Frequently Asked Questions
Shown below are some of the most frequently asked questions
concerning memorialization. Your question may very well be answered.

 Frequently Asked Cemetery Questions
 Frequently Asked Funeral Home Questions
 Frequently Asked Memorial Questions

 Frequently Asked Cemetery Questions

What cemetery should I choose?

The choice of a cemetery is an important one which requires thought and careful consideration. Philosophies are different in this land of ours. Some families will visit the cemetery 12 or more times a year. Some families will visit the cemetery 6 times a year while others will visit the cemetery once every year or so. The frequency that you visit the cemetery is going to have an impact on your decision as to where to buy your lots. If you visit the cemetery often, it would be wise to choose a cemetery close to your home. If you visit the cemetery only a few times a year, it is not as important that the cemetery be close to home. Discuss the possible choices of a cemetery with family members. If this is your first time and if you have little or no experience with the cemetery industry, seek advice from your funeral director, friends, family members and from your local memorial dealer. Get help! You will make wiser decisions and you will make better financial
There are basically four types of cemeteries. The first type is the small church cemetery. These cemeteries are owned and operated by small local churches. They are usually located next to or behind the church. In order to purchase lots in the church cemetery you usually must be a member of the church. These small church cemeteries are very desirable because the acquisition price is usually very low and there are generally few restrictions. Lots in church cemeteries are my number one choice and should be your number one choice if you have the option to purchase these lots.
The second type cemetery is a large cemetery owned by the church but operated as a for-profit cemetery. These cemeteries vary greatly. Some of these cemeteries are reasonably priced while others are very high priced cemeteries. Some of these cemeteries are actually operated by the church but many are operated by other outside companies for the church. Ask your funeral director or memorial dealer for some information about any particular cemetery your are considering.
The third type cemetery is a privately owned large cemetery. These cemeteries are usually not as high priced as the corporately-owned cemeteries but their numbers are diminishing. Corporate America has gobbled up most of these cemeteries across the country. Those that are left often operate at an advantage because they can price their lots lower than corporate cemeteries but still higher than they would have been priced if corporate America was not in the picture. Lots in these cemeteries will not cost as much as they will in corporately-owned cemeteries. Costs for opening and closing graves will also be less expensive.
The fourth type of cemetery is the corporately-owned cemetery. Expect to pay high prices for lots in these cemeteries. Expect to pay high prices for opening and closing graves in these cemeteries. I personally would avoid these cemeteries if at all possible. Many of the large cemeteries across the country are owned by corporate America. In your area it is possible that all of your local cemeteries might be controlled by corporate America. This makes decisions difficult at times. However, remember that you can still shop and compare prices from cemetery to cemetery. You also can present any cemetery with a counter-proposal. They might accept it.
Cemeteries can also be classified as traditional parks or memorial parks. A traditional park is a cemetery which has traditional upright memorials . A memorial park is a cemetery which has lawn level memorials in either bronze or granite. Look at both types and as a family decide which you prefer. This is a personal decision. Be sure that you know the difference before you purchase your lots.

My cemetery called and said that it is urgent that I visit the cemetery to verify records being transferred to microfilm. What should I do?

Do not worry! You do not have to go to the cemetery. This is a typical marketing strategy intended to get you in to the office so that they can make a high pressured sales pitch to try to get you to buy vaults in advance or to pay for pre-need grave openings in advance. Your lots are safe!. The best thing to do is to say thanks but no thanks!

We had a death in the family and the cemetery insisted that we go to the cemetery before they would open the grave for us. Why?

This is another tactic on the part of many cemeteries to get you in to their office so that they can sell you something. If they absolutely insist, tell them that you will be in to sign an authorization to open the gravesite. Tell them that you are not interested in any sales pitches whatsoever.Make it clear that you do not want to be subjected to any attempt to sell anything at this time. In the state of Maryland, there is a 15 day grace period during which no one is allowed to sollicit business from members of a family in mourning. The family can initiate inquiries about possible purchases of memorial goods. However, no one is allowed to try to sell you anything until 2 weeks has passed from the date of death.

The cemetery we have selected insists that they will only sell us lots if we buy a package deal which will include the graves, vaults and a memorial. What should we do?

No package deals please! Cemeteries lead you to believe that you will save money by purchasing their package deals. You are not required to purchase lots which involve tie-in arrangements for other cemetery and/or memorial products. Find another cemetery.

Our cemetery sales representative keeps calling and calling everyday. He is really a high-pressured sales person. What should we do?

Tell him politely but firmly that you value your privacy and that you insist that he stop calling. When and if you are interested, you can initiate a call to him. Make it clear that you do not want him to call again. He must respect your wishes.

Our cemetery sales person told us that we have to purchase our memorial from them. If we purchase a memorial from someone else, we will lose care rights. What can we do? Their price is double the price of the local memorial dealer.

It is illegal for any cemetery to require you to purchase a memorial from them. You have the right to purchase your memorial from anyone. You do not lose any perpetual care rights. This cemetery should be reported to the Cemetery Oversight Committee for action. They have violated the regulations and rules of the state. Do not allow them to pressure you in a such a manner. Stand up for your rights. If you need further help call me.

We have decided to purchase our memorial from a local memorial dealer. The cemetery says that only they can install the bronze memorial. Their charge to do so is very high. What can we do?

Call me. The cemetery has the right to offer the service of installing a bronze memorial or installing a foundation for a memorial. However, they cannot require that your purchase their service. As an authorized memorial dealer, I install memorials and foundation in all cemeteries. The cemetery is required to stake-off the site so that installation can be accomplished. They are entitled to be re-imbursed for their time to perform thestake-off. The average fee is approximately $75.00. There are some cemeteries which require additional care fees. These fees may or may not be applicable. Call me for further information.

Our cemetery is trying to convince us to buy a bronze memorial from them. Their prices are high, much higher than a local memorial dealer. They insist that the reason is that they use better quality materials than memorial dealers. What should we do?

The cemetery is using another one of their many tactics to convince you that you should pay their higher prices. The quality of the bronze memorial will not vary. There are 6 or 7 bronze foundries across the country. Memorial dealers and cemeteries buy from the same suppliers. In fact, most corporate cemeteries purchase their bronze memorials from just a few of the major bronze memorial suppliers such as Matthews Bronze or Granit-Bronze or Gorham. Matthews Bronze Corporation in fact owns Gorham and Sheidow. Many local memorial dealers have contacts with a few smaller bronze foundries. Therefore, you may have a greater selection from a local memorial dealer. Ask your local memorial dealer. Of course, the different foundries have different designs. Your decision should be based upon the design you like at the price you can afford.

We are planning to make pre-need arrangements. We already have our cemetery lots. Should we buy vaults now? Should we pay in advance for our future grave openings?

Please check out our Pre-Need information for more details. In general, if you are making pre-need arrangements I do not advise anyone to purchase a vault from the cemetery. You can include the purchase of the concrete liner or vault with your pre-need arrangements with the funeral home. In Maryland all monies for pre-need arrangements through funeral homes must be escrowed which means simply that your investment is protected fully. The same is not true with cemeteries. I also do not advise pre-payment of grave opeings for the very same reason. That money will not be fully protected. You can include these costs in your pre-need arrangements with your funeral director if they are willing to do so. If not, you can create your own escrow with specific instructions left in your will as to how the money is to be spent.

 Frequently Asked Funeral Home Questions

Which funeral home should we choose? Are they all the same?

The choice of a funeral home is a critical choice. You need someone to represent your best interests in an honest manner. I cannot tell you specifically which funeral home to select. I can give you some basic pointers.
First of all, the first thing you should ask is the ownership of the funeral home. If the home is corporately owned the average funeral usually costs between $9,000 to $12,000. If the family is owned by a local family the average price is usually between $5,000 to $7,000. These are national statistics which usually are very accurate. Studies have shown that you will pay much higher prices at corporately owned funeral homes. Be careful because some corporate giants have purchased funeral homes and they have retained the local family as employees to operate the home under the same name. The family does not control the pricing. The corporate structure does. You might receive wonderful personal service but the price might be too high.
Second, the location of the funeral home is important. Try to select a family owned and operated funeral home close to your home. You do not want to have to drive long distances while in mourning.
Finally, you need a caring individual with whom to talk. This is one of the most important points about selecting a funeral home. It is also one of the more difficult points. Talk with relatives and friends about their experiences. Referrals from those you know will help you make your decision. If you need help call your local memorial dealer for his advice and recommendations.

What do I need to know when I go to the funeral home to make arrangements for a funeral?

Be sure that you do not go alone. Take with you all documents you have that refer to your cemetery lots as well as your insurance policies, if you will be paying the funeral bill from the proceeds of such a policy. You might want to take pictures of your family member in case you decide to have a special funeral brochure or card prepared by the funeral home for you. If you have made decisions about the clothing for your loved one take the clothing with you.
When you arrive at the funeral home you will be interviewed by a funeral director who will explain their services and together you will plan the funeral. At some point you will be taken to a room where you will be able to select a casket. There will be a wide range of prices from which to choose. Stay within your funeral budget. Ask any questions you might have. Do not be afraid to ask any questions.
Once you have decided with your family discuss payment arrangements. Most homes will allow you to pay for the services when you receive insurance monies if that is your intention.
If you have not selected a cemetery ask the funeral director for recommendations if you need to do so. He may very well be able to assist you in making these arrangements. This is not the best time or manner in which to make choice of this type. If possible, arrange with several family members and/or friends to go with you to several cemeteries you are considering. Make sure that someone goes with you who is calm and able to help make wise decisions at this time.
Discuss the viewing if you have decided to have a viewing. You may want some private viewing time set aside for your self and the immediate family.
Make sure that before you leave the funeral home all of your questions have been answered. Do not leave the funeral home unless you are absolutely certain about the plans you have just made.
When making plans use your head. You want the best for your family but stay within your means.

Are funeral homes regulated?

Yes they are. Funeral homes operate under the guidelines of the FTC or the Federal Trade Commission. The guidelines are very specific. Funeral homes must provide itemized price lists of their services and they must follow the established rules of the FTC. In the state of Maryland there is also a mortuary board which oversees funeral homes. If you have any concerns or complaints you should contact them.

 Should I buy a bronze memorial or a traditional memorial?

This is a decision you must make based upon the requirements of your cemetery as well as your personal likes and dislikes. Bronze is called the metal of the ages because it is a permanent material. A bronze casting will last forever and the lettering will always be there to be seen. Bronze memorials are almost always installed level with the lawn and most cemeteries require that the bronze memorial be installed on a granmite base with at least a 2" border on all sides. They are generally used in cemeteries called memorial parks. Memorial parks are usually attractive cemeteries with all bronze memorials on granite bases level with the lawn. Most bronze memorials can be produced with a vase for flowers. Designs are somewhat limited by the available design patterns from the foundries. They can be personalized by using a wide range of emblems such as praying hands, crosses, masonic emblems, eastern stars, doves, religious, fraternal, civic and sports emblems. Although bronze memorials are permanent, the nature of the material is that it will patina. It will turn eventually to a light greenish tint. This is the nature of the material. Of course, bronze memorials can be refinished to look almost new. There have been some innovations in bronze memorialization today. Memorial pictures in porcelain with frames and bronze covers can easily be added. The newest innovation is the possibility of personalizing your family memorial by adding scenes taken from your own personal family pictures to tell the story of your loved ones lives. These scenes are actually cast in bronze and this innovation does allow you to really personalize the memorial for your family. It is somewhat expensive but quite nice.

Traditional memorials are usually made today in granite. There are many sizes, shapes and colors available today. The only limitation to you is your imagination. Upright memorials can be made to reflect the lives of your family members. At Standiford Memorials we import many different granite colors in many different shapes and sizes. We use our special computer systems as well as our many years of experience to help you design the memorial of your choice. We strongly recommend that an experienced memorialist be consulted before you make any decisions. Cemetery and funeral home sales persons simply lack the experience.

At Standiford Memorials we have some unique capabilities for memorial etchings to add special details to your memorial. Samples are shown in our section about etchings.

Must I purchase my memorial from the cemetery? They have lead me to believe that I must!

Some cemeteries tell you that you must purchase your memorial and/or your memorial installation from them. Some cemeteries lead you to believe that you must purchase from them or you will lose care rights. The answer to this frequently asked question is simple and clear. You have the right no matter what state you live in to purchase your memorial from the concern of your choice. No cemetery or third party individual can force you to buy from them. They can not create rules and/or fees or charges which force you to purchase from them or which make it financially impossible for you to purchase from someone else. Any cemetery or cemeterian who persists in trying to force you to purchase from them should be reported to the proper authorities. If you need additional information, please e-mail me at

I want to purchase a traditional upright memorial but my cemetery says that it is not allowed. What can I do?

You must determine the type cemetery your lots are in or the type section your lots are in. The cemetery does have the right to establish sections and even the entire cemetery as a memorial park with all memorials restricted to lawn level bronze and/or granite. This should be disclosed to you at the time you purchase your lots. I have had several cases where cemeteries were told that the purchaser wanted to purchase an upright memorial and they were sold lots in areas which were restricted to lawn level bronze memorials. In such cases, the cemetery must allow the upright memorial or they must pay to have the family members moved to an area where they can install an upright memorial. When purchasing lots it is important to discuss the type memorial you plan to purchase for your family and if need be make sure that the contract for the lot includes language which will specifically indicate that you can install an upright memorial.

I have compared prices with the cemetery and a local memorial dealer and the cemetery is so much higher. The salesperson insists that the higher prices are due to the better quality they provide. He insists that the memorialist uses materials which are not high quality. I do not know what to believe. Can you help?

The answer is rather simple. In most cases the local memorialist has been in business for many years. Experience is the key to good memorialization. The local memorialist will certainly have more experience in selecting materials and in designing your family memorial. Standiford Memorials, my company, has been in business since 1905. I have more than 43 years of experience in the business myself. Statistically, cemetery salespersons have been on the job for less than a year. The cemetery plants seeds in the minds of the consumer to try to convince them to pay their high prices. The contention that their higher prices are a result of their better quality is simply not a fact. I recommend that you trust the experience of your local memorialist to advise you as to the quality of the memorial he proposes for your family.

I have talked with several memorialists and many of them insist that my memorial must be made from a Barre or a Rock of Ages granite? They say that the Georgia granite is inferior. It does cost less. What is the real story?

This questions arises all of the time. I will explain as I have always explained to my families. When the Lord created this earth, many types of stone were created. Two of those types are marble and granite. Years ago, marble was used much more than granite simply because marble is by nature a soft material. White marble was easier to cut and carve. Granite is a much harder and permanent material but years ago it was much more difficult to cut and carve granite. As tools developed over the years and as technology improved, it became easier and more cost effective to work with granite. Granite is permanent. If you polish it the polished surface will remain and will not deteriorate. If you letter it, it will not fade. It is permanent. As a result of this permanence, granite is the material of choice today. The color of the granite depends upon the quarry from which the granite is extracted.
Barre granite or Rock of Ages granite comes from Barre, Vermont. It is a dark blue gray color with an even grain. There are several grades of the granite. The average person would find it next to impossible to determine the difference. Most memorialists use the medium or the dark stock. The fact is that Barre granite is a permanent material which is used perhaps 5% of the time.
Georgia granite comes from Elberton, Georgia which is located about one hour from Atlanta, Georgia. It is a fine grain blue gray granite with an even grain. There are light and dark grades of Elberton Blue. The better grade is the Dark Elberton Blue granite. Like Barre granite the Georgia granite is permanent. It is used about 50 to 60% of the time. More granite is quarried and manufactured in Elberton for monumental purposes than any city of the world. Elberton is known as the granite capitol of the world.
The Barre granite is a medium grain granite and the Georgia granite is a fine grain material. Both granites will absorb some moisture. All granites do. They will dry out quickly as the weather dries. Both granites over the course of many years will become soiled and might require cleaning. Barre granite seems to clean up faster than Georgia granite but they both can be cleaned very nicely by an experienced technician.
Georgia granite is the lower priced granite basically because manufacturing costs in the south are much lower than they are in the north. Barre is not better than Georgia any more than Georgia is better than Barre.
The bottom line is this. You should see the two materials. Compare the looks of the two materials. Compare the prices and decide based upon all of these factors. Do not choose Barre because someone tried to convince you that it is better. Both materials are fine and quality materials from which to design and manufacture your memorial. Today we do import as mentioned earlier many granites from India and China. These granites are black, red, mahogany, brown, green and blue and are very beautiful. As a local memorialist Standiford Memorials does keep a large inventory of these memorials on hand for you to see.

Cemetery Memorials Since 1905 ~101 Years of Memorial Service

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