What you need to know: Cost of a Traditional Burial vs. Ashes in a Memorial Forest

Making end-of-life plans can seem expensive and daunting. For many Americans, the thought of planning our own death is so uncomfortable that we simply never do it. When this happens, our final expense falls on those who survive us. Making arrangements during an emergency is often stressful, and most families don't have time or energy to shop around for the best price. You wouldn’t buy a house without looking at a few, so why do so many of us make end-of-life arrangements without shopping? Often our discomfort with end-of-life planning causes us to pay the highest price. By being proactive about death, you can save yourself and your loved ones time, money, and stress.

Today, a traditional burial costs upwards of $15,000 — including the burial, cemetery plot, and headstone. While traditional burial has been the standard, it’s not the only option or the most popular. As societal beliefs around interment change, and consumers look for greener and more meaningful alternatives, this price tag can be hard to stomach. Death could very well be one of the most expensive moments of your life if you don’t look for end-of-life alternatives. Cremation is the most popular end-of-life option not only for its flexibility, but also because of the lower cost of cremation. 

According to the Cremation Institute, the average cost to be cremated is between $800 - $4000 — just a fraction of the cost of a traditional burial. Further, when you choose cremation, you're not limited to the confines of casket. Cremation ashes can be stored in an urn, turned into jewelry, or spread in a memorial forest where your loved ones can visit for generations to come. This sense of physical closeness and ritual can help bring peace and comfort.

Providing this feeling of beauty and peace is why we’ve built beautiful memorial spaces for your friends and family to pay tribute — while protecting the health of our planet. Our memorial forests conserve forests and honor your legacy. We’re proud to offer memorial packages for any budget — at less than half the cost of a traditional burial. 

**According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a funeral with viewing, vault and burial in 2019 was $9,135 per person. A headstone and plot can range from $1,700-$10,000, depending on location, according to Choice Mutual.

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

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 and budget — creating a custom package that meets your end-of-life vision. When you’re ready to make your end-of-life plans, one of our memorial advisors will work with you to determine forest location, tree size and type, and memorial ceremony proceedings. We have four customizable packages to help you envision your final resting place. Most packages include two memorial ceremonies, but additional ceremonies can be added to any package for $3000 a person or $250 a pet. 

In addition, each of our memorial packages helps reforest America by planting 25 to 400 Impact Trees. These Impact Trees, which are planted in partnership with One Tree Planted, sequester CO2 emissions and offset your environmental impact. By choosing a memorial forest, you leave the planet better for future generations. 

Browse our sample packages to learn which one is right for you (note that this may depend on the forest you choose): 

  • The Young Tree package is our smallest, starting at $3,900 with one memorial ceremony included. 
  • Our Heritage Tree package includes a memorial tree situated beside a peaceful creek. The Heritage Tree package comes with a tree up to 20” in diameter, one memorial ceremony, and plants 50 Impact Trees for the environment. This package starts at $5,900 — roughly $9,100 less per person than a traditional burial would be. 
  • The Legacy Tree package is our most popular. It includes a tree up to 30” in diameter, with two memorial ceremonies, located in an intimate grove. For every Legacy Tree package reserved, 200 Impact Trees are planted to reforest America. This package starts at $8900 — approximately $10,550 less per person than a traditional burial. 
  • Our Monument Tree package includes a tree up to 40” in diameter, located with unobstructed mountain views. This package starts at $12,900, includes two memorial ceremonies, and plants 400 Impact Trees around the country. Compared to traditional burial, the Monument Tree package is $8,550 less per person. 

All of our pricing is transparent, with no hidden fees or surprise add-ons. Your purchase comes with a Peace of Mind Guarantee to ensure you feel great about your memorial. It includes a 365-day refund policy so you can feel confident you’ve made the right choice.

The preservation of your tree is our top priority: we have certified arborists and experienced forest stewards to maintain, protect, and nurture your tree. In the event that your tree dies, we’ll do all we can to replant it in the same location or close by at no additional cost to you. Whether it’s adjusting a payment plan, or you just need someone to talk to, Better Place Forests is here for you every step of the way.

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 comes with a tree number and memorial marker to make it easy for friends and family to visit and pay tribute.
  • Memorial ceremony. 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 protected forest. 
  • Protected forest land. We’re committed to protecting and conserving forest land around the country. 

“Death’s got its own schedule, so we can only determine so many things,” author Ann Neumann says. Your legacy is one of them. By being proactive about end-of-life planning, you’re able to create a meaningful legacy while making a smart financial decision. When you’re ready to create a meaningful legacy, our advisors are here to help. Book a forest tour to get started. 

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