Prepaid Cremation Questions & Answers

Prepaid cremation provides peace of mind. Knowing your family won’t be burdened with financial strain or the stress of difficult decisions during an already emotional time can be a source of comfort for you and the ones you love.

In today's uncertain environment, many families are finding comfort in planning final arrangements in advance and easing the financial and emotional burdens on loved ones. Please let us know if you have any questions.

As always, we are committed to honoring your loved one in any way possible. And we will ensure you and your guests feel safe conducting services with us. Please contact us if you have questions.

People often have questions about prepaying for a cremation or a cremation memorial, and we're here to help.

In this article, you will learn:

Can you prepay for a cremation?

Yes, you can prepay for a cremation. By selecting a funeral or cremation provider in advance, not only can you make your wishes known, you can also prepay for the cremation services in installments. Funeral homes, cremation providers and cemeteries don't typically offer payment plans at the time of need, but you are able to fund arrangements ahead of time with a payment plan.

Can you prepay for a cremation memorial or funeral service?

Yes. Not only can you prepay for the cremation itself, most funeral homes also allow you to pay for the memorial, funeral or celebration of life in advance. This comes with the additional benefits of funding your arrangements with a payment plan, plus it takes the burden of making arrangements off loved ones during their time of grief. At funeral homes in the Dignity Memorial® family, you get the added benefit of our Relocation Protection.

English Consumer Cremation Guide - Pencil

Plan a memorable cremation funeral

Planning a personalized cremation funeral or memorial is an event unlike any other. We created a guide to help you understand all of your cremation options and how to plan a truly memorable event. A Guide for Families Choosing Cremation is free, and it will help you start planning today. Then, when you are ready, a Dignity Memorial provider will be there to walk you through every step of the cremation process.

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When you have a prepaid plan with a Dignity Memorial provider and move more than 75 miles away from where you live now, every detail of your plan moves with you. All of our prepaid plans are fully transferable and will be honored by any one of more than 1,900 Dignity Memorial providers in North America. That’s a promise you won’t find anywhere else.


What are the options for prepaid cremation services?

From simple cremation to celebration of life or traditional funeral services, there is virtually no limit to the types of services offered for prepaid cremations. Funeral homes typically offer packages designed specifically for families choosing cremation to streamline the process. As always, they also offer a la carte options so that individuals can design their services exactly the way they want them.

Packages might include:

  • A simple cremation without a service. Sometimes called direct cremation, this choice includes just the basics, such as transportation of the deceased, a cremation casket and cremation paperwork.

    We see this option chosen most often for individuals with just a few living friends or family, or in situations when keeping costs down is most important.

  • A cremation with a memorial service or celebration of life. In addition to transportation of the loved one and the cremation itself, this package usually includes a beautiful container for the ashes and a service at the funeral home or a place of worship. These services can happen before, immediately following or long after the cremation has taken place.

    This option is an increasingly popular choice. We see it chosen most among families without a strong desire to follow specific rituals, instead favoring remembrance of the good times and celebration of the life lived. Families don't feel as rushed to schedule services immediately, giving more time to plan travel. Learn more about celebrations of life.

  • A cremation with a funeral service. In addition to transportation of the loved one and the cremation itself, this usually includes embalming, hair and makeup services, a casket, a viewing at the funeral home, and a funeral service before the cremation takes place.

    We see this option chosen most often for individuals with a preference to follow traditional religious rituals. Viewing or presence of the full body at the visitation or funeral sets this option apart.

Can you prepay for burial or placement of cremated ashes?

Yes, many people choose to prepay to have their ashes buried in a cemetery or placed in an outdoor or indoor niche. Along with traditional urns, cremation containers and scattering tubes, more contemporary memorial options, such as cremation jewelry, glass and other keepsakes, ocean memorials or cremation spaceflights can also be prepaid. Do-it-yourself options like ash scattering typically cannot be prepaid. Learn more about options for cremation burial or cemetery placement for cremation ashes.

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“We recently moved. I packed my father's ashes. I could not find the urn for 3 months. Which meant I didn't sleep well for 3 months. I don't think I will keep ashes again. Just something to think about before you consider keeping ashes. I'm always worried about the urn.

—Karen Vandenberg Childs

What are the benefits of prepaid cremation?

Paying for cremation in advance has many important benefits, including:

  1. Makes a difficult time easier for survivors. Many people choose prepaid cremation because they want to reduce the burden on their family. By taking care of the details ahead of time, you minimize the number of potentially overwhelming decisions your loved ones face after your death.

  2. Eases a financial burden. Funding a funeral shortly after a death can be a financial hardship for many families. A prepaid cremation plan allows you to cover costs ahead of time, so your family doesn’t have to think about money. Plus, you get the option to pay in affordable monthly installments.

  3. Ensures your wishes are honored. By making arrangements in advance, you can be confident that you'll get the service you envision.

  4. Protects against rising costs. Most prepaid cremation plans include guaranteed pricing, which means that today's costs are locked in, protecting your loved ones from potentially higher costs in the future.

  5. Gives you peace of mind. Similar to insurance for the unexpected, a prepaid cremation can provide a sense of comfort. When you prepare in advance, you rest easier at night.

Read Why Prepaid Funerals Are the Best Gift for Your Children.

How to prepay for a cremation 

Here's how to prepay for a cremation:

  • Start by contacting one or more funeral homes or cremation providers.
  • Set an appointment with a pre-planning advisor, who will meet you at your home, at their location, or online or by phone. The advisor will explain their services, benefits and associated costs in about an hour. If you wish, you can make selections and make payment during the meeting, but it's not expected.
  • When you have decided which provider to use, you can then discuss payment options—usually a lump sum or installment payments—and whether to use insurance or a trust. In any case, the funds are protected from business disruption or bankruptcy. Learn more about how prepaid funeral plans work.

Get your free pricing guide

Our Guide to Understanding Funeral & Cremation Costs helps you decode the sometimes confusing costs of final arrangements.

What is a cremation society? How does it work?

Years ago, a cremation society was an organization that helped facilitate prepaid cremations. Members paid a fee to join and got help planning their cremations and reduced rates on prepaid cremation services. The model changed to a more standard direct-to-consumer business model, but the name stuck.

Today, the word "society" is part of the names of some cremation providers that do simple cremations without services like viewings or memorials. Their locations are usually small retail shops in larger cities, as opposed to full-service funeral homes that can offer spaces for gatherings. They usually do not offer permanent placement of ashes in a cemetery, nor do they coordinate celebrations of life or receptions. Neptune Society and National Cremation Society are the two largest cremation societies in the United States.

What paperwork is required for a prepaid cremation?

Prepaid cremation paperwork is relatively simple and typically includes:

  • A contract detailing your purchase and itemizing your selections, such as a container or the details of your memorial service.
  • A document that states how the cremation plan will be funded, typically through either a trust or funeral insurance.

Some providers will also recommend that you “self-authorize” a cremation form and complete a vital statics form (name, address, parent, next of kin, race, etc.), which is needed to complete a death certificate. Having these on file makes things a little easier on your surviving family members.

What happens if you prepay for a cremation and move?

The only constant in life is change. When you choose a prepaid cremation plan at a Dignity Memorial provider and then move, the plan remains in effect. If you move more than 75 miles from the location where your original arrangements were made, your prearranged services—and your cremation trust—are transferable and will be honored at any of more than 1,900 providers in the United States and Canada. Learn more about The Dignity Difference.

Plan an unforgettable tribute

Whether you’re planning a cremation for a loved one or pre-planning for yourself, start with a story, passion or pastime to provide inspiration. We'll help you weave those very special memories into a beautiful service with personal touches and lasting impressions.


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