4 Seniors: Cremation- An affordable way to go

OKLAHOMA CITY – Let’s face it, one of life’s big expenses is dying.

The cost of a full-service funeral and cemetery burial today averages nearly $11,000.

That’s why cremation, which is typically much cheaper, has become an increasingly popular option. According to the Cremation Association of North America, the cremation rate in the U.S is currently 53 percent, up from 35 percent just a decade ago.

Cremation cost can vary ranging anywhere from $600 up to $7,500 or more depending on your location, the provider you choose and the services you request.

If you’re interested in choosing cremation as your last purchase, here are some tips that can help you get a good deal.

Shop Around
Because prices can vary sharply by the provider, the best way to get a good price on a simple “no-frills” cremation is to call several funeral homes in your area (most funeral homes provide cremation services) and compare prices.

When you call, ask them specifically how much they charge for a “direct cremation,” which is the basic option and the least expensive. With direct cremation, there’s no embalming, formal viewing or funeral. It only includes the essentials: picking up the body, completing the required paperwork, the cremation itself and providing ashes to the family.

If your family wants to have a memorial service, they can have it at home or your place of worship after the cremation, in the presence of your remains.

If you want additional services beyond what a direct cremation offers, ask the funeral home for an itemized price list that covers the other service costs, so you know exactly what you’re getting. All providers are required by law to provide this.

To locate nearby funeral homes, look in your local yellow pages, or Google “cremation” or “funeral” followed by your city and state.

You can also get pricing information online from Parting.com, which lets you compare prices from funeral providers in your area based on what you want.

Cheaper Urns
The urn is an item that can drive up cremation costs. Funeral home urns usually cost around $100 to $300, but you aren’t required to get one.

Most funeral homes initially place ashes in a plastic bag that is inserted into a thick cardboard box. The box is all you need if you intend to have your ashes scattered. But if you want something to display, you can probably find a nice urn or comparable container online. Walmart.com and Amazon.com, for example, sells urns for under $50. Or, you may want to use an old cookie jar or container you have around the house instead of a traditional urn.

Free Cremation
Another option you may want to consider that provides free cremation is to donate your body to a university medical school. After using your body for research, they will cremate your remains for free and either bury or scatter your ashes in a local cemetery or return them to your family, usually within a year or two.

In Oklahoma, your two options are the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Willed Body Program in Oklahoma City (405-271-2424), and the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Body Donor Program in Tulsa (918-561-1250).

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