Those considering the most economical solution for final disposition 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, and without a viewing, there is no need to further prep the body. If, however, the family would like a private viewing before cremation or an open-casket funeral service, these fees would still apply.
Burial Casket vs. Cremation Container
Like preparation cost, the price increases substantially when the family decides to include a private and/or public viewing. A casket is not needed for a cremation without viewing. Most crematories require a simple cremation container that starts at under $100. Burial caskets, on the other hand, start at around five times that amount and can vary dramatically in cost. A wood or metal casket starts around $500, and can go up to $14,000, depending on the materials used and its construction.
There are other fees associated only with the burial option. Families must buy a cemetery plot, pay a fee for transportation of the body to the cemetery, pay for grave opening and closing fees, and pay for a headstone. Families may also need to pay for perpetual care of the cemetery plot at a cost of $1,000 to more than $10,000, depending on region and elaborateness of arrangements.
After cremation is complete, the only additional required cost is that of a cremation container or urn to store the remains. This can cost as little as $50 for a scattering urn or up to several thousand dollars for an elaborate urn.
No matter how you compare the costs, cremation involves far fewer costs, and typically lower costs, than traditional burial.