Direct Cremation Guide: How It Works & What Should You Pay?
Article HighlightsWhat Is Direct Cremation? Funeral Assistance Direct Cremation Service Direct Cremation Costs Free Cremation How to Arrange a Direct Cremation Consumer Rights The Right Choice?
If you’re curious about direct cremation, chances are you’re a little concerned about rising funeral costs.
Or maybe you don’t see the point in spending so much money on a funeral.
And while cremation costs are cheaper than burial costs, chances are the funeral director is going to try and lift your budget as high as possible.
One easy way to stop this is by choosing a direct cremation plan.
In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about the process, what’s included, costs, your rights, and much more.
What Is Direct Cremation?
This option is for families who want something modest and are on a budget.
Depending on where you’re located it can also be called a “simple cremation”, “low cost cremation” or a “direct disposal funeral”.
No Memorial Service
In simple terms it is a no-service cremation.
Although a funeral home usually arranges the cremation procedure, there is no viewing, funeral, or memorial service before.
With costs rising, many of our readers struggle with covering funeral expenses. We think it’s important to give advice about fundraising options.
Need Some Financial Assistance?
We understand that paying for a funeral can be very expensive, leaving you in debt.
But did you know that can you can use funeral crowdfunding? This is a new and innovative way in which you can cover your loved one’s funeral expenses.
How it works
Crowdfunding allows you to set up a campaign for your loved one’s funeral expenses. Once published and shared via social media, family, friends, and even strangers can make small donations towards your funeral budget goal.
It’s an amazing tool which really helps vulnerable people in need. More importantly it works incredibly well- showing that people are incredibly generous and kind hearted.
Direct Cremation Service
It’s a modest option so what is included is very limited:
- The funeral home will pick up the body from the place of death. They will then be delivered to the crematorium.
- After the cremation, you can collect the remains or request they send the ashes somewhere.
- The facility will take care of all the essential paperwork such as permits and death certificates.
Direct Vs Normal Cremation: What You Don’t Get
The expensive elements of a regular cremation are excluded with a low-cost cremation, such as the ones below:
- There is no cost of a memorial service
- An expensive casket is not required
- There is no viewing
- Embalming or cosmetic preparations are not necessary.
- Unless you decide to bury the ashes, there is no plot, digging of the grave, or headstone marker.
Direct Cremation Costs
As in previous years, the cost of cremation can vary significantly from one city to the next.
Prices can range from $500 to $10,000, so be sure to get a few prices from providers.
Price Breakdown of US Cities
To give you an idea of costs, below are the top 10 most expensive cities in the US.
If you want to see the remaining 30 cities and more in-depth analysis of costs, check out our cremation prices guide.
|1. New York City, NY||$550||$10,200|
|2. Washington, DC||$700||$7,600|
|3. Houston, TX||$675||$6,800|
|4. Dallas, TX||$850||$6,300|
|5. Indianapolis, PA||$900||$6,100|
|6. Chicago, IL||$895||$4,600|
|7. Charlotte, NC||$875||$4,400|
|8. Nashville, TN||$1,295||$4,400|
|9. Virginia Beach, VA||$900||$4,300|
|10. Providence, RI||$1,400||$4,100|
Costs of Urns
Funeral providers usually include a basic container. This is especially suitable if you intend to scatter the ashes.
If you’re looking for something a bit more elaborate, we recommend buying online as it will be cheaper. Below is an idea of they cost:
- A traditional wooden urn: $50 – $150
- A simple cremation box: $50 – $100
- An extra large urn: $100 – $500
- Small keepsake for displaying a small amount of the ashes – $10 – $50
- A unique tree urn: $100 – $150
- An eco urn: $80 – $150
- A water soluble urn for scattering: $40 – $100
- Blown glass jewelry made from a small amount of ashes – $40 – $200
- An urn for a baby: $20 – $60
- Hourglass or other specialty containers – $100 – $400
Although direct cremation is an inexpensive end of life option, there is another method which is actually free.
This is donating your body for science. Becoming a donor has many benefits. It can make the passing of your loved one a simple process during your time of grief.
A cremation is also included free of charge after the body has served its purpose and the ashes are then returned to the family.
How will your body be used?
- studying the stages of decay for crime scene investigation
- testing new medical tools and equipment
- devising, testing, and learning new surgeries
- for medical students to practice procedures
- even testing safety products for vehicles
Finding a program
The process of donating your body is typically straightforward. If you have a teaching hospital or medical school in your area, you might begin by contacting them to inquire if they have a donation program. If not, they can likely put you in contact with one.
Additionally, your family doctor should be able to refer you to a facility.
How to Arrange a Direct Cremation
You can make the arrangements with a crematorium yourself instead of procuring a funeral director, which can be an additional saving. The crematory staff normally takes care of all the arrangements and paperwork, such as the death certificate.
Choosing a Provider
If you do not have a particular facility in mind and need help locating one, Cremation.com is a site that allows you to search by state. The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) has over 400 crematories in their association as well. You can also search in your area on their website.
Some funeral homes have their own equipment and perform the cremation themselves. Most contract with a third-party crematorium to do it. In some cases, transferring the body may be the only role the funeral home plays.
It’s recommended to inquire about the facility to which they transfer the body. Ask questions, such as whether their licenses and permits are current, if the staff are CANA certified, and do they have liability insurance.
It’s important for you to know your rights as a consumer, and below is some advice for direct cremation.
- Funeral homes may prefer you to use one of their higher priced plans and may only offer those. You should know that they are required to include direct cremation as one of their available services.
- You are not required to use a casket to contain the body during the cremation, therefore, if you are told you must purchase a casket, it would be false information.
- If you do wish to use a container, the funeral home is required to have one available, usually made of pressboard, wood, or a sturdy cardboard casket.
If you want to use your own urn, they must respect those wishes. If you do not provide an urn, they must provide you with a container, which is typically a cardboard box.
The Right Choice?
One of the most expensive occasions in life will be paying for your own funeral or that of a loved one. Some people think if they do not provide a big expensive service, it is disrespectful to the departed.
If you think about it, causing a financial burden for their family would not be the last act a person would want to do in life. It’s reasonable to think they would want their memory to be a virtuous one.
Choosing a direct or free cremation can give you the freedom to grieve for your loved one. It will make one of the most sorrowful times in your life a little less stressful without making major decisions and expenditures, which can take years to pay.
I like how you said that a direct cremation would allow you to not worry about finances and to properly grieve for your loved one. Being able to take time to be able to feel better about what has happened is an important part of moving on. It would be hard to do that if you were stressing about other things.
Thanks for pointing out that we should ask about direct cremation beforehand to ensure that we are getting the low-cost process. I will share this with my mom since she is on a limited budget after paying a lot due to the medical bills. This will help her to at least lower down the funeral costs.
I really appreciate your tip to get a few prices from different providers so you can know which service is right for you. My grandmother passed away recently, and I know that she wanted to be cremated so she could rest in an urn in our house. I will be sure to look around and find the best service for my grandmother.
Can you pay for direct cremation before you die?
Yes, but shop around. Prices vary widely, from $700 to $3300. Neptune Society lets you prepay, but it’s one of the most costly.
It would difficult for you to pay after, so I would say before is better.
I think she meant could she pay for it in advance while she is still alive? Yes, she can. She can also purchase her own urn, buy a plot in a urn garden or be buried in a columbarium. It depends on how much money you have or how much you are willing to spend. If you want your ashes buried, you can even buy your memorial gravestone in advance. You can shop online for it and design it yourself in advance. A lot of information is on the internet and you can always check out different companies.
Thank you for pointing out that after the cremation you can pick up the remains or have them sent elsewhere. My mother just passed away and she has always wanted to be cremated. I’ll have to look into finding the best cremation services in my area.
It’s great to know more about direct cremation. I love the fact that it’s no-service cremation, so it’s really cheap and easy to do. That’s what I want to be done for my funeral because I don’t want my family to have to pay an arm and a leg for some big memorial service.
It’s really interesting that most people whose bodies are donated to science are often cremated. I didn’t realize that doctors could refer you to cremation services. My cousin donated his body to science, so we can ask around for referrals to cremation services.
Ever so often I get an urge to donate my body to science. After reading your in-depth article I have decided that this would be my best option. Thank you for helping me decide what I should do.
I agree Terry. I looked into this awhile back and even downloaded the application on my phone. I was looking into the option of prepaying for my cremation when I came upon this article. I think I’m going to fill out that online application instead. Thank you everyone! Be safe, be well!
Can direct cremation be pre-planned? Meaning pay it now in full even though i live 30 more yesrs.
Yes and the price is locked on the first payment.
I hear nightmare additional costs of services for people by funeral homes There was an additional cost of $6,000 for “ miscellaneous things/services” required to use the very same (already paid for) plot. That seemed a real ripoff..For me and my wife, the basic cremation with retaining the ashes seem best.
I have a 4,000 policy I am paying on for my cremation. I am 66 years old this November 1, alli want is a plan cremation, a wood uti, death certification 2. Pickup body .
Thank you for sharing this information feel so much better i done right by brother my cousin i ask the funeral director to help me prepare a memorial vewing and a cremation she held things up to get more money telling me to ask people for burial money i had to call the people they gave them the loan and let what wanted and paid for they honored that and now i really what do i do’nt need fancy show for the people it is about your love and what you can do thank you
I like the idea of donating body to Science..as I am an organ donor anyway.I am single and no longer have family.My best friend will be named Beneficiary for anything..and sure do not wish her to have to hassel with any burial stuff.This sounds ideal ! Will def research this here in San Antonio. No urn…no service..no need.If anyone wanted to see me.they should have done.so when I am alive!
Direct cremation is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to the likes of David Bowie and author Anita Brookner Who Both opted for a low cost no frills Direct cremation funeral option by with no funeral service.
When you prepay for a Direct Cremation, does that money go into some type of secure escrow account? How is the consumer protected when prepaying?
Depending on which state you live in, there are usually laws to ensure that a prepaid plan is honored. By law, the funeral home cannot place prepayment funds into their own accounts. Typically funeral homes use an insurance or annuity product to set aside the funds. This also has the advantage of making your plan portable in case of relocation. With insurance there is also a mechanism to cover the funds should an insurer cease to do business.
This is a great question! I would appreciate knowing the answer as well.
Direct cremation is the most cost effective cremation. There is no viewing, the decedent is removed from the place of death, brought directly to crematory, and cremation is done. I found that using a reliable well reviewed funeral service online offered the most affordable price for the exact service that a traditional funeral home offered. I would definietely research online firms and look for excellent google review to decide on finding a lower cost direct cremation provider. I did this in NYC area, and saved thousands of dollars.
Is this available in Rockingham or Augusta County Virginia. I have donated my body to science but if weather is bad or for unforeseen circumstances they may have to refuse it.
Marian M Miller
What kind of container is required to be buried in the national cemetery at Beaufort SC
My husband wants to be cremated , he is going in to surgery net week and the dr. Said to take care things now. Need help us is 76yez. Old does not want a service.
Do they charge for refrigeration and why? How long is the wait after they get the body? Do you have to be put in a container before you get put in the fire?
Thank you for your Web Site….I found it to be most informative.
1. Can you please provide the name and contacts of all the Crematoriums available within a 40 mile radius of Collierville, TN, in Shelby County?
2. Can you provide the names and contact information of the Funeral Homes in my area that provides body pickup of the diseased and transport to the Crematoriums?
Can you plan in advance for this and make sure your family follows your wishes? I’m pretty sure my husband would have a problem with this but I also know he doesn’t have 20k lying around to bury me. No one will come to my funeral anyway so it would be a waste of money. I have a small life insurance policy but I don’t want it spent on something no one will come to.
Yes, most cremation services providers offer you the option to plan ahead and pre pay for your cremation. You may want to discuss this with your husband so he understands and is prepared for the eventuality.
Very informative article. Hate to think about the inevitable but it’s best to plan for it. I put all of this information on an e-mail, sent it to myself, and filed it where the wife will most certainly find it later.
Thanks so much,
I feel like Stephanie above and Dan Terrien – don’t just leave it where wifey MAY find the info….you guys need to talk about this and plan ahead. Just my opinion. Personally, I read the entire article and I am currently faced with putting my husband of 38 years in a nursing home due to dementia. Talk about stress!?!? It is the most heartbreaking experience of my life – to watch him deteriorate and become so frail. I did contract with Neptune and a week later cancelled my contract. Snake of a salesman talked me into all sorts of things I knew I didn’t need after calming down and thinking (and this article basically confirmed). So I may deal with Neptune again, simply because they are close in proximity to me, but I will tell them I need the least expensive cremation they have and if they don’t mention DIRECT cremation and the cost isn’t low enough – I’ll then just walk out and find someone else. Thanks for the article and thanks for the opportunity to get a few things off my chest. Prayers to all those facing these heartwrenching times.
I would not go to them again when they already tried to fleece you once. As I have been shopping for a service they were also one of the most expensive even for a direct cremation. Do yourself a favor and shop around to find a company that is not going to rip you off. My mom was just given less than three months to live. She has very little money left already so I need to help her find the least expensive way to be cremated as possible.
My daughter just passed in another state from where we live. I’d like to donate body for science, but she didn’t sign up for this before her death.
We cannot afford anything. Is there someway that we can donate body to science and they send us remains in urn later. The coroner said we can pick up body, keep in mind we’re in different state, far away. We need help now!!!
This is a very helpful article with a lot of the necessary information that we need since my grandmother, unfortunately, surrendered her battle with COVID yesterday. Now we know that direct cremation costs can reach up to $10,000. I think we’ll simply choose modest urn options so we could lessen our expenses.
If you die while travelling does a pre-paid direct cremation mean that the policy should be honored by nearest facility to death?
Valid point. My fathers and later my mothers cremation and use of body for science was denied by the State of California. The State had right of refusal since we were travelling in Singapore and not near our home in Southern California. Pre-Paid means nothing.
How much is a direct cremation.? Also how much does the funeral home charge to get the body.
When my son passed, the funeral home charged 500 bucks JUST for transporting his body. I will NEVER go through a funeral home for anything again unless it’s in line with my loved ones wishes. They take advantage of people at the most heartbreaking times of their lives and it’s disgusting and wrong! And when you TRY to go with the most affordable options, they jack up the prices on different services that would normally be cheaper. I wish so much that I could go back in time and change everything about my son’s end of life services. Even more, obviously, I wish I could go back and bring my son back!
I am so sorry for that which you experienced. I had this occur several years ago and it was WRITTEN CLEAR what was to occur.
I retrieved his body +8 years later, had him cremated and did EXACTLY as he wished in writing.