The funeral business generates millions of dollars per year and caskets are a large percentage of that revenue. Saving on the heavily marked-up prices most funeral homes charge for caskets can ensure that that money is better spent elsewhere.
So, are you crazy to consider buying your own casket before you die? the answer might surprise you!
Buying a casket before you die can significantly cut down the price by up to $1200 if bought through an online supplier. Being totally legal, allows you to also come to terms with your own mortality and allows its exterior to be customized. Caskets are also easy to store out of sight even at home.
This is a big decision because there are a number of things you need to think about before buying your own casket, so please feel free to read on for more information.
Can you buy your own coffin?
You can absolutely buy your own casket before you pass away. In all 50 states, there are no laws saying you must purchase a casket from the funeral home and only after a person dies. In fact, these businesses are legally obligated to use a casket you provided with no additional fee.
So legally, you are allowed to do this but there are a number of things you need to think about before you do so.
- Who will you buy it from?
- How will you transport it from place to place?
- Where would you store the casket?
- How would you ensure it lasts until your funeral?
I’ll be going over all these questions and more in the following article, so please scroll down to the paragraph you most need or continue to read the entire article.
However, firstly I’d like to address those niggling doubts you may have about whether or not buying your own casket is actually a good idea.
Why would you want to buy your own casket?
There are perhaps four major reasons for buying your own casket before you pass on. The first has to be the huge cost savings you get when you can rationally shop around and get a real bargain. Most families fall into the trap of paying over the odds for a casket provided by a funeral home because they are consumed with the grief of someone passing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, these funeral homes, often family-run, are not evil businesses but they do maximize their profits wherever they can. Often the same caskets they will sell to you for thousands of dollars can be sourced online for mere hundreds of dollars.
I highly recommend Titancasket.com for any online purchase of caskets as they provide very high standard products at a fraction of the price found in funeral homes.
The second reason to buy a casket is if you want to personalize it in any way. Inherited from our Victorian ancestors, funerals now are a very serious and somber occasion. They should rather be a celebration of life and reflect the individuality of the deceased. Painting a casket with custom designs can be a way of doing this, especially if you are the one with the painbrush.
Another reason why you might want to buy your own casket is if you want to be buried on your own property. You can read more about who can bury remains on their land in an article here. In some states, you can carry out an entire funeral on your own land without the need for a funeral director, but do check your state laws before doing this.
Finally, if you are an environmentally conscious person you may wish to leave this world with as little impact on nature as possible. Green burials are a fantastic way of not polluting the local environment when you pass, but not all funeral homes will offer you a green package. Online retailers are often the best port of call for wicker caskets or those from sustainable sources.
How much does it cost to be buried in a casket?
According to the FTC they have found the average cost of a casket to be around $2000, but they can go for as much as $10,000 depending on materials and design. These are often the prices found in funeral homes.
Online retailers, like my friends over at Titancaskets.com, can provide the same caskets for 50-60% less. This often includes free delivery assuming that you live in a fairly metropolitan area.
However, you also need to consider that the average cost of a burial plot costs, according to my own study, is $2422 for the US as a whole. This price can be dramatically less in some states and if you purchase through a private sale. Also, consider companion plots to rapidly reduce the price too.
All told, burial can cost in excess of $5000, of which a traditionally purchased casket can make up a large proportion.
Where would you store a casket?
Storage is the obvious issue because despite your savvy business sense you probably don’t want to be reminded of your morality on a daily basis.
You could easily store a casket in most family homes as standard caskets are 24 inches wide by 79 inches long with a height on average of 24 inches (61 X 200 X 61 cm). The ideal place would be a dry garage or loft space which would allow the casket to be tucked away but easily accessible when eventually needed.
If you aren’t squeamish, caskets make excellent storage spaces in the form of a trunk. I heard of one lady who slept with her beautifully decorated casket at the foot of her bed for years. Whether or not we are all that comfortable with our own mortality is another question.
Another option is to find a self-storage outlet near you and put the casket there. However, make sure you do run the numbers first as you wouldn’t want to pay more in storage than you save by buying your own casket.
Important note: If storing the casket in a garage or self-storage location make sure that it is well protected against water, temperature change, and pests. You don’t want water or heat damage to make the casket unusable nor do you want termites to decimate it.
How to ensure the casket is used
If you are going down the, let’s face it, sadly less conventional path of buying your own casket before your death then do tell someone about it. Speak to your spouse or relatives explaining what you have done and where the casket is being stored. Pre-planning your funeral with a funeral home (if you choose to) is another good way of ensuring that this knowledge is passed on to them.
If you don’t have immediate friends or family to tell, then make sure this information is included in post-death documentation alongside your will. The entire reason for buying your casket before you die is so that this cost isn’t passed on to or escalated for your next of kin.
If you really have to, pop a post-it on the fridge saying
What else should you pre-pay for a funeral?
If you are willing to buy your own casket before you pass away, you could ensure larger savings on your funeral as a whole if you pre-pay for certain things.
Now I am not your financial planner and you should always seek your own path, however, I am a keen follower of successful people like Dave Ramsay. The best thing you can do is to research the exact cost of the funeral you would want to have and then pay for that in cash if you are able to.
Many funeral homes will allow you to negotiate a pre-paid funeral which will lock in the price at the tariffs currently being advertised. Honestly, the price of funerals will go up, so if you are doing this while fairly young and healthy it will save your estate a lot.
However, you can avoid a lot of fees if you buy other things in addition to your own casket. As I referred to before, consider purchasing your burial plot yourself and whenever possible from a private seller. You can find websites such as gravesolutions.com which allow people to post a listing for a burial plot.
Is it legal to build your own casket?
it isn’t illegal to build your own casket in the USA, but some state laws will dictate that caskets have certain criteria. This is especially true when the deceased died of a contagious disease or for other environmental concerns.
In fact, there is quite a community of DIY casket builders as it gives you a way to come to terms with the natural path of life and the fact that we all move on to a better place at some point.
Can I be buried without a coffin?
Burial without a casket is not only legal but is also culturally important in some cases. In addition to this, a casketless burial, or indeed cremation, can be a great cost saver while also having a very low impact on the environment. Most burials without a casket not carried out for religious reasons are done so as part of a green funeral.
If you want to forgo a casket altogether, you do have several green alternatives to consider from a simple burial shroud to a human pod which will turn your earthly remains into a much-needed tree.