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Rent-a-car, Rent a Casket, Rent a Cremation Urn?

by Linda Banks

 "Rent or buy" image by Owen Moore

Image by Owen Moore*

People commonly rent cars, movies, tools and tuxedos. But caskets and cremation urns? Today we can rent those, too.

With people choosing to live more simply, individuals want end of life plans to be simple, as well. No longer is it a must to purchase and own everything. Most funeral homes today will rent or provide a temporary casket or urn for ashes for use at a memorial service. You can rent an elaborate, traditional casket for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase one.

A cremation urn in time for a memorial service

In a recent situation, a customer spoke with Ira Woods, president of OneWorld Memorials. The customer chose a permanent cremation urn with great care and intention. The dilemma was that the specific urn would not arrive in time for the memorial service, which was the next day. There are situations when the family desires to have a memorial service within days of the deceased’s death. Rushed shipping costs might be more than a customer wants to pay. Or a customized urn or special order cremation urn might take longer due to production time.

In this case, Ira contacted a funeral home local to the customer’s area. The customer was able to rent a cremation urn for $75. The customer was provided with a temporary plastic urn for ashes that fit inside the elaborate rental urn at the funeral home. She used this to display during the memorial service. The customer’s permanent memorial urn was shipped when ready. And the ashes of her loved one were housed in an urn that reflected her loved one’s legacy.

Reasons to rent a cremation urn or casket

  • Allows a family time to select a memorial urn for their loved one’s remains without feeling rushed.
  • Renting also allows time to special order and/or personalize an urn with engraving or with a design.
  • Renting a casket or cremation urn is more environmentally friendly and sustainable than purchasing.
  • Save money. Cost of caskets range from $2,000.00 to $10,000.00 for those made of mahogany, bronze or copper.
  • Allows the option to rent a casket for the funeral service and viewing. Afterwards, the final remains can be sent for cremation and reside in a permanent memorial urn, scattered, or placed in a biodegradable urn.

Two specific timing scenarios are common around renting a cremation urn or casket. One occurs prior to cremation. The other occurs after cremation.

Prior to cremation, a rented casket can be used for the traditional viewing when family and friends gather to pay respects. The body is placed in a simple wooden box that is placed inside the specially designed casket. Following the service, the body is transported for cremation or burial in a wooden or cardboard box provided by the funeral home. After cremation, the cremation ashes are given to the family to store, scatter, or bury.

Many funeral homes today also provide cremation services. They will provide a cremation urn for use at a memorial service following cremation. Ask the funeral home for details of associated costs. The specially designed funeral urn or chest will hold the container (often a plastic bag inside a cardboard box) with the cremated remains. Following the memorial service the cremated remains are returned to the family in the temporary container for final disposition. Most basic cremation services (no viewing, no memorial service) include an urn with the price of this service.

Renting a casket or cremation urn for the memorial service gives families time to explore the great variety of cremation urns available. It is not required to purchase an urn from a funeral home. Urns are available from specific stores or on-line sites. Our planning guide “Working with a Funeral Home or Crematorium” provides details on what services to expect from either a funeral home or crematorium.

Caring for ashes after a memorial service

After cremation there are many choices of how the final remains can be cared for:

  • Memorial urns are available to permanently store the cremated remains. Choose a metal, glass, marble, ceramic or wooden urn to contain the ashes at home or to be placed permanently in a columbarium.
  • Scattering urns help family members disperse cremated remains in a respectful way. Cremation urns to scatter ashes are lightweight, easy to handle and open conveniently from the top for inclusion of the ashes, as well as for scattering.
  • Burial urns are available when the purpose is to bury ashes in a cemetery or on private property.
  • Biodegradable urns will decompose naturally in water or in earth.
  • Keepsake urns are small urns that hold a fractional portion of cremated remains. They are often used when a family wants to share ashes.
  • Cremation jewelry is designed to hold a tiny portion of cremated remains inside a pendant or bracelet.

Contact your local funeral home or crematorium if you are making end of life plans. State regulations might apply that impact your decision around cremation and the disposition of ashes. Ask for information and costs related to the use of a temporary casket or cremation urn.


Linda Banks provided extended end-of-life care for her beloved Aunt who was like her mother. When her brother suddenly died, she was instrumental in orchestrating all of the details of his final wishes to be cremated. Linda has been an active blogger for ten years, including blogging about Willie Nelson and his family. Willie told her recently that he reads her blog every day.