For many, choosing cremation instead of burial is a matter of preference. They simply prefer not to be buried. Others know very little about cremation but are honoring the wishes of their loved one to be cremated. The one thing that most in these two groups have in common is that they don’t really know how much cremation costs.
Cremation costs vary depending upon several factors. Cremations costs can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the type of services and products selected. Cost also may differ between a funeral home and that of a cremation only provider in the same town.
Factors Impacting Cremation Costs
It is proper and acceptable to shop and compare pricing on burial and cremation costs. When comparing cremation costs, be sure to compare apples to apples. There are terms used in the funeral profession, such as direct cremation, cremation services with the body present, etc., that affect the price. Let’s discuss some of the options to help you better understand why and how cremation costs can vary.
This is when there is a cremation without any type of service performed by the cremation provider other than the cremation process. This cost usually includes the removal of the body to the place of cremation, legal documentation and the cremation fee and possibly a temporary urn of plastic or cardboard. Direct cremation is often the least expensive option available.
Cremation with a Memorial Service
This service can have several options available:
- A memorial service where the body of the deceased is present and cremation takes place afterward. This type of service usually takes place within days after death has occurred and the body may need to be embalmed. Because this choice may include embalming of the body, it can be the most expensive option.
- A memorial service where the cremated remains are present. This type of service can take place at any time after the cremation.
- A memorial service before or after cremation and the body or cremated remains are not present. This type of service can also take place at any time.
Funeral with Cremation
This service typically is the more expensive option and is very similar to a more traditional funeral. There is usually a public visitation with the body present. The committal service is performed at the funeral service site and instead of the body being taken to the cemetery it is taken to the crematory.
Many funeral homes still use a third party crematory, meaning the funeral home does not actually perform the cremation. This could have an impact on cremation costs. When a third party cremation provider is used, the funeral home will need to include the fees. Funeral homes are starting to install their own crematories to better manage their costs.
Request a Copy of Cremation Costs
It is a U.S. federal law that all funeral and cremation providers that work directly with the public have to give you a copy of their consumer’s costs when asked or if you visit their facility. It is called a General Price List. If you live outside the U.S., we recommend checking to see if a similar law exists and requesting a copy of the consumer’s costs.
We also highly recommend a visit to and tour of the cremation facility. Make sure it’s clean and organized. Ask about the tracking system used by the funeral home or cremation provider to make sure the bodies don’t get mixed up. A tracking system is a way to identify a body at the place of death and during each step from that point to the cremated ashes being returned to the family.