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The cost of a traditional burial vs. ashes in a memorial forest

Making end-of-life plans can seem daunting. We understand; the thought of planning our own death is so uncomfortable that many of us can’t bring ourselves to do it. But sparing ourselves that discomfort means the final expense often lands on those closest to us. 

Maintaining a cool head and trying to plan events after someone passes away is often stressful, and most families don't have time or energy to shop around for funeral pricing. This can leave them in a position where they end up spending a great deal of money on funerary options that may not be what you or your loved ones envisioned. 

To spare your loved ones the exhaustion and emotional burden that comes with suddenly planning and paying for a funeral, we recommend that you begin your end-of-life planning while you can. By being proactive about death, you can save yourself and your loved one’s time, money, and stress.

What do traditional burial costs pay for? 

Pricing for funerals and memorial services will depend on what part of the country you’re in and what type of casket, plot, and service you want. But in just about all cases, you’re paying for the following: 

  • Casket ($2,300 and up, depending on materials used)
  • Embalming ($500-$800)
  • A burial liner or vault ($1,000 and up)
  • Cemetery plot ($1,000 - $5,000 and up)
  • Headstone or marker ($1,500 and up)
  • Funeral service ($7,000 and up)

All of these costs can add up to roughly $15,000 or more. If you haven’t made end-of-life plans by the time you pass, it will be your loved ones who end up paying for your memorial service. They may also have to plan this service, which can be a heavy emotional burden for those who are grieving and possibly already overwhelmed by the financial impact of a traditional funeral.

But there are other options. Societal beliefs around interment are changing, and many people are searching for greener and more meaningful alternatives. One of these alternatives is cremation, followed by spreading ashes at a memorial tree

If you opt to have your ashes spread in a memorial forest, your memorial tree can become a living tribute to your time spent on earth. Having your ashes scattered in a memorial forest can also be a fraction of the cost of a traditional burial. 

*Better Place Forests sample pricing varies depending on location setting, tree type and size, and number of spreading rights

The cost of cremation and a memorial forest

According to the Cremation Institute, the average cost to be cremated is between $3,000 - $4,000 — far less than the cost of a traditional burial. When you choose cremation, you're not limited to the confines of a casket; instead, cremation ashes can be stored in an urn, turned into jewelry, or spread at a memorial tree your loved ones can visit for generations to come. 

The beauty and peace of a memorial forest can be immensely comforting. Not only are these memorial spaces places of comfort for your friends and family to pay tribute; they also contribute to conservation and, with every tree planted, help protect the health of our planet.

We know that legacy planning is a big commitment. To help you understand what goes into choosing a memorial forest, we’ve answered some financial questions below: 

How much do I save by choosing a memorial tree with Better Place Forests?

We tailor each of our memorial packages to your unique needs, creating a custom package that meets your end-of-life vision. We have memorial packages available for any budget — often at less than half the cost of a traditional burial. 

When you’re ready to make your end-of-life plans, one of our memorial advisors will work with you to determine location, tree size and type, and memorial ceremony proceedings. 

Schedule a free online forest tour to get started. 

What kind of packages does Better Place Forests offer?

We have four customizable packages to help you envision your final resting place. Most memorial trees cover rights to two memorial ceremonies, but additional spreading rights can be added to any package for $3,000 a person or $250 a pet

With each of our memorial packages, we plant 25 to 400 Impact Trees to help reforest parts of the country affected by deforestation or wildfires. These Impact Trees are planted in partnership with One Tree Planted to further offset your environmental impact. By choosing a memorial tree, you leave the planet better for future generations. 

Browse our sample packages to learn which one is right for you (bear in mind that available options are dependent on the forest you choose): 

  • Our Heritage Tree package features a memorial tree up to 12” in diameter. It includes the right to one memorial ceremony and plants 50 Impact Trees. This package starts at $5,900 — roughly $9,100 less per person than a traditional burial would be. 
  • The Legacy Tree consists of a tree up to 30” in diameter and includes the right to two memorial ceremonies. For every Legacy Tree package reserved, 200 Impact Trees are planted to reforest America. This package starts at $8,900 — approximately $10,550 less per person than a traditional burial. 
  • Our Monument Tree package comes with a tree up to 40” in diameter, located with unobstructed mountain views. This package starts at $13,400 and has the right to two memorial ceremonies; it also plants 400 Impact Trees around the country. Compared to traditional burial, the Monument Tree package is $8,300 less per person. This is our most popular package. 
  • The Landmark Tree package is good for families as it includes the rights for four memorial ceremonies. It also includes a tree up to 70” in diameter, 1,6000 Impact Trees, and is $9,150 less per person than a traditional burial ceremony. 

What’s included in my memorial package? 

  • Comprehensive memorial plan. When you make end-of-life plans with Better Place Forests, the responsibility of planning a memorial service won’t fall on your loved ones after you’ve passed. 
  • Memorial tree. Your ashes are spread at the base of a private tree in one of our memorial forests. 
  • Memorial marker. Each tree can have a memorial marker to make it easy for friends and family to visit and pay tribute.
  • Memorial ceremony right. When it’s time, one of our forest stewards will help your loved ones place your ashes (mixed with soil) at the base of your tree — continuing the forest life cycle and completing yours. Your family is welcomed to be as involved as they’d like to be during the spreading ceremony.
  • Impact Trees. Rest easy knowing that your memorial package promotes reforestation efforts around the country. 
  • Peaceful memorial space. Your friends and family can honor your life while immersing themselves in the nature of a forest that will be protected. 
  • Forest land protection. We’re committed to protecting and conserving forest land around the country. 

Does Better Place Forests have a refund policy?

Yes. Your purchase comes with a Peace of Mind Guarantee to ensure you feel great about your memorial tree. It includes a 100-day refund policy so you can feel confident you’ve made the right choice.

Who will take care of my memorial tree?

Our arborists and experienced forest stewards maintain, protect, and nurture your tree. Its health and preservation are our top priority, but in the event that your tree dies, we’ll allow you to choose a new tree or replant another close by at no additional cost to you. 

I have some other questions about memorial forests. Who can I talk to?

We’re happy to answer any questions you may have. Schedule a free online forest tour with one of our advisors to learn more about our forests and tree packages. 

Author Ann Neuman once said, “Death’s got its own schedule, so we can only determine so many things.” Your legacy is one of those things. By being proactive about your end-of-life planning, you can create a meaningful legacy while making a smart financial decision.