Caskets: Frequently Asked Questions

Casket QuestionsOur Caskets Frequently Asked Questions page covers the seven casket questions we hear most often. From cost to whether or not you have to purchase your casket through a funeral home, we can help.

What is the purpose of a casket?

Reduced to most practical terms, a casket is simply a container designed to hold the remains of the deceased. Caskets protect the dignity of the deceased and provide a beautiful way to have your loved one’s remains on display during a funeral or memorial services. 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 will be protected by the casket.

What is the difference between a casket and a coffin?

The purpose of a casket or coffin is the same—to provide a dignified way to house the body of the deceased. The difference between the two is primarily the design. A coffin has eight sides and is shaped somewhat like a body. A coffin is rectangular. While we don’t normally see coffins in use in North America today, this design is still used in other parts of the world.

How much does a casket cost?

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. This means you can easily find a beautiful casket to suit any taste and budget.

Why are caskets so expensive?

The cost of a casket is determined primarily by what it is made of. 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 common, readily available woods such as pine. High-end bronze models will be more expensive 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 normally have the lowest pricing.

Do I need a burial vault?

While you are not required by law to purchase a burial vault, most cemeteries will require one. The vault protects the ground around your casket from collapsing. Many cemeteries will 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.

Do I have to have a casket for a cremation?

The use of a casket for cremation is optional. You will, however, be required to have some sort of alternative container. An alternative container is a box that is designed for the particular purpose of being used for cremation. They are typically made of heavy-duty cardboard and can offer a cost-effective alternative to a traditional cremation casket.

Do I have to buy my casket from the funeral home?

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.

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