The Importance of Verifying Your Family Plot

By: Barry Wien and Frank Patti
Thursday, September 15, 2016

In today’s day and age consumers are used to verifying all transactions in an instant.  Whether it be travel plans, a dinner reservation, or receipt of a bill simply by using an app on their phone or visiting a website on their computer.   Yet, one of the most important items cannot be found online and can generally not be confirmed alone, cemetery grave space.


When asked, most families know what cemetery they will be using when the need arises.  Usually, an elder of the family bought a plot years ago.   Perhaps the individual belonged to a society that offered grave entitlement as a benefit.  No matter how acquired, there are many of us who are entitled to grave space, but may not be able to use it when the time comes due to permits and ownership verification which is commonly required by cemeteries.


Many cemeteries in our area have sections that the cemetery retained rights to and sold to individuals for at-need and future use.  These same cemeteries also have sections that were purchased by organizations.   Those organizations then sold them or gave them to their members.   What many fail to realize is that the organization retains the right to control the grave and must grant permission and authorize the cemetery to allow its use.  These organizations or “societies” generally have a cemetery chairman who has custody of the “grave maps” and who has the authority to issue permits.


Over the years, many of these societies have disbanded and many of the cemetery chairmen have aged, moved, or died.   The cemeteries rely on these organizations to update their contact information.  This does not always happen.   In these instances, the cemeteries do not have the authority to open the graves and therefore burials are often delayed or new graves are purchased.


Recently, a family came to us seeking help.  Their mother had died and they wanted to have the funeral as soon as possible.   The grave they had reserved had been purchased many years ago and was purchased through a benevolent organization.  The family had the paperwork showing they purchased it, yet the society had disbanded and there was only one person left to sign the authorization to use the grave; that person happened to be out of the country.   The family was forced to purchase a new grave, in a different section, so the burial could take place in a timely manner.


These are situations that funeral homes deal with constantly, yet families are completely unfamiliar with.  This adds stress to a family at an already stressful time.   All of this can be avoided by having advanced confirmation of grave space.  


We at Eden Memorial offer this assistance free to any family.  We will work with the cemetery to determine what will be required at the time of death and who will need to be contacted.  We will insure that the organization exists and that all contact numbers need to acquire permits are current and accurate.  All of this is performed free of charge as a courtesy to the community.


Eden has performed this service to countless families in a pre-need capacity.  We have volunteered our services to over 50 societies and cemetery chairmen who no longer can or desire to be responsible for the permits and the maps associated with these graves.    Some of the organizations we are associated with are:  The Claremore Club, The Workman’s Circle, The Sephardic Brotherhood, Knights of Pythias, Oddfellows,  Association of Yugoslavian Jews, Bayonne Hebrew Benevolent, Mt. Sair Lodge, Defender’s Benevolent, Liberty Benevolent, Linas Hazedeck, Olympic Lodge, Louis Kossouth Lodge, Solon Lodge,  Adas Israel of Bayonne,  Daughters of Israel Bayonne, Samuel Tichner Society, Temple Beth El North Bergen, Temple Sinai Tenafly, The New Synagogue of Fort Lee.   These are a sampling of the societies that we represent and there are hundreds of others that we deal with during the normal course of arranging funerals. 


We strongly encourage you take advantage of this invaluable free service to insure that a final resting place is ready and available when the need occurs.  

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