Those considering the most economical solution for the disposition of remains should compare cremation costs to burial costs.
The first cost difference between cremation and burial comes with preparation of the body. To prepare a body for burial, funeral directors must disinfect and embalm it. For those that intend to have an open casket for the burial, stylists must prepare the body for viewing, including application of specialized techniques and cosmetics. Housing the body, collecting burial certificates, and preparing the deceased for burial averages around $1,600.
Those that choose cremation without a viewing can avoid these fees entirely. There is no need to embalm remains prior to cremation, nor must the body be prepared for viewing, unless there is an open casket funeral.
Burial caskets vary dramatically in cost. A wood or metal casket starts around $500, and can go up to $14,000, depending on the materials and construction. A casket is not needed for cremation. Most crematories require a simple cremation container that starts at under $100.
Burial is associated with additional costs. Families must buy a plot; transport the body to the cemetery; have the grave opened; have the remains placed inside; close the grave; and pay for a headstone. Families may also need to pay for perpetual care at a cost from $1,000 to more than $10,000, depending on region and the elaborateness of arrangements.
After cremation is complete, the only standard cost is the cost of a cremation container to store the remains. This can cost as little as $50 for a scattering urn, up to several thousand dollars for an elaborate urn, a niche for the urn at a local cemetery, and a memorial.
No matter how you compare the costs, cremations involves far fewer costs, and typically lower costs, than traditional burial.