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About Minnesota Cemeteries


Cemeteries are typically divided into two broad categories: traditional cemeteries and memorial parks or gardens. A traditional cemetery, the type used for many generations, has upright monuments. Many traditional cemeteries also have mausoleums for above-ground interment. Memorial parks are a newer type of cemetery introduced about 75 years ago. Instead of upright monuments, bronze memorials are placed level with the ground to blend with the landscape.

Both may offer burial and cremation options, and may have a chapel, crematory, community mausoleum or columbarium. Most cemeteries are rich in local history and art, and feature beautiful landscaping.

Who owns and operates the cemetery?

You’ll find most Minnesota cemeteries have a caring and attentive staff and take their duties and responsibilities very seriously. However, be sure you are aware of the organization’s history, finances and processes before making a decision.

A cemetery can be:
  • A nonprofit association, governed by a board of trustees or directors
  • Owned by a church, synagogue or other religious organization
  • City-owned, also called municipal
  • A for-profit company, public or private

Laws that govern Minnesota cemeteries

Minnesota cemeteries are governed by a set a laws that are updated periodically. Refer directly to the law for more information, or contact us with questions.

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 307 – private cemeteries (PDF)
Minnesota Statutes Chapter 306 – public cemeteries (PDF)

Endowment funds ensure a cemetery’s future

Endowment care funds ensure the long term ability of a cemetery to perform its duties, including property maintenance.

Per Minnesota law, all cemeteries must invest a portion of the purchase price of graves in an endowment care fund. Income from the fund is used to provide regular care and maintenance at the cemetery. Maintenance can include: cutting grass, planting and caring for trees, maintenance of water supply systems, roads, drainage, etc.

Endowment care funds are governed by laws in most states for consumer protection. Most cemeteries manage their endowment care funds very conservatively. Income from the fund can only be spent on care and maintenance of the cemetery.

Choices at a cemetery

Every cemetery offers its own set of choices for memorialization. You’ll find similarities in the kinds of property options available, and most cemeteries have options for both traditional burial and cremation.

Cemetery options include:
  • A traditional, in-ground lot
  • Mausoleum crypt (indoor)
  • Lawn crypt (outdoor)
  • Cremation burial
  • Cremation niche (in a columbarium, indoor or outdoor)
  • Ossuary for cremated remains
  • Cremation “scattering” options, in a pond or lake within the cemetery, may include a plaque with name and dates
  • Cenotaph (an engraved name on a plaque or monument for remains not located at the cemetery)

Cost of cemetery property

Cemetery property prices vary. They are generally set based on their location. Urban areas tend to be more expensive than rural areas because of the value of the land. In addition, within the cemetery, prices can vary depending on the section where the lot, crypt or niche is located. For example, graves in a "feature" section, where there is a sculpture or work of art, may be more expensive than in non-feature sections. The number of interments allowed in a grave may also affect the price, as may the size of the grave. Graves that allow for a monument are more expensive because of the space required for the monument.

Questions to ask

Your cemetery or funeral provider can help you make decisions based on their knowledge of cemetery property and experience with other families. When purchasing cemetery property, consider the following questions to help guide your decisions:
  • Do you want traditional in-ground burial, above-ground crypt entombment or cremation options?
  • If choosing cremation, do you want a place to be remembered where loved ones can visit?
  • Do you prefer for loved ones to visit a space that is indoors or outdoors?
  • Are you arranging for yourself or your family? How many burials do you expect to take place? Do you want to be near other family members?
  • What type of memorial do you prefer? Would you like a marker, set flat on the ground? Are you interested in an upright monument or sculpture?
  • If choosing cremation, where will the cremation take place?
  • What is your budget?
  • How will you pay? Would you like to pay in installments?
  • Who should contact the cemetery at the time of death?