Cemetery Lots, Burial Plots, Mausoleums, and Niches: Investing in Your Future, Part 5

/ October 27, 2017

Definition of Terms

“Alkaline hydrolysis” (coined “wet cremation”) means the reduction of a dead human body to essential elements through a water-based dissolution process using alkaline chemicals, heat, agitation, and pressure to accelerate natural decomposition; the processing of the hydrolyzed remains after removal from the alkaline hydrolysis vessel; placement of the processed remains in a hydrolyzed remains container; and release of the hydrolyzed remains to an appropriate party. Alkaline hydrolysis is a form of final disposition. Stat. § 149A.02, Subd. 1a.

“Burial site goods” means any goods sold or offered for sale or rental directly to the public for use in connection with the final disposition of a dead human body. Minn. Stat. § 149A.02, Subd. 3a.

“Cemetery lot” or “burial plot” is a small piece of land in a cemetery used for the interment human remains. A crypt or group of crypts or burial vaults owned by one person in a public or community mausoleum is deemed a cemetery lot. See Minn. Stat. § 525.14.

“Columbarium” means a structure of vaults lined with recesses for cremated cremains/urns.

“Cremated remains”, “ashes”, or “cremains” means the post-cremation remains of a dead human body. Minn. Stat. § 149A.02, Subd. 7.

“Crypt” means a space in a mausoleum of sufficient size, used or intended to be used to entomb human remains, cremated remains, or hydrolyzed remains. Minn. Stat. § 149A.02, Subd. 12a.

“Embalming” means the process of disinfecting and preserving a dead human body by chemically treating the body to reduce the presence and growth of organisms, to retard organic decomposition, and to restore an acceptable physical appearance. Minn. Stat. § 149A.02, Subd. 15.

“Green Funeral” or “Green Burial” generally refers to any end-of-life ritual that is as harmless as possible for the environment in order to reduce its environmental impact. A green burial may take place in a conventional modern cemetery, or in a green cemetery or natural burial ground that uses eco-friendly methods. In a green burial, no embalming is performed, and graves are dug by hand and concrete vaults or grave liners are not used.

“Hydrolyzed remains” means the remains of a dead human body following the alkaline hydrolysis process. Hydrolyzed remains does not include pacemakers, prostheses, or similar foreign materials. Minn. Stat. § 149A.02, Subd. 24a.

“Interment” means depositing (a dead body) in the earth or in a tomb.

“Inurnment” means placing hydrolyzed or cremated remains in a hydrolyzed or cremated remains container suitable for placement, burial, or shipment. Minn. Stat. § 149A.02, Subd. 26a.

“Mausoleum” means, typically, a stone building with places for entombment of the dead above ground.

“Niche” means a space in a columbarium used or intended to be used for the placement of hydrolyzed or cremated remains. Minn. Stat. § 149A.02, Subd. 30a.

“Perpetual care fund” or “endowment care fund” means a fund set aside to ensure the long-term ability of a cemetery to perform its duties, including property maintenance. All Minnesota cemeteries must invest a portion of the purchase price of graves in an endowment or perpetual care fund. Income from the fund is used to provide regular care and maintenance at the cemetery. Maintenance includes: cutting grass, planting and caring for trees, roads, drainage, maintenance of water supply systems, etc.

“Urn” is a container which serves as a receptacle for cremated remains.

“Vault” means a space in a mausoleum of sufficient size, used or intended to be used to entomb human remains, cremated remains, or hydrolyzed remains. Vault or “grave liner” may also mean a sealed and/or lined casket enclosure. Minn. Stat. § 149A.02, Subd. 41. 

See also Minn. Stat. § 149A.02 for other funeral related definitions.

Applicable Statutes and Laws

Right to Control Disposition (of human remains): Minn. Stat. § 149A.80.

Insurance (Funeral) Pre-planning: Minn. Stat. § 149A.97

Government (County) Funded Burial, Cremation and Funerals: Minnesota Statute 261.035

Public Cemetery: Minnesota Statutes Chapter 306

Private Cemetery: Minnesota Statutes Chapter 307

Descent of Cemetery Lot: Minnesota Statute 525.14


Funeral Consumers Alliance of Minnesota (FCA)

Minnesota Funeral Directors Association (MFDA)

Minnesota Association of Cemeteries, Pre-planning information:

Minnesota Department of Health “Choices” booklet

Minnesota Revisor, Burial Vaults

Veterans Administration website regarding V.A. burial benefits

Whole Body Donation at the Mayo Clinic

Whole Body Donation at the University of Minnesota Medical School