Can You Bury an Urn on Top of a Casket in the USA?


It’s becoming more and more common for loved ones to want to be buried with each other in a single casket or single plot. However, what happens when you die years apart or if one person wants to be cremated? Can you bury an urn on top of an already buried casket?

It’s legal to bury an urn on top of a casket in the USA. Many cemeteries will allow multiple remains in a single plot and allow families to place an urn on top of an already buried casket.

This article will detail when you can bury an urn on top of a casket and why that may be a good option for your family. I’ll also discuss some alternative options, so be sure to read until the end!

Why You May Want To Bury an Urn on Top of a Casket

Most cemeteries will allow you to bury an urn on top of or next to a casket, and many cemetery policies allow multiple cremated remains in a single grave space. However, others limit how many urns you can place in a pre-existing grave, so be sure to check with your funeral director for their specific policy.

Sharing a Burial Plot Allows You To Remain Close to Loved Ones

People place urns on top of caskets for many reasons, but the main one is to remain close to loved ones.

This practice is common among spouses who pass at different times or have other wishes about what they want to be done with their bodies. 

It’s also common for parents to be buried with their children in this manner. If a child passes while still young, a parent may want to be buried with them after their death. In this case, placing cremated remains on top of the child’s existing casket makes sense.

It Is Cheaper To Bury an Urn on Top of a Casket

Another practical reason for choosing this type of double burial is the cost savings. Typically, cremation is less expensive than the cost of embalming the body, purchasing a casket, and performing a new burial.

How much cheaper will depend on where you live, what type of cremation and funeral you choose, and various other factors. However, families can save upwards of thousands of dollars if they decide to cremate the body instead of a traditional burial.

Additionally, burying an urn on a pre-existing plot will save the family from purchasing a second plot. A public cemetery plot can cost anywhere from $525 to $2,500, depending on where you live, so using the same spot for multiple remains is an excellent option for a family on a budget.

Logistics of Burying an Urn on Top of a Casket

Burying the cremated remains of a loved one on top of a pre-existing casket may be an excellent option for some families—particularly those who want to save costs or want the deceased to remain together even in death.

There are a few points to consider before taking advantage of this option:

  • The deceased must have had an existing relationship. It’s important to clarify that you can’t place remains on top of any casket you find at a local cemetery. In many cases, the first to die must have written in their will or other official documents that they approve of sharing their resting place.
  • The cemetery has to allow it. While most cemeteries in the U.S. permit you to inter multiple remains in one plot, some have policies against it. It’s essential to check with your local funeral home to see your options.
  • There are fees associated with urn burial. While the price of burying an urn is much less than burying a casket, there are still fees associated with it. The family must pay for the cremation itself, the burial urn, the labor for the actual burial, and in some instances, an outer burial container.
  • The family must have the tools necessary if burying the urn in a family plot. Placing an urn on top of a casket is an excellent option for those with family cemeteries because it’s much easier to bury an urn than a new casket. If you’re placing the urn in a family cemetery, be sure to acquire the tools necessary to dig a hole about three feet deep and dig towards the end of the casket.

Types of Burial Urns

Like caskets in the U.S., Urns are highly customizable depending on the family’s wishes. If you’re choosing to bury a loved one’s remains in an urn, you’ll first need to decide what material you want to use:

  • Metal: Metal urns are a great option because they’re durable for a burial. Metal urns can be crafted out of steel, copper, pewter, brass, or bronze.
  • Stone: Stone urns made from marble, granite, onyx, or quartz are also an excellent option for those who want a more natural-looking urn. However, these unique urns are often a more expensive option since they are more challenging to make.
  • Wood: Wood urns can consist of any wood, but the most common woods are cherry, maple, pine, oak, walnut, or poplar. It’s important to note that these will decompose over time when buried.
  • Synthetic materials: These urns consist of manufactured materials designed to look like an urn made of wood, bronze, granite, ceramic, or marble. While synthetic urns may be cheaper, they’re not as durable as the other materials they are mimicking.
  • Biodegradable: A biodegradable urn is an excellent choice if the family is interested in an environmentally friendly option. These urns are made from recycled or natural materials and will break down over time when buried.

In addition to the urn itself, you may also need to purchase an urn vault for the burial. While it’s not legally necessary to bury an urn in a vault in the USA, many cemeteries require them to keep the ground from settling after the burial.

Where To Buy a Burial Urn

Most families will choose to purchase both the burial urn and urn vault through the funeral home. This option is typically the most convenient for families as there’s less work that the family will need to do.

However, if the funeral home doesn’t have an urn that you like or you’re looking for a cheaper option, you may want to look online to purchase the urn and burial vault. There are a lot of options from online retailers such as Amazon.com that you may want to consider:

  • Crown Vault Urn Vault: This synthetic urn vault is made from plastic and crafted to look like a granite vault. It’s an excellent option for those looking for an affordable burial or who want to bury other mementos with their loved one’s ashes.
  • Engmvwod Tree of Life Burial Urn: This stainless-steel burial urn is decorative and durable enough for a burial. It comes with a satin bag to protect it from scratches that may occur when placing it into a burial vault.
  • Silverlight Urns Marble Urn: This marble urn comes in many different color options, making it an attractive choice for your loved one’s remains. While this urn would be great to display, the marble material makes it very durable for burials.

Alternatives to Burying an Urn on Top of a Casket

If you or your loved ones are interested in a double burial but don’t feel that burying an urn on top of a casket is the right choice for you, there are some other options that you can consider. 

The following double burial and family burial options may be good to explore and discuss with your funeral director.

Display Urns

Some people would prefer to be cremated but don’t want to be buried. In this case, many people will purchase an urn to hold the ashes and display them at home. In addition, some display urns are suitable for mounting on headstones, allowing you to keep them at the burial site without burying them. 

There are many types of urns available, and people can choose from different materials, shapes, sizes, and styles to match whatever aesthetic they choose. Urns can also be made for indoor or outdoor display, so there is sure to be an urn that fits your family’s wishes and needs.

Here are a few examples of display urns that you can buy on Amazon.com as well:

  • Trupoint Memorials Decorative Cremation Urn: This beautiful black and gold urn is a classically shaped decorative urn and is an excellent addition to any home. 
  • Fovere Store Candle Urn: This candle urn is an excellent option for those looking to display the urn more subtly. This decorative urn can blend into your current house decor while memorializing your loved one.
  • M Meilinxu Teardrop Urn: This handcrafted teardrop-shaped urn includes a red heart at the top and is a creative and colorful way to display the ashes of your loved one. 

Ash Scattering

Many families who choose cremation would prefer to scatter the ashes of their loved ones instead of displaying or burying them. It’s common for families to take the ashes to a place of meaning for the deceased and scatter the remains there as their final resting place. Some families will even split the ashes among them to spread them in multiple areas.

Most cemeteries also have an area dedicated to ash scattering if you don’t have a specific place in mind or want the remains to be close to other loved ones who have passed.

If you’re choosing to spread ashes, please be mindful of where you’re choosing to take them and any laws or regulations surrounding scattering cremated remains at that site.

Companion Plots

You can also bury both parties next to each other in a companion plot. Companion plots can either be two plots side-by-side or two caskets in one plot, and most cemeteries will allow some version of this for couples and families. Be sure to check with your funeral home director to see what options are available to you.

Urn Gardens

Urn gardens are also popular in most cemeteries in the USA. You can buy a plot to bury a single urn or multiple plots for a couple or family in an urn garden. These gardens are an excellent option for people who want to be cremated but still wish to remain close together after death.  

A Mausoleum

Another co-burial option is a mausoleum. Mausoleums are above-ground structures that house multiple remains in either caskets or urns. They can also serve as an excellent place for the living to mourn the deceased and house more remains than a single plot can. With a mausoleum, each person can decide whether they want to be cremated or placed in a casket, but they’ll all be together in the same room. 

Eco-Friendly Burials

Many people have also started looking towards sustainable death practices to minimize their burial’s impact on the environment. According to NFDA’s 2021 Consumer Awareness and Preferences Report, 55.7% of people would be interested in exploring eco-friendly burial options.

Traditional burials that include embalming the body can lead to toxic chemicals released into the ground. However, cremation has an environmental toll, including the fuel it takes to cremate the body and the toxins released into the air during the process.

There are some green burial practices available that are more eco-friendly than traditional burials or cremation:

  • Green burial: A fully green burial includes no chemical body preservation and no cremation. The body is buried in a fully biodegradable container that leaves no trace of the body or container after decomposition.
  • Water burial: If your loved one has been cremated, water burial is an excellent option for the ashes. In a water burial, the remains are placed in a biodegradable urn integrated into the water body as it sinks.
  • Tree burial: A tree burial or living urn combines the ashes of your loved one with a young tree or plant that you can plant as a memorial for the deceased.

Save Money on a Funeral by Buying the Casket Online

Final Thoughts

It’s possible to bury an urn on top of a casket in the USA. However, each cemetery has its own rules and regulations regarding double burials. Many other options are available for cremated remains and double burials that may better suit your family.

Be sure to discuss all of the options and associated fees with your funeral director to find the best solution for you and your family.

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Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

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