prefer? A marker set flat on the ground? An upright monument? How many burials do you expect to take place? Are you arranging for yourself or your family? How much do you want to spend? Answers to such questions will help you make the right purchase.

How much are the spaces? Why aren’t they priced the same all over?
Grave prices can really vary. Grave prices are normally set based on their location and can vary by the section in which the grave is located. For example, graves in a “feature” section—where there is a central feature such as a sculpture for the benefit of lot owners in that section—may be more expensive than in non-feature sections. Graves which allow for a monument are more expensive due to the space required for the monument and the additional upkeep required for the care of the memorial.

What is opening and closing and why is it so expensive?
Opening and closing fees can include many separate services. Typically, the opening and closing fee includes administration and permanent record keeping (determining ownership, obtaining permission and the completion of other documentation which may be required, entering the interment particulars in the interment register, maintaining all legal files); opening and closing the grave (locating the grave and laying out the boundaries, excavating and filling the interment space); installation and removal of the lowering device; placement and removal of artificial grass dressing at the grave site; leveling, tamping, re-grading and sodding the grave site; and leveling and re-sodding the grave if the earth settles.

Can we prepay for the opening and closing of the grave?
Currently, Happy Valley Memorial Park does not accept prepayment for opening and closing charges. Much of the opening and closing cost depends on the cost of labor, which can be impossible to predict in the future. Some life insurance policies address this, so it is best to speak with your insurance provider regarding this matter.

What are burial vaults?
These are the containers into which the casket is placed. Burial vaults are designed to protect the casket and may be made of a variety or combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, copper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass.

What options are available aside from traditional ground burial?
Aside from ground burial, Happy Valley Memorial Park offers interment in lawn crypts, entombment in mausoleums and numerous choices for those who have selected cremation, including placement of cremated remains in a mausoleum niche or interment in a grave space.

What is entombment?
Entombment is the interment of human remains in a tomb or mausoleum. It involves placing a casket or cremation urn in a crypt or niche (individual compartment within a mausoleum or columbarium), which is then sealed.

What is a mausoleum?
A community mausoleum simply is a large building designed to provide above-ground entombment for a large number of people. Sharing the costs of the mausoleum with other people makes it more affordable than a private mausoleum. Crypts are designed to hold casketed remains. Following a casket entombment, the crypt is sealed, and a granite or marble front is attached. Smaller spaces called “niches” will accommodate urns containing cremated remains. Following an urn entombment, a niche front of granite, marble, bronze, or glass is attached.

What are the advantages of a mausoleum burial?
Mausoleum crypts are both clean and dry. They offer a viable alternative for those who simply have an aversion to being interred in the ground. With a growing shortage of available land for cemetery use, mausoleums also allow for a maximum number of entombments in a minimum amount of space.

Isn’t mausoleum entombment more costly than traditional ground burial?
When you select a mausoleum, you eliminate the need for vaults and monuments or memorials, which almost always are purchased with traditional ground burial. In most cases, the cost of mausoleum entombment is comparable to costs of traditional ground burial; however, in some instances mausoleum entombment may be less expensive.

What are lawn crypts?
Lawn crypts are essentially underground tombs constructed of reinforced concrete, steel and waterproof materials. Lawn crypts are pre-set before the time of death.

What is a columbarium?
A columbarium, often located within a mausoleum or chapel, is constructed of numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains.

If I’m going to be cremated, why would I want my remains to be placed in a columbarium or interred at the cemetery? Why shouldn’t I just have them scattered in the sea or in some other place of my choosing?
As long as it is permitted by local regulations, your cremated remains can be scattered in a place that is meaningful to you. This can, however, present difficulties for your survivors.
Some people may find it hard to simply pour the mortal remains of a loved one out onto the ground or into the sea. If you wish to be scattered somewhere, it is therefore important to discuss your wishes ahead of time with the person or persons who will actually have to do the scattering.
Another difficulty with scattering can occur when the remains are disposed of in an anonymous, unmarked or public place. Access to the area may be restricted for some reason in the future, undeveloped land may be developed or any of a host of other conditions may arise that could make it difficult for your survivors to visit the site to remember you. Even if your cremated remains are scattered in your backyard, what happens if your survivors relocate sometime in the future? Once scattered, cremated remains cannot easily be collected back up.
Having your remains placed or interred on a cemetery’s grounds ensures that future generations will have a place to go to remember. If remains are scattered somewhere outside the cemetery, many cemeteries will allow you to place a memorial of some type on the cemetery grounds. This ensures survivors will have a place to visit that will always be maintained and preserved.

Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?
No, embalming is not required for burial. It is your choice. Choosing not to embalm may depend on such factors as whether the family selects a service with a public viewing of the body, wants to enhance the deceased’s appearance for a private family viewing, intends to have the body transported by air or rail, or chooses to extend the length of time prior to burial or cremation.

What is Perpetual Care?
A portion of the purchase price of the grave is contributed to a perpetual care fund. Income from that fund is used to provide regular care and maintenance at the cemetery. Regular care and maintenance can include cutting grass, re-grading of graves, planting and caring for trees, and maintaining water supply systems, roads, drainage, etc.

When I buy a grave space, do I receive a deed like when I buy other types of real estate?
When you buy a grave space you actually are buying the right to designate who may be interred in the space, rather than buying the grave space itself. The space remains the property and responsibility of the cemetery. A deed to this right is issued to the purchaser.

Is cemetery property tax deductible?
No, the purchase of a grave is not tax-deductible, although the charitable donation of unwanted grave spaces may be deductible as an “in kind” charitable contribution. Check with a knowledgeable tax adviser for details. Even without a tax break, a grave purchase today avoids rising costs in the future.

Do you have a payment plan?
Yes. For all preneed arrangements Happy Valley Memorial Park has financing options designed to fit any budget. At the time of a death, however, payment must be made in full for all property/merchandise purchased or services rendered.

Isn’t burial space becoming scarce?
While it is true some metropolitan areas have limited available cemetery space, most areas of the country have enough space set aside for the next 50 years without creating new cemeteries. In addition, land available for new cemeteries is more than adequate, especially with the increase in entombment and multi-level grave burial.

What happens when a cemetery runs out of land?
When a cemetery runs out of land, it continues to operate and serve the community. Because more and more individuals and families are buying their graves in advance, graves that have been sold will be opened when a death occurs, markers will be placed and other services will be provided. Most states have laws that require funds to be set aside from each sale for the long-term care and maintenance of the cemetery. The amount to be set aside varies from state to state. Tennessee requires 20 percent of the grave purchase price to be placed into an endowment care fund.

If I choose a plot now, what assurances do I have that I actually will get that specific space when I die?
Cemeteries are required to keep accurate records describing the ownership of “Interment Rights,” or the right to use a space. These include numbering systems that ensure no space is assigned to more than one owner, except as specified by the purchaser.

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