Perpetual Care Cemeteries



According to Iowa law, a “Perpetual Care Cemetery” is a cemetery which has established an irrevocable trust fund for the maintenance, repair, and care of all interment spaces, features, buildings, roadways, parking lots, water supply, and other existing cemetery structures.  All new cemeteries that were organized or that commenced business in Iowa on or after July 1, 1995, must operate as a perpetual care cemetery.  Cemeteries that were organized before that date may or may not be perpetual care cemeteries.

Perpetual Care and Maintenance Guarantee Fund

Iowa law requires many cemeteries to maintain an irrevocable trust fund for the perpetual care and maintenance of the cemetery.  Normally, 20% of the proceeds of the sale of a grave space must be placed in trust.  A grave space includes a child’s space, a mausoleum crypt, or a columbarium niche.  Only the interest earned by the trust fund can be used for the care and maintenance of the cemetery.  The trust principal can never be spent.

A separate perpetual care fund may be established for each grave marker, tombstone, monument, or item of ornamental merchandise.

Registry Required

A perpetual care cemetery must maintain a registry of individuals who have purchased items subject to the perpetual care requirements of Iowa law, including the amount deposited in trust for each individual.  The registry shall include all transactions made on or after July 1, 1995.



How can I find out if a cemetery is a Perpetual Care Cemetery?

  • Look for a sign.
  • The name of the cemetery may tell you.
  • It should say on the contracts/deeds.
  • Ask to see a copy of the cemetery’s by-laws, which should tell you.

What items are cared for by a Perpetual Care Cemetery?

  • Just the grounds and buildings, unless specified otherwise.

Can a religious cemetery be a Perpetual Care Cemetery?

  • Yes.

If the Perpetual Care Cemetery is not being cared for, who should I contact for help?

  • Contact the cemetery office or the Iowa Securities Bureau.



Our agency is responsible for enforcing the Perpetual Care Cemetery law and investigating consumer complaints.  If you wish, you may submit a complaint form.