Caskets: Frequently Asked Questions
In practical terms, a casket is simply a container designed to hold the deceased’s remains. Caskets protect the deceased’s dignity and provide a beautiful way to have your loved one’s remains on display during a funeral or memorial service. In the early days, the casket (or coffin) was primarily functional. Over time, the tradition of purchasing a casket based on design has grown as a way to honor the person who the casket will protect.
The purpose of both a casket or a coffin is to provide a dignified way to house the deceased’s body. The difference between the two is primarily the design. A coffin has eight sides and is shaped somewhat like a body. A casket is rectangular. While we don’t usually see coffins in North America today, this design is still common in other parts of the world.
Many of our casket questions involve price. That’s because casket costs vary widely. A simple casket may be as low as $1,000. Fully customized high-end models can go as high as tens of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there is a wide range of options in all price ranges. You can easily find a beautiful casket to suit any taste and budget.
The cost of a casket is determined primarily by the materials used to make it. Pricing is not unlike that of fine furniture. For example, caskets made of rare hardwoods such as mahogany will be more expensive than those made of more common, readily available woods such as pine. High-end bronze models will be more costly than those of stainless steel. The amount and type of ornamentation will also be a factor in the price. Customization and personalization can also add to the cost of the casket. The mark-up for caskets varies as widely as the prices. While it may be difficult to shop around, it is possible to save money by comparing prices. Funeral homes tend to have the highest mark-ups, followed by retail showrooms. Online providers typically have the lowest pricing.
While the law doesn’t require you to purchase a burial vault, most cemeteries require one. The vault protects the ground from collapsing around the casket. Many cemeteries permit the use of a less expensive grave liner. Another option is a lawn crypt. The best thing to do is to consult your cemetery for their policies regarding vaults and liners.
The use of a casket for cremation is optional. You will, however, be required to have an alternative container–a box designed for cremation use. Alternative containers are typically made of heavy-duty cardboard and can offer a cost-effective alternative to a traditional cremation casket.
No. You do not have to purchase your casket from the funeral home. The Funeral Rule, a law designed to protect consumers, specifies that your funeral home is required to accept a casket from a third-party seller.