9 Ways To Shop Smart for Direct Cremation
More families are turning to cremation than ever before, due in part to the growing expense of traditional burial and funerals. In 20 years, 80 percent of Americans will choose cremation, experts say. Oregon and Washington are already growing close to that level, statistics show.
With only 40 percent of Americans able to find $1,000 for emergency expenses, it is no surprise that lots of families want to find a less expensive alternative to traditional funeral arrangements. It’s never too early to begin the after-life planning for a loved one.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a funeral with a burial and viewing was $7,640 in 2019, up from $7,181 in 2014. The NFDA says that the average cost does not take into account additional fees for cemetery, monument or marker costs, flowers or an obituary.
Cremation is a simple, cheaper alternative. The national median cost for a direct cremation, which would include a basic cremation container, is $2,495, according to the NFDA. Solace provides low-cost cremation for a flat price of $995.
Direct Cremation is a less expensive approach (where the cremation takes place before a memorial or celebration of life in the days following a passing), but prices can vary depending on what funeral home a family chooses.
Make sure you know the complete cost and what will be provided for that amount as you conduct your research.
But there are many ways a family can save money on cremation.
1. Know your rights. The FTC funeral rule gives you the right to:
- Buy only the funeral arrangements you want.
- Get prices on the telephone.
- Get a written, itemized price list when you visit a funeral home.
- Make arrangements without embalming.
- Use an alternative container instead of purchasing a cremation casket.
2. Determine your wishes. Do you want a traditional funeral or an alternative gathering? Would you like to choose the music, the food or flowers? Our End-of-Life Planning Guide can help you get started.
3. Research your options. Websites like Consumer Reports and AARP are great places to start. Nonprofit websites like the Funeral Consumers Alliance also offer tips on how to save money and instructions on how to read a pricelist. The New York Times’ offers a good Q & A: What to Know When Choosing Cremation.
4. Shop around. When searching for low-cost cremation services, remember that funeral homes are required to provide price lists when asked in person or by phone under a rule established in 1984 (and online in California).
5. Talk with your loved ones. Groups and events like Death Over Dinner and Death Cafes let you practice difficult conversations. Other sites like Next Avenue offer some tips on talking to loved ones. The Conversation Project is another resource dedicated to the idea of getting people to talk about their end-of-life wishes.
6. Set aside funds today. Setting up a “payable upon death” account with your bank is one of the easiest ways you can set money aside for your after-life arrangements. They are also called a “Totten trust.”
7. Know what’s included. Whether you choose a “package deal” or go “ala carte,” it is important to know what’s included and what’s extra (Solace offers inclusive pricing with one flat cost). Compare “apples to apples” and look for price transparency, because hidden prices can often mean higher ones, studies show. Some seemingly low-cost cremation services in Oregon and Washington offer low starter prices, but then add on additional hidden fees.
8. Create your own Celebration of Life. You can skip the traditional funeral home and plan to have your loved ones gather in a favorite forest, park or at the beach. The after-life planning process is similar to a wedding or other large party. You can decide whether religion is an important part of your gathering … or not.
9. Skip traditional newspaper obituaries. Consider alternative websites or use a social media account and encourage friends and family to share photos and stories there.
Whatever company or service you choose, never feel embarrassed about being a savvy consumer. Not only is it your legal right to shop around for low-cost cremation options, it is a gift in service to your family to make sure you know what you are getting and how much you are paying for it.
Photo by Nick Beswick