Frequently Asked Questions
Is preplanning a good idea?
YES - At Forest Hills we think it is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family for two main reasons: (1) Preplanning gets your wishes disclosed and on-file and no one has to make those decisions at the time of death and wonder “did I do the right thing for them”? (2) It freezes the costs of everything you invest in. Regardless of how many years it is before it is needed, your pre-planning is inflation proof. The average Consumer Price Index is 3% (inflation) and national averages predict funeral expenses to double every 8-10 years. Banks are currently only paying about 0.60% – 1.1% interest. So, preplanning is a better return on investment than putting your money in the bank at current interest rates.
When I buy a grave or a mausoleum, do I (the customer) own the land?
NO – this is one of the most common myths we encounter. Forest Hills, as well as, all other Perpetual Care, Municipal, and Church cemeteries do not sell you the actual land when you purchase in a cemetery. You are only acquiring the interment rights – the right to be buried in the cemetery (Forest Hills land) and that is what your Deed and Contract disclose. Forest Hills – and other cemeteries – retain the legal ownership of the land…it is not yours. Forest Hills pays all real estate taxes. This legal concept gives cemeteries the right to ingress and egress (come and go) over all of the land we own to mow, weed eat, set markers, walk, pick up trash, repair sunken graves, open and close graves, etc. If cemeteries actually sold the land off in tiny plots/parcels, then cemetery plot owners could block people and the cemetery from trespassing on “their” land.
Why do I have to comply with flower and decoration policies defined by Forest Hills?
First, this is the most sensitive and emotional matter that we deal with and it seems that there is never a perfect solution. Just like you, our family is buried here at Forest Hills too. Consistency in application of these policies and trying to allow some individual expression is paramount. However, what might seem appropriate or safe or pretty to one person might be unsafe, tacky or offensive to another. We are all different with varying ethnic, cultural, religious, secular, and traditions with unique tastes. Thus, it is impossible to be accommodating to all and still maintain a practical, safe, and efficient flower and decoration policy.
As mentioned above, you do not own the land or real estate and as a result, that unfortunately means that families cannot do anything they wish when decorating. So, where does it say this? Your Deed and Contract state that as a purchaser you are at all times subject to the by-laws, rules and regulations now existing, or which shall hereafter be adopted or amended. Flower and decoration policies exist to help maintain the beauty of the cemetery because people have different ideas about what is proper and suitable. They exist for safety reasons for mowing for our staff and visitors. Finally, they exist to help maintain efficiency in mowing over 40 acres and growing.
Why do these decoration policies change overtime?
Just like everything throughout history, things change. From amendments to the U.S. Constitution to amendments to Forest Hills policies to technological advancements… life is changing. Culture, people, inventions, traditions, technology, and religious preferences all change. As such, our flower and decoration policy must change to keep up with the times – it cannot be a policy set in stone. In the 1960s-1970s, there were no shepherds hooks or solar lights for landscaping which could also be used in cemeteries. Sometimes it takes one family to find or try something new with a decoration for Forest Hills to either approve or disallow it. Our current flower and decoration policy started on July 1, 2010.
See our DECORATION POLICY FOR MORE INFORMATION AND A PERSONAL LETTER FROM THE OWNERS OF THE CEMETERY ABOUT FLOWERS AND DECORATIONS.
Do I have to be embalmed?
Embalming is a choice and something to be discussed with your funeral director. There are no laws that require embalming and the FTC requires funeral homes disclose this to you. However, there may be some practical and safety reasons for embalming based on the cause of death or, having an open casket visitation with a person with a contagious disease. Again this matter is between you and the funeral director.
However, Forest Hills does require embalming for ALL mausoleum entombments but it is optional for ground burial. The reason is for the safety and potential environmental unpleasantness of placing an un-embalmed body in an above-ground mausoleum crypt.