5 Things You Need To Know About Direct Cremation

Direct cremation is a disposition option in which the body is cremated in the days immediately following the death, without a funeral service beforehand. Direct cremation is the most economic (affordable) option for disposition.

Basic features of direct cremation

Because direct cremation does not include a formal funeral or any pre-funeral events, many of the costs of a traditional funeral are avoided.

Service options

If you are interested in a direct cremation but want to have a formal service as well, that service will likely take the form of a memorial service at a later date. If you want to have a service before the cremation, you will not be planning a direct cremation, but rather a "traditional" cremation.

How to arrange a direct cremation

In most cases, the staff at the crematory will be able handle all aspects of the cremation, including completing the death certificate and transporting the body to the crematory for a nominal fee. In addition, a crematory will often charge a fraction of the price that a funeral home would charge for the same services.

You may also work with a funeral home to plan a direct cremation. The funeral home will complete the death certificate and transport the body to the crematory for a small fee, in addition to the Basic Services Fee that they will charge for their services.

To find a crematory, use our resource Guide: Finding a Crematory.

To find a funeral home, use our resource Guide: Finding a Funeral Home.

Direct cremation costs

Direct cremation is the least expensive disposition option, as the most expensive purchases—casket, preparing the body, funeral service, extensive transportation—are avoided. In addition, some funeral homes may charge a lower Basic Services Fee (funeral homes' non-declinable flat fee) for direct cremation. If you are interested in saving money, it's worth calling a number of different funeral homes to find one with a lower direct cremation Basic Services Fee.

If you are planning on burying the cremated remains in a cemetery plot or interring them in a columbarium, you will also need to take into consideration any cemetery costs, such as the cost of the plot or columbarium niche, the cost of a headstone or grave marker, and any cemetery fees such as opening and closing of the grave, headstone installation fees, and endowment care or perpetual care fees, among others.

For advice on how to choose a cemetery, see our article How to Choose a Cemetery.

Personal advocacy

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule, you have the following rights when it comes to planning a direct cremation:

  • You are never required to use or purchase a casket for direct cremation
  • The funeral home or crematory you’re working with must make available an unfinished wood box or alternative container for the cremation
  • If you provide an urn to the crematory, they must return the cremated remains to you in the urn you provided; if you don’t provide an urn, they must return the cremated remains to you in a container, which may be a cardboard box

Comments