Developed in 1998 by the Government and Legal Affairs Task Force of the International Cemetery and Funeral Association


The dedication of a new cemetery creates a permanent addition to the community. The extent of the design and planning, financing and long-term maintenance arrangements by those who own or control a cemetery, identified herein as the “cemetery authority,” will determine whether the cemetery is ultimately an asset or detriment to the community. Regardless of whether a particular cemetery is operated as for profit or nonprofit, religious or non-sectarian, municipal or fraternal, each cemetery must literally be prepared to service what it sells forever.

The cemetery authority should meet minimum capitalization requirements and establish an endowment care trust fund to provide financial stability for the newly-created cemetery.


  1. The person intending to conduct business as a cemetery authority and establish a new cemetery should make application to the regulatory authority that has jurisdiction over cemeteries. The application process should include the following:
    • Legal documents pertaining to the property and creation of the legal entity to conduct the business of a cemetery;
    • Proof of deposits showing that the initial requirements for capitalization and the endowment care trust fund have been satisfied; and
    • Documentation to demonstrate the ability to establish a new cemetery, financial stability, and prior business experience.
  2. The site selected for the cemetery should be free and clear of financial encumbrances, conform with local zoning ordinances, and be formally dedicated for cemetery purposes. Interments should be restricted exclusively to human remains. A legal description of the property, including a map or plat of the site, subdivided into gardens or sections, should be filed with the appropriate entity.
  3. Prior to commencing sales, the cemetery authority should be required to develop an area suitable for interment of human remains. The cemetery authority also should have made improvements to the property, that include an on-site office to conduct business and a road permitting access to the office and to all property for which the immediate sale of interment spaces is proposed.
  4. A cemetery authority engaging in the sale of predeveloped interment spaces should have specified time periods from the date of the first sale for commencing and completing construction.
  5. The initial amount contributed to the endowment care trust fund may be offset by withholding subsequent deposits from the sale of interment spaces until the initial deposit amount is recovered.
  6. Permission to establish a new cemetery could be withheld by the regulatory authority if any director, officer, or manager affiliated with the cemetery authority has been convicted previously of fraudulent activities.
  7. When the requisite documentation is provided to the regulatory authority, the regulatory authority should not unreasonably withhold permission for the establishment of a new cemetery.
  8. The permission granted for establishing a new cemetery shall expire if basic operation of the cemetery does not begin within a specified time period.
  9. Permission to establish a cemetery should not be transferable or assignable. A cemetery authority may only develop or operate the new cemetery at the location which is authorized under the application to the regulatory authority.