How Much Does It Cost to Bury Cremation Ashes?

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A lot has been written in recent years about the high prices of end-of-life services. However, you may have heard that cremation is less expensive than burial, causing you to prefer this method of disposition. 

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We would like to help you as you consider the costs of cremation. Are you pre-planning your own services and wish to itemize the costs so you know how much money to set aside for end-of-life expenses? Or perhaps you recently lost a loved one and want to learn about permanent resting place options for the ashes. 

Here's what you need to know about the costs associated with burying cremation ashes. 

What Is Included in the Cost to Bury Cremation Ashes?

Before discussing the costs of burying cremation ashes, let's discuss what leads to the burial.

Traditional funeral or direct cremation?

Once you have chosen cremation as the preferred method of disposition, you'll need to think about the service options. 

For example, if you wish to have a traditional funeral for the deceased, including an open-casket viewing, you might need to pay for the following:

  • Embalming
  • Rental casket
  • Preparing the body for viewing
  • Clothing for the deceased
  • Transportation of the body to the service location (and then to the crematory)
  • Storage fees
  • Cremation fees
  • Cremation casket
  • Urn (optional)

Instead, many of these charges may not apply if you choose direct cremation. In direct cremation, the family says their final goodbyes to their loved one at the place of death. Then the body is transported directly to the crematorium. Costs include the following:

  • Transportation of the body from the site of death to the crematory
  • Cremation casket
  • Cremation fees
  • Urn (optional)

The family receives the cremated remains, which can be kept, buried, entombed, or scattered.

Burial or entombment?

Some families keep the cremated remains of their loved ones in an urn on a mantle or a coat closet shelf. Others may desire a permanent resting place for their loved one's remains. 

It is worth noting that according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the cremated remains should be either buried in a Catholic cemetery or entombed in a Catholic columbarium niche. But, of course, non-Catholics may also prefer burial over scattering. 

If you choose to have the remains buried in a cemetery plot, here are some of the expenses to consider:

If you choose to have the cremated remains entombed in a mausoleum or columbaria, you will have the following costs to consider:

  • Cost of the niche
  • Opening and closing of the space
  • Plaque engraving costs
  • Urn

Burial outside a cemetery

If the family is not restricted on the burial location because of religious beliefs, they may choose to bury the cremated remains outside of a traditional cemetery.

Let's take a quick moment to discuss the pros and cons of this decision.

  • Burial outside a cemetery is probably the least expensive option, as you won't have to pay for the opening and closing of the grave or vault. 
  • Some families wish to keep their loved one's remains close by – perhaps burying the cremated remains in a treasured garden or beautiful overlook.
  • When you bury cremated remains on private property, you can choose the style of memorial to mark the spot instead of being restricted by the cemetery rules. On the other hand, you can choose to keep the burial site unmarked. 
  • Some families obtain special permission to bury their loved one's cremated remains on public land or other property owners. This type of burial is often coordinated with the planting of a tree or hardy bush. 

However, there are drawbacks to burying remains outside of a traditional cemetery.

  • If the remains were buried on the family's private land, the sale of the property would limit your ability to visit your loved one's burial spot. 
  • A traditional cemetery is open to the public. However, if you bury your loved one's remains on private land, you will limit the opportunity of others who may wish to visit your loved one's grave.
  • A burial without a headstone will limit future generations from visiting an ancestor's grave. In fact, the burial location may be lost forever.
  • Burial outside a Catholic cemetery is not an option for people of this faith group.

We have given you a lot to think about as you decide the final resting place for your loved one's ashes. Now, let's take a deep dive into types of burial urns and their costs.

How Much Does a Burial Urn Cost for Cremation Ashes?

Many cremation providers return the deceased's cremated remains in what is described as a "sturdy cardboard box." However, some cremation providers may allow you to choose an urn and will place the remains inside (and seal the urn) before returning it to the family.

However, before you buy an urn, it would be wise to have selected the permanent resting place for your loved one's remains. Here are the reasons for picking the burial location before purchasing an urn.

Burial urns are specific types of urns made of sturdy material, such as marble or metal. Some cemeteries require a burial urn to be used if placing the cremated remains in a cemetery plot. This keeps the urn from collapsing and the ground caving in at the burial site. Burial urns range in price from $60 to $500. 

Other cemeteries may require that the urn be placed in an urn vault at the time of burial. The urn vault is a solid box placed around the urn (or directly around the remains) to keep the ground from collapsing under the pressure of the soil. They vary based on the composition material, size, and design. 

Some urn vaults are made from high-strength concrete and reinforced with a bronze, copper, stainless steel, or high-impact plastic lining. Others are made with durable polymer plastic. Regardless of the material used, the lids are usually sealed with adhesive.

An urn vault costs between $100 and $400. If you choose to place an urn inside the urn vault, make sure you know the dimensions of the vault. 

On the other hand, if you choose to bury the cremated remains on private land or out in nature (with permission), you may not be as concerned about the urn collapsing over time – especially if the burial occurs in an out-of-the-way place. In that case, you can select any type of urn, which typically ranges in price from $60 to several hundred dollars.

Finally, some families wish to bury the cremated remains in a biodegradable urn. There are many different types of these specialty urns. Some are designed to accompany the planting of a tree or hardy plant. Others are beautiful creations that will eventually become part of the earth. Biodegradable urns may range from $50 to $200.

Where Could You Bury Cremation Ashes?

Let us, again, sum up where you could bury cremation ashes. Before we discuss the options, it is worth noting that the laws regarding the burial of cremation ashes differ from state to state. However, cremation ash burial is much less restricted than the burial of bodies. Regardless, make sure you ask for permission if you plan to bury ashes in property not owned by your family. 

Cemetery

If your mom wanted a traditional funeral with burial, but your dad wanted to be cremated, they can still rest together for eternity by being buried in adjoining cemetery plots. In fact, some cemeteries will allow you to save on the costs of opening and closing the grave by placing the cremated remains into the grave simultaneously as the casket. However, other cemeteries will charge an additional fee for this service.

If both spouses or several family members wish to be cremated and buried, some cemeteries will allow for multiple cremated remains to be interred in a single plot. Of course, talk with the cemetery staff to see if this is an option.

The cost of cemetery plots for cremated remains ranges significantly in the U.S. – depending on the cemetery's location. 

Green cemetery

Green cemeteries are also popping up all over the country. This may be another option for those who prefer a more ecological burial – such as placing the remains directly in the soil or a biodegradable container. 

Private land

As we mentioned, there are pros and cons to burying cremated remains on private land. Consult the local laws to make sure it is allowed in your area and to receive guidance on how deep to bury the urn

Public land

Make sure you obtain permission before burying cremated remains on public land. 

You Have a Lot of Decisions Ahead of You

You have many options to consider when you choose to be cremated and buried. If you are making your own end-of-life plan, make sure you record your decisions with Cake and share your plan with your next of kin. That way, you will rest easy in your golden years, knowing that your cremated remains will be placed in the location of your choice.

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