Definition of Terms

Direct Cremation is the transfer of the deceased from the place of death to a funeral home, placement in a container and delivery to a crematory without formal viewing, visitation or ceremony.

Direct cremation is a practical and cost-effective method because it requires only minimal services by the funeral home. If a family wishes, they may have a memorial service wherever they would like without the involvement of a funeral home.  The services and merchandise included in our survey for a direct cremation are:

  • The basic service fee for the funeral director and staff, including overhead costs (also referred to as the non-declinable fee)
  • Transport of the deceased from the place of death
  • Appropriate care of the remains (usually refrigeration)
  • Securing necessary permits and authorization for the cremation
  • Provision of an alternative container to encase the body during cremation (“alternative container” refers to a heavy-duty cardboard [or cardboard/wood combination], or an unadorned cremation casket made of fiberboard)
  • Transportation of the body to the crematory
  • Crematory fee.  Note that some price lists do not include the crematory fee.  In those cases we added $300 (a typical fee) to the price listed in the GPL, and we indicated this in our survey results by putting an asterisk (*) next to the direct cremation price.
  • Return of the cremated remains in a secure container to the family directly or making the cremated remains available for pickup at the funeral home

Cremated remains are generally returned in a suitable container.  The families of decedents who weigh over set amounts (200, 250, 275 or 300 pounds) will usually be charged extra by the crematory for the additional fuel necessary to cremate the body.

Direct cremation prices in the survey do not include the cost of an urn (prices range from less than $50 to several thousand dollars at some funeral homes); an urn outer burial vault (these can cost up to $1000); any rite or ceremony, embalming, family’s use of funeral home facilities, cost of obituary, or other services by staff.  

Immediate Burial is the transfer of the deceased from the place of death to a funeral home, and placement in a casket and transportation to the cemetery or other burial site without formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony. The cost shown on our list does not include the cost of a casket.  Instead, we have listed the range of casket prices offered by the funeral home separately because consumers are not obligated to purchase a casket from the funeral home and may choose to select a casket from a vendor of their choice.

Immediate burial is a practical and cost-effective method if burial is desired because it requires only minimal services by the funeral home. If a family wishes, they may have a memorial service wherever they would like without the involvement of a funeral home.

The services and merchandise included in our survey for an immediate burial are:

  • The basic service fee for the funeral director and staff, including overhead costs (also referred to as the non-declinable fee)
  • Transport of the deceased from the place of death
  • Appropriate care of the remains (usually refrigeration)
  • Transportation of the body to the cemetery

Immediate burial prices do not include any rite or ceremony, embalming, family’s use of the funeral home, facilities, cost of obituary, or other services of staff.

To determine the total cost for a burial, families need to include the cost of the burial space/plot, the charge to open and close the grave, an outer burial container (vault), which is not required by law but is almost always required by cemeteries, and a grave marker.  Prices vary greatly on these items, depending on the location of the gravesite and the materials used for the vault and the marker.  The charges for these additional costs must be added to the cost of the funeral to get a true understanding of the total cost of an immediate burial. 

Full Funeral Service is a hypothetical funeral that includes 9 select services.  The cost of a full funeral service that is shown on our list does not include the cost of a casket.  Instead, we have listed the range of casket prices offered by the funeral home separately because consumers are not obligated to purchase a casket from the funeral home and may choose to select a casket from a vendor of their choice.

The hypothetical full funeral service includes the following:

  • The basic service fee for the funeral director and staff, including overhead costs (also referred to as the non-declinable fee)
  • Transport of the deceased from the place of death
  • Embalming
  • Other preparation of the body, such as dressing, casketing, cosmetology
  • Use of facilities and staff for viewing
  • Use of facilities and staff for chapel service at funeral home
  • Accompaniment of casketed remains to a local cemetery and supervision of graveside ceremony
  • Hearse to transport the body to the cemetery
  • Limousine/family car for the funeral procession

The hypothetical full funeral service does not include a casket, a grave space or plot, opening and closing a grave, an outer burial container (vault), which is not required by law but is almost always required by cemeteries, an obituary, flowers, services of clergy, organist, vocalist, or other musicians, a police escort, or any other service or product not described above.  The charges for these additional costs must be added to the cost of the funeral to get a true understanding of the total cost of a full funeral service and burial. 

Extra costs may be incurred at some funeral homes for making arrangements for a service at a location other than the funeral home, for picking up a body beyond certain distances from some funeral homes, and for processing insurance policies. 

Casket Prices

The casket prices listed on the survey show the range of prices for caskets offered by the funeral home.  The cost of the casket was not included in the price of the burial services because consumers are not obligated to purchase a casket from the funeral home and may choose to select a casket from a vendor of their choice.

Vault Prices

The outer burial container (vault) prices listed on the survey show the range of prices for vaults offered by the funeral home.  The cost of the vault was not included in the price of the burial services because some cemeteries do not require them, and also consumers are not obligated to purchase a vault from the funeral home and may choose to select a vault from a vendor of their choice.

Urn Prices

The urn prices listed on the survey show the range of prices for cremation urns offered by the funeral home.  The cost of an urn was not included in the price for direct cremation because an urn is not required and consumers are not obligated to purchase an urn from the funeral home and may choose to select an urn from a vendor of their choice.

Other Prices Surveyed

  • Receiving Remains from another funeral home.  This charge includes basic services of staff (excluding visitation and funeral ceremony), local transportation to the funeral home, and hearse to the cemetery or crematory.
  • Forwarding Remains to another funeral home.  This charge includes local transport of the deceased to the funeral home, basic services of staff, necessary authorizations, embalming, and local transportation to another funeral home or shipping depot.  Shipping charges and visitation are not included.
  • Sanitary Care.  When there is no embalming, this charge includes washing and disinfection of the body and placing it in a casket.

 

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