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How Much is a Burial Plot for Ashes?

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When you think of a burial, you’ll likely assume it’s referring to a body buried in a casket. You may be surprised to learn that many families choose to bury their loved one’s cremated remains just as you’d bury a casket. Burying an urn requires many of the same fees and costs that burying a casket incurs, but they’re generally lower. However, burying an urn can still end up costing a family thousand of dollars.

Burying ashes in an existing grave

If you already own cemetery plots and want to have an urn buried alongside (or on top of) a casket or other urns, you will need to contact your cemetery. Burying ashes in an existing grave is possible, but can change depending on the cemetery you’re working with. When you bury ashes in an existing grave, here’s what to keep in mind: Opening and closing fees. The opening and closing fees are the fees the cemetery charges to open up the grave and close it, which includes digging and replacing the sod on top of the grave. In a public cemetery, the opening and closing fees are usually under $1,000; in a private cemetery, the opening and closing fees can exceed the price of the plot itself, sometimes costing upwards of $3,000.

Depth of the plot. Sometimes a burial plot isn’t deep enough to open it and bury an urn on top of the casket that’s already buried. Many cemeteries do offer “double-depth plots” which are deeper and meant to leave room for an additional casket or urn to be buried on top of it. If you anticipate wanting to have an additional casket or urn buried on top of an existing one, speak to your cemetery about their double-depth plots and the fees associated with opening and closing the plot for the second burial.

Urn vault or burial container. In order to protect the urn and keep the ground stable, your cemetery of choice may require the use of an urn vault or urn burial container. Burial vaults are required by most cemeteries for caskets, but less so for urns. An urn vault is generally a good idea if you’re worried about the urn being damaged or if you’d like to store other items and keepsakes alongside the urn.

How much does it cost to bury ashes in an existing grave?

Burying ashes in an existing grave is usually less expensive than burying ashes in a new grave, but it can still cost quite a bit of money. Most cemeteries will charge an open and close fee to open the grave back up, bury the urn, and replace the sod. The open and close fee is usually charged whenever the grave is opened, so this is a fee you’ll have needed to pay twice if you’re burying ashes on top of an existing grave. If you’re pre-purchasing a double-depth plot, ask about the open and close fee and whether it’s lower the second time you need to bury an urn or casket. Double-depth plots will cost anywhere between $2,000 to upwards of $25,000, depending on the location and population density of the area.

How much is a burial plot for ashes?

Burying an urn will usually be more expensive in a private cemetery than in a public cemetery. A burial plot for cremated remains in a public cemetery will usually start around $350. A burial plot for cremated remains in a private cemetery will usually start around $1,000. The pricing can also vary depending on your location. In addition, you need to consider the open and close fee (which is around $1,200 on average), the burial vault (which is around $250 but can be more, the headstone (which are usually around $1,000 on average), and the headstone installation fee (which starts out around $450). For example a private cemetery in New York City will likely be more expensive than a private cemetery in Minnesota.

Find a cemetery

Can you bury cremated remains in your backyard?

Burying cremated remains in your backyard is possible and is usually the least expensive choice out of all of your burial options. Burying ashes in your backyard makes it easy to visit your loved one and keeps them in close proximity. Burying cremains in your backyard also allows you to decorate and memorialize the space in any way you see fit, while avoiding high costs you might pay at a cemetery. You can purchase an urn online for under $100 and a customized grave marker for around $120.

That being said, there are some drawbacks to consider when burying cremated remains in your backyard. If you bury ashes in your backyard and later decide to sell the property, you’ll lose the ability to visit the grave of your loved one. In addition to that, you’ll be required to disclose the fact that there are remains buried on the property to your real estate agent, which can complicate the sale of the property. These drawbacks should be taken into consideration and discussed with other property owners prior to burying the cremated remains to avoid any conflicts arising down the road.

Purchase an urn

How deep should you bury an urn in your backyard?

In most cases, urns should be buried with at least 3 feet (36 inches) of soil on top of them. If it’s not possible to bury the urn 3 feet deep, you need to ensure there’s at least 6 to 12 inches of sod covering the urn to prevent disruption or damage to the urn. In any case, it's not recommended to bury an urn without at least 6 to 12 inches of sod covering the urn as it can become damaged, disrupted, or moved.

How much does it cost to be cremated?

The cost for cremation will vary depending on the type of cremation you’ve chosen. In some cases, a cremation will cost the family no money at all and in others, can cost the family over $7,000.

Donating the body to science
Donating a body to science can save a family thousands of dollars on cremation costs while simultaneously helping the medical and scientific community in advancing their research. The scientific and medical community rely on donated bodies to educate future medical professionals and to advance scientific research. Most organizations will also return the cremated remains to the family at the end of the process.

Body donation cost breakdown
Average total: $0

Direct cremation
A direct cremation is when the body is cremated almost immediately with no services or ceremonies held by the funeral home. Direct cremations are the cheapest form of cremations aside from donating the body to science. If you're uninterested in holding a viewing or wake and are looking for the cheapest form of cremation, direct cremation is what you should ask for. Some states have direct cremation offers and packages that are around $695.

Direct cremation cost breakdown
Cremation fee: $450 - $3,000
Urn: $50 - $550
Average total: $500 - $3,550

Cremation costs
A cremation that involves a viewing and preparation of the body is the most expensive type of cremation. The difference between a traditional cremation and a direct cremation is a traditional cremation usually involves a service and a viewing of the body before the body is cremated. This requires the body to be embalmed and prepared for viewing, which adds on additional cost.

Traditional cremation cost breakdown
Services fee: $2,100
Transfer of remains: $325
Embalming: $725
Use of staff & facilities for ceremony: $425
Use of staff & facilities for viewing: $500
Service car: $150
Memorial prints: $160
Cremation fee: $485 - $1,500
Cremation casket: $60 - $1,500
Urn: $50 - $550
Average total: $4,980 - $7,935

While cremation is the cheapest option in terms of method of disposition, it’s still an enormous cost many families aren’t prepared to cover. If you’re interested in burying the ashes, you’ll also be responsible for the fees charged by the cemetery for opening and closing the grave, purchasing a burial vault, and purchasing the plot itself. All of these fees and costs will quickly add up and can be an insurmountable cost to many families. If you or someone you know is finding it difficult to pay for funeral expenses, consider starting up a memorial fundraiser to collect donations. A memorial fundraiser can help you raise emergency funeral funds, cover the cost of funeral expenses, and ease the financial burden through the support of your community.

Start a fundraiser

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Last updated February 15, 2022
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