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You Can Rest in Peace After Choosing Your Burial Option

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January 31, 2002|CHRISTINE FREY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It is quite possibly the last thing you will ever need to buy online.

For those who want to avoid the unpleasant trip to the funeral home, Internet funeral services offer a range of burial options online, from pet caskets to mausoleums.

Though perhaps a little impersonal, sites such as www.urnsand caskets.com and www.casket andurn.com (yes there is a difference) may help you with that one purchase that will last for all eternity.

Besides, at least one site (www.richardlamb.com) offers "live help" in the form of an online chat.

Webcaskets

One of the biggest online funeral services, Webcaskets boasts hundreds of caskets at www.web caskets.com.

Its collection, which starts at $50 for a cardboard cremation casket and runs to $11,000 for a solid walnut casket with velvet interior, includes a range of burial options.

Although the site carries traditional caskets, it features a number of "art caskets," painted caskets that bear such images as the Last Supper, the Irish flag and the postal stamp "Return to Sender." One casket, called "Final Lap," depicts a black-and-white checkered flag waving on cars at a race.

"Cool caskets for cool people," the product description notes.

Despite its name, Webcasksets also sells urns--wood, ceramic, metal and marble--starting at less than $100. In addition to boasting discounted casket prices, Webcaskets advertises several special offers:

* Order a casket and receive a 10% discount on other merchandise (flowers, markers, etc.) purchased for the same person.

* Buy matching urns and receive a 5% discount.

* And show your AARP membership card and receive a 2% discount.

Based in Newport Beach, Webcaskets does not charge shipping for most caskets delivered in California. Residents of other states must pay $45 to $195 depending on location and priority. (Some casket prices include shipping fees.)

Caskets and urns might be delivered the next day, depending on availability and shipping destination.

Classic Urns

Although most online funeral services carry a small selection of urns, some sites specialize in them.

Classic Urns, for example, offers a wide--and somewhat weird--variety of urns, including those shaped as golf clubs ($799), a mallard ($799), and cowboy boots ($535).

The site, at www.classicurns .com, includes regular ground shipping in its urn prices. Overnight shipping is an additional $49.95 and second-day shipping is an additional $29.95.

Casket Gallery

Casket Gallery boasts more than three dozen caskets for less than $3,000. As the site advertises, "A funeral doesn't have to bury you in debt!"

The site, at www.casketgallery .com, also sells urns, most of which cost less than $1,000.

Shipping costs for caskets vary. Urns cost $15 to ship. In addition to its merchandise, Casket Gallery includes a "cyberspace memorial" on the site.

Our Pals

Though the majority of online funeral services handle human deaths, a number cater specifically to animal deaths.

Our Pals, at www.ourpals.com, offers pet-sized caskets made of double-walled styrene plastic starting at $76.

Urns, in a variety of materials, start at less than $50.

The company, which began when the owner's Irish setter died, strives to preserve the image of a beloved pet.

So if the urn with porcelain figurine of Spot (the site offers 90 breeds of dog and cat to choose from) isn't enough, you can send the company a picture of your pet and an artist will engrave the image on a wood urn. Or better yet, on an ostrich egg shell.

Christine Frey covers personal technology. She can be reached at christine.frey@latimes.com.

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