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This agency only works with local, privately-owned funeral homes. This means you will be dealing with a trusted member of your community, not some distant corporation only worried about a bottom line.

Which Funeral Caskets You SHOULD and SHOULD NOT Buy

Even if you've selected a funeral home with a package of services and prices you are happy with, they might still have you "over a barrel" if you are selecting your casket from them. Many are badly over-priced, and I'm going to explain how to know.

Caskets made of stainless steel, copper, and bronze are a waste of money. They do nothing to preserve a body in the ground. What is the purpose of preserving a casket made of non-corroding material when what is inside will be dust after a few decades? You only need inexpensive wood or carbon steel. You don't need a thick 18 gauge carbon or stainless steel or an expensive wood. An attractive casket of your choosing (including the color you want) should cost well under $1,700. Most funeral homes will try to get away with having you or your family purchase a casket costing $2,500 to $3,000 or more, influencing you also to think that is "normal" or even the "low end." What is NORMAL to my customers is $995.


The Value Of A “Sealed” Casket

There is nothing about the construction of caskets (or vaults) made today that prevent decay or slow down decomposition of the body in any meaningful way. It simply makes the family feel better that most of the water and air are not reaching the body. But that’s all a rubber gasket seal can do, and caskets made of wood do not even come with any kind of seal.

“Despite claims to the contrary, sealed caskets do not prevent a body’s decomposition. In 1975, a $500,000 lawsuit was filed in Puerto Rico alleging that a casket failed to prevent decomposition of a corpse after a 3-week interment, despite a written guarantee. The manufacturer stated that no casket can protect a body from decay ‘indefinitely.’

Funeral directors emphasize excellent sealing qualities to sell their most expensive caskets. However, Dr. Jesse Carr, former Chief of Pathology at San Francisco General Hospital, stated that an embalmed corpse fares far worse in a hermetically-sealed metal casket than otherwise. ‘If you seal up a casket so it is more or less airtight, you seal in the anaerobic bacteria—the kind that thrive in an airless atmosphere…These are putrefactive bacteria, and the results of their growth are pretty horrible…In fact, you’re really better off with a shroud, and no casket at all.”

Kenneth V. Iserson, MD, Death to Dust, p. 471

“The truth is, our contemporary funeral practices (i.e., embalming, sealed caskets, and vaults) only delay the inevitable and quite natural dust to dust, ashes to ashes progression of human decomposition. These forces of nature can be delayed for a time, but they cannot be stopped.

Still, if such protection, even if only temporary, is sufficient to persuade the consumer that the extra expense is justified—there is another possible result. If the seal does prove to be airtight (all seals, regardless of their composition, will eventually disintegrate) while the body completes its decomposition, the gases released by the anaerobic bacteria—which actually thrive and multiply faster in an airless environment—will have nowhere to go. The abdominal cavity may bloat and even erupt, not exactly the picture of eternal peace and protection envisioned by the purchasing survivors. The gas pressure can even be sufficient enough in some cases to explode the seal around the lid of the coffin.”

Darryl J. Roberts, Profits of Death, p.43

The reality is that the so-called “protective seal” of any kind is to increase the cost of the casket and reap a larger profit for the manufacturer and the vendor. It offers no real value except perhaps a comforting thought to the survivors.

In any case, too many funeral homes over-price ALL their caskets--even the cheapest carbon steel caskets that they can purchase for about $200 and resell for $1,500.

Caskets pictured above are the "low end" carbon steel (not "stainless") and wood from the list below.

Some other casket lists you may want to study:


Lindquist Mortuary

Goff Mortuary

Premier Funeral Services



Legacy Funerals and Cremations

If the total cost for the casket you want with a package of services combined is more than $5,000, you are looking at an EXPENSIVE FUNERAL HOME. If you still don't own a burial plot, $6,000 will cover it all.

All the caskets below are under $1,600, and your cost can be frozen with either a single cash payment or on a payment plan up to ten years when purchased with a funeral service.

Caskets are not usually included in funeral service package prices, because they vary so widely in price. Sometimes a basic casket is included in a quoted "package" price. Lower package prices are most often contingent upon your purchasing a casket from that funeral home. If you purchase your casket elsewhere, you can still purchase a package from that funeral home, but it is most likely a few hundred dollars more. The best deal of all is to use a funeral home with excellent prices on both services and caskets.

Strategy: Pre-determine Your Casket Price Range

Example: $895 to $1,595

If your funeral home can’t give you a casket you like in that price range, plan on getting your casket from someone else.

Use as your pricing guide. Costco offers good prices. Costco only allows you to pay in full and then take delivery. There are no layaway plans. Go to their web site:


“A Tisket, A Tasket—So THAT’s How They Sell Caskets”

“Lest you think the display of caskets was the result of random, haphazard placement, please reconsider. Some casket manufactures actually reserve the right to approve the showroom, and some require funeral homes to carry a minimum of 70% to 80% of that particular manufacturer’s caskets as a prerequisite for being allowed to sell its line and to qualify for the manufacturer’s discount. The funeral directors, and particularly manufacturers, have worked long and hard, experimenting with casket layouts, testing them through consumer research, and refining the placement, pricing, and presentation of the caskets.

Different methods have been tested and tried over the years. In his book Successful Funeral Management, W.M. Krieger suggested discarding the idea of placing caskets in a row from least to most expensive. Such an arrangement (he referred to it as the ‘stairstep’ method) enabled the consumer to make price comparisons too easily. Instead, he recommended an approach which divided the arrangement of caskets into fourths, two of them above a certain median price and the other two below it, with the goal to sell a casket just above the median price. The consumer would first be shown a casket in one quadrant priced above the median and higher than the budget discussed. If the consumer said it was too expensive, the next casket shown would be in a second quadrant and considerably less expensive and also of lesser quality. The funeral director would be betting that the consumer would say the lesser casket was insufficient and would then lead him to the ‘rebound’ casket located in the third quadrant and priced just below the price of the first casket shown. The ‘rebound’ casket was the one initially targeted for sale by the funeral director, but the consumer was led to feel that he or she was in charge of the whole process. Complicated, but he was convinced it worked.

The ‘triangle’ method is similar in that the consumer is unaware of the manipulation taking place. The room is laid out with caskets displayed in triangular groupings. Beginning at one point of the first triangle, the consumer is shown a casket selling, for example, for $1,975, but is told that it is in the $1,500 to $2,000 range. The next casket shown sells for $2,225, but our consumer is told that is just $250 more. If no negative price reaction is received after being shown either casket, the consumer would be led to another triangle where the prices are proportionately higher and the cycle would begin again. If, however, the consumer balked at the higher of the two caskets in the first triangle, the funeral director would lead the way to the third casket, selling for $2,025 and be told that the savings would be $200.

Most standard methods for selling caskets are based on the premise that the average consumer is most likely to purchase in the middle of the casket price range. The consumer may not purchase the most expensive casket, but simply by having it present, the consumer is more apt to find the mid-priced casket more reasonable by comparison. Conversely, the consumer will not want to consider the least expensive caskets of obviously inferior quality. To capitalize on these assumptions, the funeral directors will show the most and least expensive caskets first.

The casket salesperson is an adaptable sort! If it is perceived that ‘protection’ is important to the consumer, then that will be the focal point of the presentation and metal caskets will be shown. If, however, the consumer mentions something about the beauty of wood, then the sales pitch will smoothly shift gears to extol the virtues of wood and no more mention of ‘protection’ will be made. The buyer, of course, will later hear the funeral director stress the qualities of the more expensive sealing vaults in order to ‘protect’ the beautiful wood casket just selected.

Another common ploy is to show only the more expensive casket, even if you have a similar model available for a lower price. Funeral directors know that people tend to choose what’s on display. Often, consumers will find a selection of caskets whose prices escalate in $100 to $200 increments. This, too, is by design, for funeral directors have learned that people are more easily led to the higher priced caskets if the price differentials are not considered too great.

There are many other sales devices that may be used. Frequently, the least expensive caskets on display are of an unattractive color. Perhaps the lining is not matched to the color of the casket, or the lesser caskets may have scratches or other obvious surface defects. They may be displayed on the lowest shelf to make them appear (at least subconsciously) as inferior. The whole purpose is to make it difficult to envision the loved one reposing in such an unbecoming structure and to gently but firmly lead the consumer up the casket price ladder!

Once the initial conference and the tour of the casket room is complete, the funeral director may attempt to separate you from any non-family adviser you might have brought along. The feeling of the funeral director, of course, is that you and your family will arrive at more extensive/expensive decisions if left alone to ponder the size of your final tribute. Don’t let this happen. It is precisely at this point that you need objective input to help you continue to think clearly and make the wisest choices.”

Darryl J. Roberts, Profits of Death: An Insider Exposes the Death Care Industries, 1997, pp.74-77.


A burial vault is required at all cemeteries. It is to prevent the ground from settling. A sealed vault will not preserve the body. It may preserve the casket, depending on the casket's construction. You only need a basic concrete “grave liner” or grave box to meet cemetery requirements. An "indestructible" vault is a waste of money.

A vault with “setting fee” (setting means placing the vault in an already open grave) should not cost more than $1,500. “Opening & Closing” (digging) varies from cemetery to cemetery, and it depends on whether it is a weekend or holiday. The chain memorial parks are charging around $1,000 for opening and closing, city cemeteries significantly less. Vault setting is often free of charge at city cemeteries.

The earth is compacted to prevent settling. This can only be done with a vault or concrete grave box. A casket alone would be crushed easily. The concrete vault is buried first. Then the casket is lowered into the vault. The lid is placed on the vault, and then the compacting is done. Sod is laid over the grave when compacting is completed.