Although all funeral homes will offer a Direct Cremation package, they may not tell you about that option unless you specifically ask. Even if they do, the exact components of a Direct Cremation package can vary from funeral home to funeral home, and the pricing of the components will also vary widely.
It is very important to understand what is included (or not) when you begin price discussions with a funeral home. For Direct Cremation, these are typically:
- Basic Services Fee (covers sheltering the remains, necessary permits, preparing the death certificate, coordinating arrangements with the crematory, a portion of funeral home’s overhead, etc.)
- Transporting the body from place of death to the funeral home;
- Transporting the body from funeral home to the crematory;
- A basic container for the cremation process;
- A basic storage container for return of the ashes;
- Filing of the death certificate;
- Notification to Social Security.
The following are NOT included in a Direct Cremation package:
- Rites or ceremony at the funeral home, gravesite, or elsewhere;
- Cremations urn;
- Copies of the death certificate.
To ensure that you are doing a fair apples-to-apples comparison, you must verify that the quotes include the same components. When you call for quotes, be sure to specifically ask about these considerations:
— Transportation Charges: Each funeral home will have a designated “service area,” for transporting the body from the place of death to the funeral home and will charge extra if they must drive outside that area. A typical service area is a 30 mile range, but some funeral homes may have a service area of only 10 or 20 miles. At $2-5 per “extra” mile, that difference can add up to a significant upcharge. Tell the Funeral Director where you are located and where the cemetery will be and ask if there will be a transportation upcharge and, if so, how much.
— Cremation Container: Cremation requires a container to hold the body during the cremation process. This may be a simple wooden casket, but a so-called “alternative” container made of fiberboard, cardboard, or some other combustible material is a less expensive choice. Funeral Directors must offer an alternative container option, although some may have a direct cremation price that includes a more expensive basic casket instead. Others may not include the cost of any cremation container in their direct cremation price. Make sure that you ask if the price includes their most basic “alternative” container.
— Crematory Fee: If a funeral home uses a third party crematory to do the cremation, the funeral home’s Direct Cremation price may actually exclude the charge for the cremation itself! To avoid getting a surprise charge added on after the fact, be sure to ascertain whether the quote for Direct Cremation includes the crematory charge.
— Cremains Container: After the cremation, the ashes will be returned to the next of kin in a plastic or cardboard box often referred to as a “temporary urn” that is perfectly acceptable for transportation or storage. If you are planning to scatter or bury the ashes, you do not need to buy a more permanent urn. If you do want a prettier or sturdier container, however, you have the option of purchasing an urn and this may be from any source you like. The cost of a “temporary” container is usually included in the quote for a Direct Cremation—but not always, so do ask to verify. And be aware that the funeral home may have an upcharge for transferring the ashes into an urn supplied by the customer.
Keep in mind that you are not limited to your immediate area when you select a funeral home, especially if you are not going to be using the funeral home’s facility for a viewing or service. Since funeral home prices for the same services can vary by thousands of dollars, widening your search and considering funeral homes a little farther away could mean an enormous savings, even if they charge a little extra for transportation. To get started, CLICK HERE to check out our sortable table of all funeral homes licensed in Georgia with their available pricing information.
Decide which funeral directors you’d like to talk to, and call several (CLICK HERE for a sortable table of the funeral homes with their contact info) to explain what you want and ask for a quote. Federal law requires that they give you actual prices over the phone. Don’t work with a funeral director who makes you feel bad or guilty about wanting or needing to save money. After shopping around, make appointments to go in to talk with the two or three funeral homes who gave you the fairest prices and made a good impression on you.