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Funerals/Second Right internment


Hi Cynthia,

I am purchasing a niche for my parents in the future.  They will be cremated. To save cost, I want to purchase one niche for both of them.  One niche is about $8000.  They said if I plan to add another person in the same niche, I would have to pay half the price, $4000.  This does not include the cremation and internment fee.
I asked why I would have to pay  $4000 if I own the niche.  The director said it'should state abiding law and it's called second right internment.  My question is who is the one dictating that $4000 price?  The state or the funeral home?  The cremation fee for both parents includes an internment fee of $800 for each parents already.  I don't understand what the $4000 is for.

Please enlighten me.



Hi Anna --

Boy, that's some pricey second right!! It's good your BS detector went off!

1) The cemetery - not the State - sets interment rights prices, and they can charge anything they want. 4000.00 for second rights on a niche is on the high end; where are you? Manhattan??? :-)

2) If you haven't already bought the niche, I'd consider shopping around. You'll always pay the highest price for the first right, and second rights are usually less.

3) Unless the funeral home owns the Mausoleum or Columbarium (where the niche is located), you should be buying this directly from the cemetery.

4) Unless the cemetery owns the crematory, they cannot sell you a cremation. In any event, you will be signing at least two contracts WITH TWO DIFFERENT ENTITIES. One will be the cemetery for the niche rights and the interment fee, and the other one will be the crematory fee and the services of the funeral director to manage the body at death and transport it to the crematory.

Sometimes YOU take the cremated remains from the crematory/funeral home to the cemetery, and sometimes they do. I think it's better if the family does it, because you're in more control of and contact with, the process.

If you want to ensure that the niche is cared for into the future, make sure you're at a cemetery that has a State protected endowment fund. In some states this is mandatory; in others, it's left up to the Cemetery. An endowment care fund puts a percentage of the first rights fee, at minimum, into a trust account. The trust account is permanent, and interest from the account is used to maintain the cemetery in the future.

That interest doesn't generate a lot of money, however - if the cemetery is putting in 15% of 1,000.00, that's only 150.00, and so annual interest of 3 percent is less than 10.00 a year. Not much in the scheme of things, but better than nothing!!

As a point of reference, I own two cemeteries out here in Oregon. We don't have columbarium niches or a mausoleum - we're all outdoors because we love nature!  A first right for a cremation burial (in a biodegradable urn) goes for between 795.00 and 1,795.00 depending on the plot size and location. Second rights are around 500.00. Small plots can have one additional second right; large plots can have up to 3 additional second rights. There are a couple of additional fees for graveside service, interment and admin, and we do require markers (but they can be fieldstones now) We're opening up a 'fern forest' for cremations, and we have wildflower sections for them now, too. (And yes, people can ship cremated remains in the mail!... So, there's some comparison for you...

In any event, you should definitely look around.

Hope that helped!

in trees



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Cynthia Beal


Typical questions include 1) Where can I go for a natural burial? 2) What types of coffins, urns and other "packaging" are best for natural decomposition? 3)How do I plan for a natural funeral? 4) Do I have to be embalmed? and other questions in this vein. I'm available to answer general consumer questions about natural burial, home and natural funerals, and sustainable cemetery management. I answer questions about general cemetery matters, and offer suggestions about how to deal with remains, cremated or buried, interment rights, rules for cemeteries and plot owners, covering conventional as well as alternative options. I also answer questions from professionals, home funeral guides, and family members about how to manage a natural funeral either in the mortuary or at the home, how to best use natural coffins and urns, and how to convert cemeteries to natural, sustainable practices. I will answer questions from volunteer cemetery managers about how to offer natural burial in their rural, Pioneer, or non-profit cemeteries. If I don't know an answer I'll refer the questioner to someone who does. DISCLAIMER -- I am a certified pre-need sales person in the State of Oregon. I am not a licensed attorney, tax adviser, estate planner, funeral director, embalmer, accountant, public official, or any other professional that may be associated with issues the question brings up and any answers I provide should not be relied upon if such expertise is required by the asker (as per the All Expert suggestion). I provide my own personal opinions, based on my experience in business, Nature and its systems, and with human beings after 55 years of life on the planet.


Natural burial and sustainable cemetery management experience: I'm the founder of the Natural Burial Company and a member of the Cemetery Association of Oregon. Over 25 years in the natural products industry, and over a decade of running the Natural Burial Company, founded in 2004. I've done some consulting for existing and start-up natural cemetery operations. I'm currently an instructor at Oregon State University, facilitating the creation of a program in sustainable cemetery management and stimulating research in cemetery-oriented processes and functions, and I own two historic cemeteries the feature natural burial, based in Oregon.

ICCFA - International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association Green Business Network Funeral Consumers Alliance

American Cemetery Magazine; Funeral Business Advisor; Real Goods Source Book; American Funeral Director Magazine, etc.

There is no degree in natural burials or funerals, and no accredited education provided for sustainable cemetery management. We're developing a program at Oregon State University but it hasn't fully launched yet.

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