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Cost of Cremation

Choosing to be cremated, or to have the remains of a loved one cremated, is a very personal decision influenced by several factors. Religious tradition, personal comfort level with cremation itself and the cost of cremation services all factor into deciding whether or not to be cremated. Let’s examine just one of those factors – cremation costs – and what you can expect.

Costs That May Be Included in Cremation:

Rental Casket for Viewing: Even if you choose cremation, you may want to allow those close to the deceased to view the remains a final time. For that final viewing you will probably be required to rent a casket, at an average cost of $700. In addition, there will be a charge for use of the funeral home for the viewing. If cost is an issue, ask the funeral home what alternatives are available.

Cremation Fees: The average cost for the cremation itself is anywhere between $500 and $2000, depending on what’s customary in your region. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to contact several crematories or funeral homes, keeping in mind that you’ll be offered additional services that can increase the cost.

An alternative is direct cremation, in which the family of the deceased has the remains delivered directly to the crematory and pays for cremation only. Additional costs that should be expected if the crematory or funeral home arranges the entire cremation are fees to transport the remains to the crematory and fees to apply for the death certificate.

Container for Remains During Cremation: You should never be required to purchase an actual casket for cremation, but will be asked to purchase a combustible “cremation container” into which the remains will be placed during cremation. Expect to pay at least $200 for that container.

Container for Ashes After Cremation: Once cremation has taken place, most crematories or funeral homes place the “ashes” in some type of lined box. You can choose to purchase an ornamental urn, if you plan to keep the ashes rather than dispersing them in a special place. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to several hundred dollars for custom-made memorial urns.

By the way, certain public places like parks and golf courses may not allow scattering ashes there for public health reasons, so check ahead of time.

Headstone or Memorial:
Some people who choose cremation wish to have some sort of marker placed as a permanent memorial. This can take the form of a plaque on a wall within a memorial chapel, a vault containing the deceased’s ashes, or a traditional headstone placed at a gravesite within a cemetery. Depending on the setting, the memorial can cost a few hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars for an elaborate memorial and “gravesite.”

Funeral Service Expenses: If you choose to hold a funeral or memorial service for someone who is cremated, how that funeral is planned will impact the final costs. A traditional church or funeral home service requires payment for use of the facility, musicians’ fees, payment for funeral home staff, funeral programs, use of funeral vehicles if the family needs transportation, and whatever fees clergy are normally paid to officiate in your area. You can, of course, choose to hold a memorial in a different and ask friends and family to provide whatever elements of the service you choose to have.  For more information, see our article on funeral costs and funeral planning.

As cremation becomes increasingly common in the United States, your options for a dignified, yet affordable, cremation and memorial will also increase. With the above guidelines in hand, contact funeral homes and cremation services in your area to learn before those services are needed what to expect in terms of costs.



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