Seattle, Washington

Low Cost Funeral Tips for the Seattle Area

Options abound when planning a Seattle funeral. Here are some of our best tips for keeping the cost low.

1) Plan your funeral. For the unready, every death is premature. Add expensive if you leave survivors scrambling to make funeral plans during a time of shock, loss and grief. Uncommunicated desires go unheeded. Uninformed purchasing adds costs unneeded. An easy way to avoid overspending at the time of bereavement is planning and talking about that planning. Consider then communicate.

Consider that we offer the perfect, free tool to help you think through the many decisions to be made. It's called My Funeral. It is your online funeral planning tool. It's free.

Consider, too, that funeral directors, who will welcome your wisdom in planning ahead, have options for helping you choose within your budget. It pays to ask.

2) Comparison shop. The funeral home's General Price List (GPL) is one of the most important tools you have for controlling and understanding funeral costs. The GPL describes all the goods and the services the funeral home offers, along with the price of each. Like a menu in a restaurant, the GPL allows you to select the items you want, and it tells how much each will cost.

The Federal Trade Commission's "Funeral Rule" requires funeral homes to give customers a General Price List at the beginning of any discussion of arrangements. The funeral director must give you a copy to keep.

3) Donate your body to science. The University of Washington will pay to transport a willed body to the School of Medicine. The university will bury cremated remains in its community plot at Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery when the university's medical school students finish their studies of a donated body, also at no cost to the family.

Be aware the university's Willed Body Program reserves the right to reject a body, which would require the family paying to transport the body elsewhere. Certain other considerations apply, so review the acceptance policy carefully.

4) Join an association. Whether they contract with funeral homes or own their own, funeral associations can provide low-cost funerals and cremations. In Washington, People’s Memorial Association has signed up more than 200,000 people looking for a simple funeral at a low price. People's Memorial Funeral Cooperative is a funeral home owned by the association that offers a full range of cremation and burial choices to members in the Seattle/King County area.

People's Memorial Association ( has contracted with 19 funeral homes in the Puget Sound area and Central Washington to provide services at set prices. As of 2014 their cost for a direct cremation was $699; a full mortuary service with basic casket ran $2,399.

5) Use your veteran’s benefits. The Veterans Administration offers many burial benefits to veterans. Benefits include a gravesite in any of the 125 national cemeteries with available space, including Tahoma National Cemetery, 18600 SE 240th Street, Kent, WA 98042, (425) 413-9614. Spouses and dependent children are also eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Services and benefits include opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, government headstone or marker, burial flag, and Presidential Memorial Certificate -- all at no cost to the family. Some veterans may also be eligible for burial allowances. Cremated remains are buried or interred in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.

Regardless of cemetery, a government headstone or a grave marker and a burial flag can be provided at no cost.

6) Use a public cemetery. Municipal cemeteries are generally less expensive than private cemeteries. The best price we've found is King County's Vashon Cemetery, (206) 463-9300, on Vashon Island. Plots at the Vashon Cemetery sell for $500 to $600 with an open/close fee of $720. All cemeteries in King County require a vault or a grave liner, which range in price from $450 to $900. Use a calculation chart to figure your costs.

7) Use a faith-based columbaria or memorial garden. St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral's columbarium on Capital Hill has spaces available starting at $550.

8) Hold the gathering in a park. Hold a funeral or an end-of-life celebration in a city, state or national park – especially if a particular site held specific meaning for the decedent. Many parks allow reservations of special picnic areas. Bring prepared foodstuffs from somewhere such as Costco Wholesale or from your local grocer or deli, or make it a potluck celebration. Remember that many parks don’t allow alcohol.

9) Have a home funeral. You are not required by law to use a funeral home to care for a body after death. You can prepare the body in the decedent’s home by yourself or with help from friends. Using dry ice, you can keep the body at home for up to three days while you privately mourn or hold viewings or gatherings for friends or relatives.

10) Buy a less expensive casket. The casket is typically the most expensive part of a traditional funeral. Consider buying a plain wood casket or another less expensive model. You can make your own or use a kit. Remember that a funeral home is not allowed to charge a handling fee if you provide your own casket.