How Do You Balance Cremation Costs and Services?

More and more families are choosing cremation today in large part because of the low cost of cremation versus traditional burial. As people become more cost-conscious about end-of-life services, nearly 40% of Americans today choose cremation over more expensive burial options. Since cost is one of the driving factors of choosing cremation, though, families face a balancing act between searching for low-cost cremation providers and selecting a cremation provider that offers the services they want. How do cremation costs relate to services?

Lower Cremation Costs = Fewer Services

In general, the low-cost cremation providers are able to offer inexpensive cremation prices because the prices they quote are for cremation only, or may include some services, but not everything that a family needs. For example, even a basic Illinois cremation comes along with:

  • Transportation to the cremation facility
  • A cremation container
  • Cremation permit
  • Staff or funeral director fees

Many of the so-called “low-cost” cremation providers quote cremation prices that don’t include even these basic fees. For many of the lowest cremation prices, the rate that families see is only for the cremation fee – not counting all other costs associated with arranging even a simple cremation.

When families want to add things like an obituary, a visitation with the deceased prior to cremation, or even a funeral, the cremation costs climb. When families are comparing cremation costs, it’s not necessarily that one cremation provider is inexpensive while another costs more, but it may be that there’s a disparity in services that accounts for the difference in cost.

Evaluating Cremation Costs: Which Services are Right for You?

As a general rule, local cremation costs are far more affordable than the costs associated with a funeral and traditional burial. However, families exercise even more fine-grained control over cremation costs by selecting the services that are right for them. When selecting cremation services, these are the things to consider:

Do You Want a Visitation, Funeral, or Memorial Service?

A direct cremation with no other service is the most affordable cremation option. For families with budget issues – particularly in the case of an unexpected immediate need cremation – direct cremation is the best option.

However, some families want additional services to provide closure and say goodbye to the loved one. Funerals, memorial services, and visitations add cost to cremation planning, but provide a venue for friends and families to say their farewells and commemorate the life of the deceased.

Choosing cremation does not preclude these services, but planning these services does add cost on top of the basic cremation fee. In addition, these services may also incur related costs, such as:

  • Renting a coffin
  • Paying a facility fee
  • Paying for staff support
  • Transportation
  • Other related costs

Do You Need Help with Cremation-Related and End-of-Life Details?

Some families prefer to manage cremation-related and end-of-life details on their own, while others would prefer help with things like:

  • Getting certified copies of the death certificate
  • Writing and publishing the obituary
  • Filing for Veterans benefits
  • Notifying Social Security

and other end-of-life details. Families keep costs down by managing these details themselves, but for some families, it’s worth the cost to have someone else help take care of these particulars. Help with these services does add to the base cremation cost, but the cost is worthwhile for the peace of mind it provides some families.

What Do You Plan to Do with the Remains?

What you plan to do with the remains plays a significant role in cremation costs. Aside from the cremation fee itself, one of the most significant cremation costs is the cost associated with the urn. If you’re planning to scatter the remains, a simple and inexpensive scattering urn is a practical, low-cost option. However, if you’re planning to display the urn at home, inter the urn in a columbarium, or even create a garden memorial, you’ll need a higher-quality urn that is suited for the setting, raising the cost.

Ultimately, your family controls local cremation costs by selecting the services that matter most. Balance needs and desires with budget to create the cremation plan that best serves your family’s needs.