Funeral Homes and Cemeteries

Funeral Homes and Cemeteries are Separate Entities.


If you own a plot in a cemetery, you are not required to use a funeral home that may be associated with the cemetery.

Funeral Establishments, also known as Funeral Service Providers and Funeral Homes are licensed by the state to remove a deceased person from the place of death and assist the next-of-kin with funeral arrangements and final disposition of the body. Disposition is generally either burial or cremation. A cemetery is a place to inter bodies or cremated remains and is a separate business from a funeral establishment.

In Washington State, cemeteries are separately licensed by the state and must be corporate entities, either nonprofit or for profit. They may have common ownership with a funeral establishment.  When a funeral establishment is located adjacent to the cemetery and especially when they share the same name, it is difficult to know that the two may share the same owners, but by law they are separate entities.  People are not required to hold a funeral at the cemetery where the burial will occur, but many still believe they are obliged to do that.

Cemetery Rights

Cemetery corporations have broad authority to limit or permit markers, monuments, plants and shrubs.  They frequently charge setting fees for monuments to insure that such markers conform to their standards. By law they may “restrict and limit the use of all property within its cemetery, including interment rights.” (RCW 68.20.061)

If a family has purchased burial plots in a cemetery, they may use any funeral service provider they choose for all the services they need including transportation of the deceased to the cemetery.  Although cemeteries must accept a vault that the family purchases separately, they may charge inspection fees, ostensibly to discourage such separate purchases.  Municipal and church cemeteries generally do not charge inspection fees for vaults and markers.

An independent funeral director can help clients find alternatives to high priced for-profit cemeteries and help save on markers and vaults too.