Burial Vaults and Grave Liners
A burial necessity, but not necessarily an expense
While funeral planning you'll run into a lot of information regarding burial vaults and grave liners. The purpose of a burial vault is to prevent the ground from caving in once it has settled. Burial vaults can vary wildly in price, from as little as $200 to upwards of $10 000 US . The purchase that most practically fills this need is a concrete grave liner that need not cost any more than $400.
There are very few states that actually require a liner, though the cemetery and funeral home may not tell you this. Some cemeteries will require you to buy a liner or burial vault in order to keep the costs of maintenance down. This is a fair requirement, as long as they're up front about the fact that it's their own stipulation. If you don't wish to buy a grave liner or burial vault, you can shop around for a cemetery that doesn't require them.
Burial Vaults vs. Grave Liners
A burial vault, which encases the entire casket, is bigger, stronger and more expensive than a grave liner, and it generally comes with a warranty. Neither kind of burial container will prevent the decay of your loved one's remains; any cemetery or funeral provider that makes this promise, or hints that it is possible, isn't being honest. Burial vaults and liners only protect the casket and keep the ground around it solid.
You should be able to shop around for a burial container. The Federal Funeral Rule requires that funeral homes or cemetery owners provide you with a complete list of prices and descriptions. You are allowed to buy a burial container from third party sellers. If the cemetery tells you that this will cost extra, shop around for a cemetery that will charge less or nothing at all to allow a lower cost burial container to be brought in.
Darryl Roberts is a vocal critic of the funeral industry. He despairs at the industry's attitude toward burial vaults. In his testimony before the Senate, Roberts warned of funeral homes that lead consumers to believe sealed vaults somehow protect the remains of the deceased. He also criticized members of the funeral industry who push expensive burial vaults when much cheaper grave liners will do just as well.
Expensive sealed burial vaults are one of the biggest swindles to be found in the burial industry. Most insiders even admit that they actually create more of a mess than any other containers. They don't allow the remains to properly dry, as they would under normal conditions. There is very little reason to buy a sealed vault in place of a grave liner.
Why Vaults and Liners are Used
Vaults or liners are necessary because the ground moves and settles as the casket eventually decays. Wood placed into the ground will decay in a matter of months in some climates, and certainly after a few years almost anywhere. Caskets made of more durable material may last longer, but also eventually break down; a vault or liner will keep the ground around the casket sturdy. When funeral planning, approach the subject of burial vaults and grave liners with the knowledge that nothing can prevent a casket from decaying.