A local television station in Sarasota, Florida aired a news story about a cemetery where the grass and weeds were so overgrown they sparked complaints from local residents walking their dog near the property. As a result, according to a WTSP 10 News report, “Protecting your loved ones last resting place,” Sarasota Memorial Park was told by county code officials to bring the grounds up to code or be fined. Not long after the news report aired, workers were seen doing maintenance on the grounds.
The people who had called to complain even called on volunteers to mow Sarasota Memorial Park. They mowed a section one morning until they were told to leave. However, their complaint to the County Code Enforcement Department resulted in a warning to the cemetery property owners. They were ordered to clean up the cemetery or face a notice of violation and fines.
Cemetery maintenance is contractual, and it’s expected when you pay for a plot. But a contract is only as good as the company behind it. Like anything else you purchase, you need to look carefully when making a decision about a burial plot.
Research the reputation of the cemetery you’re considering. Remember: just because the cemetery looks good now—like Sarasota Memorial Park—doesn’t mean it will stay beautiful forever. Prior to making a plot purchase, ask how much is in the endowment trust fund.
In Florida, state law dictates that 10% of the purchase price be placed in a trust fund for maintenance of the property, which is monitored by the state. Also, Florida State Statue §497.262 says that cemeteries are required to be “well cared for and maintained in a proper and dignified condition.”
When you meet with cemetery representatives, remember that you are making a significant purchase—as emotional as it may be. Take a photo of the plot on the day you make the purchase and share it with the family members who will be overseeing your funeral. If you visit the cemetery for any reason, go back to the plot and take another photo. If something is amiss, go to the office and speak with the person in charge. If the cemetery is not responsive, contact your local code enforcement office.
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