Has your client thought about what to do with their body when they die?

A recent report from Choice Mutual, an independent final expense life insurance agency, details burial options, how much they cost and what motivates people’s decisions when making burial plans. 

In the past, the most common thing to do was a traditional burial, but that is no longer the case. According to the report, the majority of Americans now plan on being cremated (44%), with traditional burials coming in second (35%). 

That leaves one in five Americans (21%) who have other plans for their body.

Some (6%) choose to donate their bodies to science, while others (4%) opt for a natural burial — being buried without a casket, directly in the ground.

Others have opted for more unique arrangements, such as mummification, having their ashes launched into space or being turned into a memorial diamond. Such options are not cheap.

Mummification — a lengthy process in which a person’s skin and flesh are preserved — is the costliest, starting at $67,000 (all figures in U.S. dollars).

Plastination — a process in which the body is drained of all fluids and filled with a plastic-like substance — starts at $40,000.

Cryonics — which will freeze your client’s body at a temperature low enough that the body won’t decompose — is a relative bargain, starting at only $20,000.

The average cost for a traditional burial is $7,360 — and that’s without a burial plot or headstone. Cremation is a slightly cheaper option, coming in at $6,260, but that doesn’t include the cost of a viewing and memorial services.

If your client is looking for a more affordable option, donating their body to science is free. 

While cremation has become the most common option, what people are doing with their ashes varies.

The most popular option among respondents was having their ashes spread in a specific location (40%), followed by having their family keep the ashes (36%).

Ten per cent of respondents chose to mix their ashes with soil and be planted as a tree, while 14% chose something “more creative,” such as being painted onto a canvas, turned into a coral reef, compressed into a diamond, mixed with ink and used for a tattoo or used in fireworks. 

Having your ashes launched into space costs upward of $2,500, and having them planted as a tree starts at $50.

Thirteen per cent of respondents said financial reasons influenced their burial plans. More people were influenced by personal beliefs (47%) and family traditions (24%). Yet, nearly one-third of respondents (30%) said they would choose differently if they did not have to take these factors into account.

Choice Mutual surveyed 1,500 people in the United States about their burial plans and preferences. Read the full report here.