What to do with unused graves

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Kenneth McKenzie

On the average, I meet with 1,100 families a year here at the mortuary. I would guesstimate 50 percent of those people I meet with have already purchased cemetery property. I would say a good 25 percent of those people have now decided to cremate and not utilize the grave(s) previously purchased. So, what do you do with the unused grave?
They do not make the nicest birthday or anniversary gifts. Most people think the cemetery will simply buy back the property. Sometimes this is true, but I typically see the cemetery buy back the grave(s) at the original purchase price. Most people do not choose this option because graves at one time were sold for as little as $45. If you do not do something with your grave while you are living, and have no intention of being placed within that plot, it is lost. Most cemetery property is not transferable after death. Yes, the grave remains unused forever.
My advice— donate your grave. You can get a nice tax write-off, and you can also help someone you do not even know and never knew.

Kenneth McKenzie is the owner of McKenzie Mortuary in Long Beach.