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REAL QUESTIONS, STRAIGHT ANSWERS
 

Please click on any of the questions below to learn more.

  1. Bench: I saw one next to the road. Can I purchase one too?
  2. Bronze Memorial Questions:
  3. Buying Back Property: We have moved to Florida. Will you buy back our graves?
  4. Buying cemetery or funeral arrangements ahead of time (pre-need) – why should I?
  5. Cash Advances. What are they?
  6. Consumer Resource Guides
  7. Cremation: What do I do with the ashes?
  8. Cremation: what exactly happens?
  9. Cremation: I want to be cremated, but I want a traditional funeral first. Can I do that?
  10. Embalming, is it required? What does it do?
  11. Endowment Care, What is it?
  12. Floral Regulations for Ground Burials
  13. Floral Regulations for Mausoleums
  14. Funeral Home, Is your Funeral Home only for Jefferson Cemetery clients?
  15. Funeral Price Lists, Why does the FTC mandate them?
  16. Grave openings, why does it cost so much?
  17. Hours of the Cemetery Grounds, Office and Mausoleum
  18. Identification Viewing. What type of viewing is that?
  19. Irrevocable Agreements. Why would I make my contract irrevocable?
  20. Rules & Regulations. Why does a cemetery need them?
  21. Selling cemetery property: I have 2 extra spaces. Can I sell them?
  22. Stained Glass Window—I saw a number of them in the Mausoleum. Can I purchase one?
  23. Transferring unused cemetery property, non-personalized merchandise or services.
  24. Westminster Mausoleum Crypt, what is it?

1. Bench: I saw one next to the road. Can I purchase one, too?

In addition to a normal bronze memorial grave marker, some families want to do something extra special. Memory benches, often with special carving, have become very popular.

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2. Bronze Memorial Questions:

  • Who trims around Bronze Memorials?

    Trimming around bronze memorials is your family's responsibility.

  • Who repairs settled or sunken bronze memorials ?

    If you report this condition to the cemetery office we will see that it is lifted and reset.

  • The finish on the memorial is turning green, why?

    This is Patina. Patina is the aging process of bronze which is the direct result of a union between bronze and chemicals in the environment. Different mixtures and climates vary the rate of development but the end result is a patina of a dense, hard, permanent finish which commonly has a greenish cast and is sometimes called a verdi green.

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3. Buying Back Property: We have moved to Florida. Will you buy back our graves?

Jefferson will not generally repurchase graves. If you purchased them many years ago, we might offer to repurchase them at your original purchase price. If we make such an offer, carefully consider if it is in your best interest to accept it. You might be better served to sell them on the open market or give them to your children. See the sections on selling cemetery property and transferring unused cemetery property.

In addition, many cemeteries participate in the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association Lot Exchange Plan. Using this Plan you may transfer the dollar credit (not lot for lot) of what was originally paid to be used toward your purchase at a ICCFA exchange participating cemetery. Call Jefferson directly or visit the ICCFA website.
www.iccfa.com

As to why we cannot offer you a large repurchase price. In today’s world, if any business makes 10% at the end of the year, they are solvent. That means that 90% of every dollar that comes in the door goes out in various expenses. Most cemeteries bought their land fifty or even a hundred years ago. The low book value of the land (cost) is the only thing that allows them to continue today. If a cemetery gives you near current selling price for the spaces that is now their cost of those spaces. The minute they are sold it is at a loss. That is why most cemeteries do not restrict your ability to sell them on the open market. You are probably shaking your head over this explanation in disagreement. Jefferson has been in the cemetery industry for 78 years. This is a factual explanation. The advantage of accepting the cemeteries offer is we take them off your hands quickly (assuming that you have clear title) and we do not charge any fees when we repurchase property from you. You give us the property’s completed deed and we will give you a check. Look at it this way, if these graves were a term insurance policy, you would have paid the premiums for years, and when the policy expired without your dying, you would not get a refund from the insurance company. You had the insurance protection during the policy period, when the policy ended it ended. Here you have graves (the insurance) that were paid for over only a few years. The protection of owning cemetery property went on well past the number of years you were paying, and now the cemetery is willing to buy them back (no insurance company will do that). You didn’t purchase them to make money but to protect your family. They did that, and you could get all or some of your money back or they can be transferred to a new generation in your family. Not a bad investment all in all.

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4. Buying cemetery or funeral arrangements ahead of time (pre-need) – why should I?

When you plan ahead, you will be able to compare the many options available. You will be able to compare the services, the products and the prices among different companies. You will have the opportunity to make an informed decision about your funeral and cemetery arrangements, and the form of memorial you prefer. You will be able to make choices that are meaningful to both you and your family, and you will gain peace of mind knowing your family and friends will be relieved of the emotional and financial burden often associated with making arrangements when a death occurs. In addition, by pre-funding your funeral and cemetery services, a guaranteed price contract will allow you to purchase at today’s prices, free from inflationary pressures in the future.

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5. Cash Advances. What are they?

Cash Advances are items obtained from a third party and paid for by the funeral provider at the request of and on the client families behalf; such as newspaper notices, death certificates, flowers, honorariums, and cemetery or crematory fees.

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6. Consumer Resource Guides

The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) and the Pennsylvania Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (PCFA ) both publish extensive consumer resource guides to provide the public with straight answers to real questions.
 www.iccfa.com
 www.pccfa.com

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7. Cremation- what do I do with the ashes?

Most families wish to create a “Point of Remembrance” and therefore choose to inter the cremated human remains (cremains) in a cemetery. This allows a focal point for spouse, children and grandchildren to visit, place flowers and learn about their heritage.

There are numerous cremation options available at Jefferson Memorial Cemetery:

  1. You may bury cremains in the ground in special small grave spaces.
  2. You may bury cremains on top of an existing adult grave space or within the crypt of any existing adult mausoleum space. (These options depend on the type of burial property owned and the number of future or current interments).
  3. You may bury (called inurnment), in a niche. A niche is a single above ground receptacle designed to receive the cremated human remains. These receptacles are grouped together to form an indoor or outdoor columbarium.
  4. Cremated Human remains may be kept at home. Through only a few families feel comfortable with this. Some families will hold the cremains to be placed in the casket of the spouse in the future (cemetery must be notified for this to occur).
    1. Some families scatter part or all of the remains.
    2. Some bury some of the remains to have a point of remembrance and scatter the rest.
    3. Some families bury most of the remains and place small portions in specially designed remembrance jewelry to be retained by family members.

(Prior to any scattering we recommend that you check local municipal ordnances and/or State or National Park laws to avoid possible fines or other penalties.)

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8. Cremation: what exactly happens?

Cremation means a step in the preparation of human remains through a process of heat and evaporation whereby the body is reduced to its basic elements: bone fragments, not ashes.

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9. Cremation: I want to be cremated, but I want a traditional funeral first. Can I do that?

Yes you can. In fact, many families choose to have a traditional funeral ceremony with visitation followed by the actual cremation in preparation for the burial. This is so common that package 2 of the Complete Traditional Services and Facility Plans listed here is specifically tailored for families who make this choice at Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home.

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10. Embalming, is it required? What does it do?

Embalming means to disinfect, preserve (to a limited degree) and to restore the dead human body to a natural life-like appearance. Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing. If you do not want embalming, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial. Pennsylvania rules and regulations number 13.211A requires that any human remains held 24 hours beyond death be embalmed or sealed in a hermetically sealed container that will not allow fumes or odors to escape or shall be kept under refrigeration provided, however, that this does not conflict with any religious beliefs or medical examinations.

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11. Endowment Care, What is it?

From the purchase price of all plots sold by Jefferson, or from all plots sold, transferred, assigned, given, gifted or inherited from a deeded owner to a new owner, the Corporation deposits amounts as specified by the Rules and Regulations or statute into the Endowment Care Fund.
Endowed care means that within the limits permitted by the income derived from the plot’s Endowed Care Fund, the Cemetery grounds will be maintained in keeping with a well preserved burial park, including the cutting of grass, and trimming of shrubs and trees at reasonable intervals; the procuring, maintaining and keeping in reasonable condition the machinery, tools, and equipment needed for that purpose.

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12. Floral Regulations for Ground Burials

  1. ALL DECORATIONS OTHER THAN FRESH CUT FLOWERS WILL BE REMOVED FOR SPRING CLEAN UP STARTING MARCH 1 AND WILL BE DISPOSED OF BY THE CORPORATION.
  2. Fresh cut flowers only are permitted from March 1st to November 30th . All decorations other than fresh cut flowers will be removed when we do any work in the area. This includes making burials as well as mowing of the grass, etc.
  3. Wreaths and pine blankets may be placed no earlier than December 1st. They will be left on until the spring cleanup March 1st .
  4. The management shall have the authority to remove all flowers and floral designs as soon as, in sole judgement of the management, they become unsightly, diseased or dangerous, or when they do not conform to the standards maintained in the entire cemetery.
  5. The management reserves the right to regulate the method of decorating plots so that a uniform beauty may be maintained.
  6. When floral decorations are removed from the gravesite, unless taken away from the cemetery by those lawfully entitled to them, they may be disposed of by the Corporation in any manner it sees fit.
  7. The placing of anything other than floral decorations upon plots shall not be permitted, and, if so placed, will be removed and disposed of.
  8. Balloons, glass blocks and vigil lights are not permitted.
  9. No planting of flowers, shrubs, or trees by lot owners is permitted.
  10. Management prohibits the use of bronze vases during the snow season of November 30th to February 28th , as they are subject to damage by equipment or freezing water.
  11. Special Holidays – Nonconforming decorations, including potted plants, will be temporarily permitted 3 days before and one week (7 days) after Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day.
  12. Jefferson Memorial Park is not responsible for theft, or damage to anything placed on graves, lots, or mausoleum crypts.
  13. Funeral Flowers – The cemetery permits a total of three (3) baskets of flowers, casket sprays, or any combination thereof, to be placed at the chapel doors or gravesite on the day of the funeral. These flowers will be removed from the administration building chapel or mausoleum chapel at the conclusion of the service and place at the graveside. They will be removed 3 days after the interment.
  14. American Flags – To maintain the overall beauty of the cemetery by facilitation proper lawn maintenance and to remove the hazard to visitors by fallen and/or pointed standards and flag sticks and to protect the decorum of our flag by unattended flags falling to the ground, the American Flags placed upon graves for Memorial Day, Flag Day, Veteran’s Day, VE/VJ Day are removed one week (7 days) after the holiday. American Flags placed at any other time are removed prior to the next mowing. The American Flag of a Veteran is permitted to remain on the space for up to (90) days after Memorial Day provided the standard is removed and the flag properly supported within the vase of a bronze memorial. Any relative who wishes the flag to remain on the space of a family member shall each year, prior to the removal date, request in writing that the flag remain. If the flag has been removed, the Corporation will provide the relative with a flag for that individual to install in the vase.

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13. Floral Regulations for Mausoleums

  1. Interior Crypts
    1. Floral tributes of fresh cut, natural flowers only are allowed inside the mausoleum and will be removed as soon as, in the sole judgement of the management, they become unsightly or diseased.
    2. Potted plants are not permitted
    3. All flowers must be placed on the tables provided.
    4. No item may be attached directly to the crypt fronts nor placed in front of a crypt.
    5. Photographic images and personal cards my also be placed on the tables. Flower tables must be shared and personal items shall be removed at any time they infringe upon the rights of other visitors or thirty (30) days from their placement. The Corporation shall have no liability to any party for such items removed and disposed of.
    6. Flower rooms located within the building are available for use when arranging the bouquet.
  2. Exterior Crypts
    1. All decorations other than fresh floral arrangements will be removed from crypt fronts on the following dates: March 1, May 1, August 1, November 30. We ask for your cooperation in helping to maintain the appearance of the building by limiting decoration to seasonal arrangement, removing them when they become unsightly, and limiting the use of artificial flowers from March 1st to November 30th.
    2. No item (including photographs, cards or letters) may be attached directly to the granite crypt front. No wires, tape or hooks shall be attached to the exterior floral vase ring or bronze crypt front bar.
    3. Christmas wreaths may be placed no earlier than December 1st provided they are on a tripod stand and placed on the outer edge of the sidewalk, away from the building. Due to the leaching of the paints, dyes and glues as well as the added weight of saturated materials, no wreath shall be attached to the crypt front, the bronze bar or the vase ring. The Corporation shall not be responsible for damage by the elements, thieves, vandals, animals, or other causes beyond its control.
    4. Vases are provided by Jefferson Memorial Park and are available inside the Jefferson Mausoleum building and also in the administration building.

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14. Funeral Home, Is your Funeral Home only for Jefferson Cemetery clients?

No, Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home, serves all faiths and all cemeteries.

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15. Funeral Price Lists, Why does the FTC mandate them?

The Federal Trade Commission General Price List Format has been required to be used by all funeral homes in the United States since 1994. It affords the consumer the opportunity to compare prices easily since every funeral provider must present their pricing in the same way.

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16. Grave openings, why does it cost so much? Isn’t it just digging a hole?

The burial process is the most expensive individual operation of all a cemetery does. The physical digging of the grave is the most straight forward part. There are actually over 72 steps to making an interment. Starting with pulling your records, typing the maintenance opening order, entering the computer record, and laying out the precise location are only a few of the 72 separate functions. Backhoes and dump trucks are exceedingly expensive ($65,000 and $40,000 respectfully) as is the amount of manpower required. We spend a lot of “waiting” time being ready for the procession to arrive.

The effort involved in restoring the grave to its original appearance and repairing unavoidable damage caused to the surrounding turf area caused during an interment is extensive. If you come in two years later and report a grave has sunk, you expect us to repair it. This repair is a cost related to that original burial.

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17. Hours of the Cemetery Grounds, Office and Mausoleum

The cemetery gates shall be open from 8:00 A.M. to dusk or 8:30 P.M. May 1 to September 30, and from 8:00 A.M. to dusk or 5:30 P.M. October 1 to April 30. Any person found on the grounds after dark will be considered a trespasser and will be prosecuted.

The offices shall be open from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. on weekdays, 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Saturday.

Indoor Mausoleum Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. and 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. on Sunday; or as otherwise determined from time to time by the management.

The Mausoleum or office will not be open on the following holiday: New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas.

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18. Identification Viewing. What type of viewing is that?

Identification Viewing means a brief non-public viewing of the deceased by the next of kin or responsible party to identify the remains.

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19. Irrevocable Agreements. Why would I make my contract irrevocable?

By making your arrangements irrevocable the government currently allows you to exclude up to $6300 in prepaid burial / funeral contracts from your personal assets. Depending upon your remaining assets this may permit you to remain eligible for Medicare, Medicaid and Medical Assistance.

A few people make their arrangements irrevocable so that their surviving relatives, after their death, cannot change the type of services they have selected.

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20. Rules & Regulations. Why does a cemetery need them?

Our rules and regulations are designed for the protection of all plot owners and visitors at Jefferson. They are intended not as restraining, but rather as defining an orderly plan of operation, care and maintenance. As such, they govern most aspects of our future relationship. With this understanding in mind, the plot owner and their visitors are requested to respect the enforcement of these rules and regulations.

A copy of the Rules and Regulations is mailed to the plot owner at the time of purchase. If you would like an updated copy, please come to the cemetery administration building and ask for one.

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21. Selling Cemetery Property: I have 2 extra spaces. Can I sell them?

Yes, you can and to anyone you want. We have seen property sell very quickly in the newspaper, and we have seen it sell slowly. It depends on many things; however, location and price are generally the biggest issues. If you are trying to get very close to the cemetery’s selling price, they will probably move slowing (making it a good deal could move them faster). Remember that the cemetery would normally include in their selling price the processing cost, deed fee and endowment care fee. When you sell property, the processing, deeding and endowment care are in addition to your selling price and are due the cemetery the day of the transfer. Some cemeteries participate in the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association lot exchange plan. Using this plan you could transfer the dollar credit (not lot for lot) of what was originally paid to another participating cemetery to be used toward your purchase there. www.icfa.org/service_bureau.htm

Most people who have a hard time selling family cemetery property simply are asking too much. For example: if the cemetery is selling a similar 2 spaces for $1,000 and you decide to ask $800, there is not enough spread. After the purchaser pays $195-$246 in transfer, deed generation and endowment care (which could make your property MORE expensive than the cemetery’s), they might as well buy from the cemetery and select where they want. If you offer the same two spaces for $500 and have the buyer pay the fees, you might get more people’s attention. Depending on how long ago the lots were originally purchased, you might still come out ahead.

Click on the following links to refer to the transferring unused cemetery property, non-personalized merchandise, or services, and buying back property to review the procedures and policies regarding the transfer.

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22. Stained Glass Window—I saw a number of them in the Mausoleum. Can I buy one?

Some families want to dedicate a tribute in the ancient art of stained glass. We have 11 such works in Jefferson Cemetery. Click on the following links for more information on: Bronze Memorials, or Personal Memory Benches, and Special Memorilization.

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23. Transferring Unused Cemetery Property, Non-Personalized Merchandise or Services.

Generally, it is not difficult to transfer unused cemetery property, non-personalized merchandise or services. We recommend that you call us before beginning the transfer process so that we may walk you through the steps required (412-655-4500). See also, the buying back property and selling cemetery property sections.

Here are some general items that apply to all transfers:


  1. All transfers must be recorded on the books of the Corporation. In other words, you cannot just hand someone a deed and say they own it.
  2. The original deed and/or certificate of ownership must be presented before Jefferson can process a transfer.
  3. There is a fee for transferring the property that pays for the data entry and issuing the new deed.
  4. At the time of a transfer or sale, the cemetery will collect funds to be deposited into the Endowment Care Trust Fund based upon current statute or company policy.
  5. Property with existing interments cannot be transferred to a new owner. The deed must be split into two deeds; one for the new owners and one to the original owners, even if deceased. A split deed sometimes requires two deed transfer fees.

We most oftern encounter two different situations when transferring cemetery property:

  1. Transfer by Living Owner(s)
    If all living titled owners consent to the transfer, it is a simple matter. Gather your
    Deed and Certificate of Ownership and our staff will guide you through the transfer procedures.
  2. Transferring When Owners are Deceased
    Unused burial property or merchandise are considered undistributed items of the estate of the deceased. Jefferson must comply with the laws of Pennsylvania.

    Generally, if the estate of the lot owner to die was probated or administered, the Executor or Administrator can act for the estate and transfer the property regardless of how long ago the owners death occurred. A Short Certificate issued within the last 90 days must be provided in addition to the original Deed and/or Certificate of Ownership.

    If the estate of the last owner to die was not probated or administered all surviving members of the family must execute notarized Affidavits attesting to the facts of the family situation and the resolution they request. Generally, these Affidavits, along with the original Deed, will allow us to transfer the property.

    There are occasional situations that are legally complex that require you to engage a lawyer. If this should occur, we will so inform you.

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24. Westminster Mausoleum Crypt. What is it?

A Westminster Crypt Chamber means a space in a mausoleum constructed to hold from two (2) to four (4) casketed human remains, which may be owned by one or more families or individuals. It may also be referred to as a Family Westminster or Triad depending on its arrangement.

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Copyright © 2007 Jefferson Memorial, All Rights Reserved. All prices subject to change without notice.