• Cremation costs vary widely and depend In part upon whether they are associated with a traditional funeral and/or interment of the ashes in a cemetery plot or mausoleum. A direct cremation alone without any use of the funeral home facilities for any visitation or ceremony may be obtained for as little as around $875 in Maryland but costs vary widely. When a direct cremation is chosen,  a memorial service that does not involve the services of a funeral establishment may be held at a later date, incurring little cost. 
  • On the other hand, a traditional funeral followed by cremation with all the bells and whistles at an upscale funeral establishment may cost as much as a traditional burial, particularly if there is interment in a cemetery plot or columbarium.
  • One cost effective option is to arrange a direct cremation, at minimal cost, and spend the money on a nice memorial service. Jessica Mitford, the author of The American Way of Death , a ground-breaking book that led to the regulation of the funeral industry, died in 1996. The FCA website relates that her family spent under $500 for a simple cremation, and that “Later, they hosted a grand memorial gathering. It was very much in keeping with Jessica’s disdain of lavish funeral merchandise but love of a good party.”  
  • A casket may be purchased for viewing prior to cremation, if desired.  Special casket outer boxes can be rented for such a purpose; the inside fabric and soft lining is cremated with the body, and then replaced. Typical caskets themselves cannot be re-used. Caskets designed to be cremated with the body must be wood or cardboard or some other combustible material. 
  • Note that some funeral establishments have their own cremation facility and their charge for a direct cremation may include the actual cremation. Others use a crematory that someone else owns, and may or not include the charge from that crematory for the actual cremation in their quoted price for a direct cremation. You should make certain that you are aware of the total charges for a cremation, even a direct cremation, before signing a contract with the funeral home.
  • In Maryland, the body must be identified and held for 12 hours prior to cremation. The identification must be done by the person authorized to direct disposition of the body, or that person’s designee. 
  • In DC, the medical examiner must review the case before the body can be cremated, which may delay cremation for several days.
  • In general, ashes may officially be scattered on one’s own property or that of another with permission, placed in a cemetery, retained by the loved ones, or scattered over a body of water at least three miles from land. 

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maryland and Environs

P.O. Box 34177

Bethesda, MD 20827

FCAME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent of the law.