by David Knight | Updated:

The Costs of a Cremation in California:

Your guide to understanding and finding local resources.

How much does a cremation cost in California?You can get a simple cremation package in California for as little as $600. Several California cremation providers make it easy to arrange the services you need in a matter of minutes either online or over the phone. By using this guide you’ll have a better understanding of the cremation costs in California, the links to access what you need, and see how you can pay for the services you need.

What’s Included with Basic Costs for a Cremation in California?

To cremate a body in The State you need to have several basic services performed for you. The companies we looked at will provide the services listed below for between $675 to $950.

  • Transport the body from the place of death to the crematorium
  • Acquire necessary State permits
  • Provide death certificates
  • Provide an alternative container (container for the body while awaiting cremation)
  • Crematory fees included
  • Provide a temporary urn – either plastic or a cardboard box. You can purchase and provide an urn of your own.

That gets you a basic, no frills cremation in the State of California. But what if you wanted a little more? Adding a few extra services really has a meaningful impact without breaking the budget. What if the family wants a memorial service for the loved one? Have you thought about what you’d like to do with the ashes? Do you want to store them in an urn on the mantle or shelf? Maybe you’re thinking you’d like to scatter the ashes on the Pacific Ocean or over the Sierra Nevada range following a nice remembrance ceremony? Let’s look a little further.

Direct Cremation with a use of a chapel

California CremationMany cremation providers have nice chapels that families and friends can use to memorialize their loved one after cremation.  The costs mentioned at the end of this paragraph include all the services described above for a basic cremation plus a little more. Would you like to use the mortuary chapel, maybe make use of the audio/visual equipment with a nice video tribute?  You might think to add use of the reception hall for a family meal after the service as well.  For this option you’re looking at a cost from $1,259 to $3,175 depending on the County where you’re located.

Cremation with a Traditional Funeral Ceremony

Cremation consultationLet’s say you’re wanting the traditional funeral service complete with time for family members to view the body and attend a memorial service before the cremation is performed. All the services mentioned above plus embalming and preservation of the body is going to be needed. You’ll also need to add to your budget some money for the costs of dressing the deceased and placing them in a temporary casket for the memorial service. Once the service is complete the body is then removed from the casket and the cremation process takes place. The cost for this level of service can be anywhere from $2,980 to $4,250 again depending on your County.

What to do with the ashes?

Ash scattering CeremonyOne thing we haven’t covered up to this point is what to do with the ashes? As mentioned above, are the ashes of your loved one going to be displayed on a shelf, fireplace mantle, or some other place of prominence in your home? Are they going to be scattered somewhere – the ocean, mountains, or your loved ones favorite place of solitude? Let’s look at these options to clarify what your wishes might be. Be sure to check on local ordinances or call your State or County office to see if there are any restrictions to what your plans are.  The last thing we want is a ticket with a big fine for trying to memorialize a loved one.

  • Display the ashes of your loved one in an urn – This is the choice by the majority of people who have cremations performed. Of the best places I’ve found to get an urn, Walmart.com and Amazon have some elegant, cost effective choices. You can get an urn from your local crematorium but we found the prices to be a little higher than if you got what you needed directly from a retailer.
  • Scatter the ashes at sea – With hundreds of miles of California coastline, it’s tempting to scatter the ashes of your loved one at sea either by air or by boat. There are plenty of providers who specialize in this type of remembrance of your loved one. Click the link at the beginning of this paragraph to see some choices. Be sure to get any permits and State fees taken care of beforehand.
  • Scatter the ashes by air – If the location where you’d like to scatter your loved ones ashes is over land and maybe a little remote then scattering the ashes by air might be the answer you’re looking for. Click the link to see several companies listed that perform this service at very reasonable costs.
  • What to do with the ashes is limited only by your imagination. For more thoughtful ideas for a lasting tribute, see our cremation guide.

What’s the Cost of a “Free” Cremation in California?

What if money is so tight that none of the options mentioned above are possible? If that’s the case then you might consider donating your body to science. If you go through Sciencecare.com the cremation is completely free of charge after their research is complete.

Check out their FAQ page to learn what criteria they use for accepting a body for research and the cremation process that follows.

How Can I Pay For My Cremation?

end of life choice savingThere are basically 2 ways to pay for cremation in California; you can self-fund through saving the money in a bank account or pre-planning through a cremation provider; or purchase a small whole life insurance policy.

Self-funding – I would choose this option if direct cremation through a crematory is your plan. If you save $75/month or $18/week for a year then you will have saved enough money to pay for a direct cremation. Prepayment plans with a cremation provider are also a good choice for this low-cost alternative.

Whole Life Insurance – What if you pass away before you save enough money for your end of life choice? A cremation insurance policy takes care of that worry for a low monthly payment. As long as the low premiums are paid as agreed, the face amount of the policy is in reserve for your designated beneficiary. When the time comes, and it will for all of us, your beneficiary can use the money to pay for your cremation final wishes.

Literally millions of people (not an exaggeration) are purchasing small insurance policies to cover their final expenses. These policies are outside what is considered traditional insurance in that the underwriting requirements are more relaxed, there’s no medical exam, and possibly no medical questions depending on what plan you decide to purchase.

Easy Choices of Whole Life Coverage


Level/preferred – This is by far the most cost-effective option if you’re in relatively good health with no recent complex medical issues. With this level of coverage, your policy is effective immediately upon approval and payment of the first premium. You get the 5 Guarantees of Final Expense Insurance as long as premiums are paid as agreed:

  • There is no medical exam
  • Your coverage cannot be canceled
  • Your policy does not expire
  • Your policy benefits will not decrease
  • Your premiums will never increase

 

$5,000 Preferred Benefits Policy – Non-Smoker Monthly Premium
Age 55 60 65 70 75 80 85
Male $17 $23 $29 $34 $46 $66 $93
Female $14 $17 $21 $26 $35 $48 $72
$5,000 Preferred Benefits Policy – Smoker Monthly Premium
Age 55 60 65 70 75 80 85
Male $23 $29 $36 $47 $67 $83 $113
Female $19 $23 $28 $35 $46 $61 $92

Guaranteed Issue is the level of coverage that is the most expensive but certainly has its place for people who desperately need coverage but cannot qualify for Level/preferred due to some type of medical issue – cancer, COPD, heart disease, diabetes, etc. With this type of policy, the face value is payable if you pass away two years after the purchase date. If you pass away before the two-year waiting period then your beneficiary gets the premiums paid to that point plus 10% (sometimes a higher percentage depending on the insurance carrier). But you do also get the 5 Guarantees of Final Expense Insurance + one more – There are NO medical questions.

$5,000 Guaranteed Benefits Policy – Non-Smoker Monthly Premium
Age 55 60 65 70 75 80 85
Male $28 $36 $44 $57 $66 $114 $151
Female $23 $33 $41 $49 $56 $82 $98
$5,000 Guaranteed Benefits Policy – Smoker Monthly Premium
Age 55 60 65 70 75 80 85
Male $32 $41 $51 $63 $77 $111 $151
Female $26 $34 $45 $53 $67 $82 $98

What Are the Next Steps I Should Take?

Call/text us (800-531-8220) or make an appointment for a free 15-minute no obligation phone consultation. We’ll take a look at the factors that are unique to you and recommend a course of action. If it’s something we can help with then that’s great. If the course of action sends you in a different direction we’re ok with that as well. Our goal is to give you peace of mind through proper planning and helping activate your plan.

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