Monday, October 19, 2009

Perpetual Care

Perpetual Care
Originally uploaded by midgefrazel
What does perpetual care really mean? I am hoping my readers have more information on this topic.

Notice that these gravestones are carved on the back side with a reminder to all that perpetual care is part of this plot of graves at Elm Grove Cemetery in Mystic, New London, CT.

On plot cards for my family in another cemetery, perpetual care is listed with a dollar amount. Is this pro-rated for the particular year [or century]?

Gaylord Cooper, in his book, Stories Told in Stone, gives this definition on page 117:

"Guarantee of eternal cemetery upkeep; funds are collected and set aside; sometimes markers are placed beside monuments, or inscriptions added to stones, to denote payment has been collected."

Does perpetual care also mean that the gravestones are protected from removal? Does this mean that if the gravestones have fallen over or are broken that it is the responsibility of the cemetery to repair them?


Cindy said...

Usually perpetual care means that any plantings will be cared for, if sodding is needed it will be done, and in general the 'housekeeping' of the grave with regards to the upkeep of the greenery, plants etc. This does not typically include replacement or repairs of stones that have been broken, worn or stolen. Often families pay as you go for perpetual care, other times they pay a lump sum for the care into the future. My grandmother paid for perpetual care for many years and when she decided to move, turned over empty remaining family plots that had been purchased in exchange for perpetual care of the plots that were used.

Midge Frazel said...

Thanks, Cindy. My experience is that it is tied to the landscaping rather than the restoration.

It has come up, however, that a cemetery in NY has removed gravestones due to non-payment of fees/ It is a "perpetual care" cemetery.

Cindy said...

I've never heard of such a thing! How tragic it would be if many years later one of us went to look for that stone and had no idea that it even existed or that there might be a remedy to have it replaced given the fees are paid. I certainly have never gone into a cemetery office asking if there was ever a stone for someone who's grave didn't appear to be marked with one. Guess now I should :-) That's very unfortunate - thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I found this site while looking for CT legislation regarding perpetual funds. Our cemetery promised that with the purchase price came lawncare of the plots. It wasn't long after we purchased plots that the sexton stole all of the funds. I know if funds are intended for perpetual care, only interest earned from that fund can be used for maintenance. Some states now require a certain percentage of revenue collected from plot sales to be put aside for this purpose to protect the consumer. Problem in CT, we have no such law, nothing to protect the fund from future thefts. It is totally up to the people running the cemetery as to how the fund is spent. Any general advice from legal experts who might stumble upon this site would be greatly appreciated. We have no funds for an attorney and have started to build another perpetual fund without the benefit of plot sales. The cemetery is just about out of space. Would some type of trust protect the fund? Thanks.

Midge Frazel said...

That's very sad. I think that perpetual care is now a part of the total "package" you pay for when you buy a plot. It must have been that the cemetery couldn't find people to contribute to the graves at a future date so they started re-thinking the fee structure.

Many cemeteries are "out of space" and many people are not buying plots anymore.