One of the largest single expenses for traditional burial is the casket. Even if a person is cremated, a casket may be needed for a viewing or funeral service. And after the cremation is complete you’ll then need an urn.
The latest statistics from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) estimate that the median cost for a metal casket is $2,500. The median price for an urn is $295. And if you need to rent a casket that is going to be around $995.
If those numbers seem really high, you’re not alone. Many people are floored when they hear the average costs for caskets and urns. Unfortunately, families often pay more for a casket or urn than they need to simply because they aren’t aware of the options. This post is a quick guide the will explain some of the basics so you don’t overpay.
Legalities of Using Caskets and Urns
Let’s begin by clearing up some common misconceptions about buying caskets and urns as well as the regulations surrounding such purchases.
There’s No Requirement to Purchase or Rent a Casket or Urn From the Funeral Home
Did you know that you don’t have to buy or even rent a casket through the funeral home? Many people assume that’s how it’s done, but in actuality that’s only one option. There is no legal requirement to purchase or rent a casket from the funeral home.
Most of the time the funeral home will tack on a substantial markup. If you purchase or rent a casket directly from a third-party provider you could save hundreds or even thousands. Just be prepared to sign a form that states the funeral home isn’t responsible if the casket fails or isn’t accepted by a cemetery if the casket will be buried.
REMEMBER: If you use a casket from a source other than the funeral home, then the funeral home can’t charge a handling fee or additional expense for its use. Doing so is illegal.
You Don’t Legally Have to Cremate in a Casket
There’s no law requiring that a casket be used for the cremation. That’s a good thing if costs are a concern, because the median price for a cremation casket is $1,200. Of course, you can also use the casket for the viewing, but it’s a big expense when that’s almost the only purpose it would serve.
Some crematoriums do require a container of some sort for the cremation. However, that doesn’t mean you have to use a casket. Less expensive alternatives are simple wooden boxes, rigid cardboard and a canvas or cloth shroud.
Funeral Homes Must Provide Casket List With Prices
The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires that funeral homes provide clients with a list of all the caskets they sell along with the prices and descriptions. Before looking at caskets choose the ones on the list that are within a comfortable price range. If not, the funeral home could show you the priciest caskets on display playing the odds that you’ll buy one that’s more expensive.
Consider a Homemade Casket and Urn
If a friend or family member is a woodworker that wants to create a special casket for either a viewing or burial, that’s perfectly fine. There’s no rules stating that homemade caskets and urns can’t be used or buried. The one caveat is that the casket must be strong enough to hold the body and meet any requirements set by the cemetery.
Skip Casket Gaskets and Seals
Special gaskets and seals that are touted to help protect and preserve the body can add hundreds to the cost of a casket, and they are totally unnecessary. The body will eventually decompose no matter what casket is used, which is natural and expected.
Choose to Have a Memorial Service After the Cremation
Families that choose direct cremation are able to skirt the steep cost of a rental casket since there isn’t a service beforehand where the body is present. Instead you can choose to have a memorial honoring the life of the deceased after the cremation is complete. Keep in mind if you choose direct cremation the crematorium must provide a container when the body is cremated.
If you’d like more information on the direct cremation process our experts are the perfect resource. We can help you figure out what’s needed before and after the cremation so that you can honor your loved one without feeling pressured to pay for unnecessary services.