Cremated remains held until funeral costs paid in full

The funeral industry is experiencing significant change at present as the shift towards cremation destabilizes a business that has been ‘traditional’ for some decades.  Families are leading this change as they demand lower-cost funeral services.  Price and cost are now driving purchasing decisions, largely because families are struggling financially, and paying out thousands of dollars for a funeral is just NOT an option anymore!

How Local Counties Are Facing Issues with Unclaimed Cremated Remains

Read this post about Cremated ashes remaining unclaimed as Social Security becomes responsible for more unclaimed bodies. It explains how local county Social Security departments are experiencing a rising issue with families failing to collect cremated remains.  

The financial hardship that many families are suffering has resulted in an increase in state or public funerals.  County Social Services are dealing with more unclaimed bodies of indigents or low-income families.

There have also been reports about how the issue of paying for cremation services continues to plague funeral directors.  Some stories in the media have reported how some funeral directors opted to withhold returning the cremated remains to the family until all payments are made in full.  

This is effectively ‘ransoming’ the ashes, and seems an unethical act by a funeral home! Should this be allowed? If you purchase any other consumer item and fail to make the required payments, the item will be repossessed. Today, if you purchase funeral products, you must pay in full when you purchase them. Walmart will not dispatch your $995 casket unless you have paid in full.

Deciding What to Do with Cremated Remains

Unclaimed cremation remains. What happens?

As we turn to cremation as a nation, the issue of what to do with cremated remains will continue to present challenges.  I often hear individuals claim that they just wish for the family to scatter their mortal remains.   But often, families end up with remains sitting in the back of a closet, undecided about what to do with their loved ones’ ashes.


Funeral homes are also reporting a growing issue with unclaimed cremated remains, and the problem this presents for them in storing a growing number of cremation urns.  Some funeral homes have combated this by adding a clause to their cremation contract to allow them to dispose of the cremated remains if they are not claimed within 60 days.

Low-cost cremation services add to this dilemma. When a family has arranged an inexpensive disposition for just a few hundred dollars, they are less likely to want to incur further funeral costs on elaborate cremation urns.

Inexpensive cremation options generally need to be paid for IN FULL before the direct cremation is conducted.  A budget direct cremation will usually include a temporary cremation urn/container.  This can be a small plastic urn or a cardboard container.

If you are concerned about funeral costs, then a simple direct cremation is the most affordable option.  A direct cremation can be performed in most areas of the United States for between $695 and $1,395 (depending on where you live).

Use our Local Provider Search to find locations and low-cost cremation near you.

Sara Marsden

I have been researching and writing about the death care industry for the last fifteen years. End of life services and experiences are something most of us choose not to reflect upon until we are suddenly faced with dealing with it. I have been contributing comprehensive and independent resources for families that explain how the funeral industry operates, and the laws that govern funeral practices. Sara writes for US Funerals Online and DFS Memorials LLC, as well as contributing to other forums and publications for the death care industry. I have a BA in Cultural Studies. This helps my analysis of cultural death care rituals, alongside a career background in Business Management. The death care industry is undergoing an epoch of change and this fascinates me.

Related Posts

Read more articles about cremations & funerals

How Much Does Cremation Cost Without Any Services?

If you need assistance with a low-cost cremation without a service - Use our Local Provider Search to find cremation costs and providers near you. Cremation has become popular for end-of-life arrangements due to its simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and environmental considerations.…...

Sara Marsden
Why direct cremation?

Do I need a funeral home if I just want cremation?

I have been asked this question several times by families. With the increasing interest in direct cremation, a family may question their need to deal with a funeral home at all. Now, this may all depend on your state and…...

Sara Marsden
Why direct cremation?

Your 10-Step Guide to Arrange an Affordable Direct Cremation

Death is an inevitable part of life, and when it happens, making arrangements for a loved one's final journey can be overwhelming. Direct cremation has recently become a popular and more affordable option for many families. Here, we provide a…...

Sara Marsden
Cremation Memorial Service Different Options