How Much Does Cremation Cost?

A fellow caregiver asked...

How much does cremation cost?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

The cost of cremation typically ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 if arranged through a funeral home and from $1,500 to $3,000 if arranged directly through a crematory. Although the cost of cremation differs depending on locale, it's almost always substantially less than the cost of a full body burial -- which is one of the reasons cited for cremation's growing acceptance and popularity.

However, in addition to the cost of the basic cremation service -- processing a body into the ash-and-bones mixtures called "cremains" -- a number of other charges may be added for related paperwork, goods, and services, including:

  • Getting an original death certificate and copies.

  • Obtaining a certificate releasing the body for cremation, usually issued by a medical examiner or coroner.

  • Transporting the body from the place of death to the place of cremation.

  • Disposing of the cremains by burying or scattering them.

  • Removing a pacemaker.

  • Handling charges paid to funeral industry personnel (if involved).

  • Purchasing or renting a casket or container.

Although these incidental charges can add a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to the cost of cremation, the item that's potentially the priciest is a casket, which can range from $500 for a simple wooden version to $35,000 or more for an ornate style. Many people who choose cremation opt not to purchase a casket, but some prefer to have one during a funeral or memorial service at which the body will be present -- before cremation occurs.