How Much Does A Funeral Cost?

How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

Average Funeral Cost

It’s something often not thought of until it’s too late to prepare and the topic is less than fun to discuss, but it’s vital to understand the costs of the average funeral. Whether you’re looking to purchase a pre-paid funeral plan or trying to plan a funeral for a family member or friend who has recently passed, there are many expenses to consider. To be sure you’re covered, get your free Burial Insurance quote, completely free today.

In 2016, the average funeral cost for a traditional burial service is around $8,000. This includes embalming, viewing, burial, hearse, remains transfer, service fee, and other common funeral cost expenses. This is a good starting point to consider, but you may find your costs vary depending on the services and merchandise purchased. Take a look at our funeral cost breakdown and consider your options.

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Understanding The Funeral Rule

Because the funeral industry is saturated with varied funeral homes and service options, there are standardizations in place to protect the interests of the consumer during an already difficult time.

Under The Funeral Rule, funeral providers are allowed to charge basic services fees that customers must pay. The Funeral Rule is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and is designed to ensure that you and your loved ones choose only the services and goods you want or need. It stipulates that you only need to pay for those you select, regardless if you’re planning a prepaid funeral or arranging a funeral after a loved one’s passing.

It’s important to understand your basic rights as guaranteed under this rule to ensure your funeral cost is fair. These are the basic

  • Buy only the Funeral Arrangements you want: This stipulation ensures you’re not required to buy a package deal that may include items or services you don’t need or desire.
  • Pricing on the Phone: When asked, funeral directors must provide price information over the phone.
  • Itemized Price List: When you visit a funeral home, the funeral director should provide you with a funeral prices list, legally known as a General Price List (GPL). It should list all of the merchandise and services offered at the funeral home.
  • Casket Price List: Funeral homes don’t always display the lowest priced caskets, but they should provide a casket price list, if it’s not included on the GPL.
  • Outer Burial Container Price List: There’s no state that requires an outer burial container, but many cemeteries do require them as it can prevent the grave from caving in. If the funeral home in question provides outer burial containers but don’t list their price on the GPL, you can ask for a separate outer burial container price list.
  • Receive a Written Statement Before you Pay: After you’ve decided which services and merchandise you want, the funeral director or funeral home employees should provide you with a written statement that details exactly what you’re buying and the cost of each item. You must receive this immediately after arrangements are made.
  • Written Statement about Legal Cemetery or Crematory Requirements: The funeral home must provide you with a written statement that describes any legal requirements that facilitate the purchase of any services or merchandise.
  • Alternative Container in Case of Cremation: You are not required by state or local law to use a casket for cremation.Any funeral home that offers cremation must provide you with alternative containers if asked; these are often made of inexpensive materials, including cardboard, pressed wood, or unfinished wood.
  • Buy a Casket or Urn Somewhere Else: The funeral director or funeral home can’t refuse to use an urn or casket bought elsewhere, or charge you more for the use.
  • No Embalming Required: No state law requires embalming in every death, although some states do require embalming or refrigeration if the body isn’t buried or cremated within a certain time span. If you choose services like immediate burial or direct cremation, preservation isn’t necessary or required. Some funeral homes may enforce regulations about embalming when the body is available for public viewing, but this isn’t required by law usually.

The Basic Services Fee

Funeral cost can depend on a variety of factors, but generally, the first portion of funeral expenses is in the services. This basic services fee includes services generally found in all funerals, regardless of arrangement; funeral planning arrangements, permits and copies of a death certificate, notice preparation, and shelter of remains are all included. While all funeral homes charge this fee, the actual amount can range from place to place.

Keep in mind that this fee will be compounded with the cost of other services you’ll likely need to add. These may include charges for optional expenditures, like transporting the remains, choosing from embalming options, hosting a viewing or memorial service, or using a hearse or limousine, along with many other costs. Families and friends of their passed loved one have a variety of service options to choose from, and these varied options can range greatly in cost. From immediate final disposition including cremation and burial without rites and ceremonies to traditional burial services including viewing and visitation the day prior to burial, there are many options to consider.

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Funeral Cost: Burial or Cremation

Cremation vs Burial cost

One of the first things you must choose between, whether you’re arranging the funeral of a loved one or purchasing a pre-paid funeral plan for yourself, are a traditional funeral service and cremation service.

Traditional Funeral

Traditional burials include viewings and internment services, and tend to be the costlier of the two options.


Should you choose a traditional funeral, you’ll need to purchase a casket and outer burial container, which can make up a bulk of the overall funeral cost. A casket is necessary for viewing and services in which the body is present. If cremation immediately follows the visitation or funeral service, loved ones may choose to rent a casket, which can be less expensive than purchasing.

How much does a casket cost? A casket can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Typically, a casket is constructed of wood, metal, fiberboard, plastic, or fiberglass. While the average cost of a wood or metal casket can range around $2,000, higher priced options made of mahogany or copper can sell for almost $10,000.


If the body is not buried right after death or you will have viewing services, embalming costs can range around $400 to $700.


You’ll likely need to pay a bevy of transportation costs, including transferring the person who has died to the funeral home, then to the crematory or cemetery from the funeral service site. If you plan on using a limousine for the funeral procession or hire a utility van, you’ll likely pay a few hundred dollars more.

Cemetery Costs

Cemetery costs can make up a significant portion of money spent on a traditional funeral, and include the following:

  • Internment Costs: This refers to the purchasing of a burial plot or mausoleum space. This gives you the right to be buried in a place, or to designate the burial of a loved one in that spot.
  • Opening and Closing: This charge includes digging and filling the grave, and in many cases includes securing the right permits, maintaining legal files, using a casket lower device, and keeping records.
  • Burial Vaults: Also known as outer burial containers, vaults and liners are required by cemeteries to help protect the earth around the casket.
  • Headstone Installation: Whether you purchase a grave marker or head stone from the cemetery or another source, you may be charged an installation fee.


Cremation has become a popular route for funeral services across the country. If you plan on cremation, overall funeral cost will be greatly decreased. How much does a funeral cost with cremation? That varies. The cost of cremation generally ranges between $2,000 and $4,000, but you could pay more or less depending on whether you book through a funeral home or crematory.

Direct Cremation

Direct cremation means having the body cremated immediately following death, without having a funeral beforehand. This option means skipping visitation or viewing, and this can greatly decrease the cost. If you choose to have a viewing however, you’ll be required to pay for embalming or refrigeration to keep the body preserved until the cremation service.

Cremation Container

A casket is not required for cremation, but it is needed for viewing. If there will be no memorial service or traditional funeral, you can use a simple cardboard container, that can cost anywhere from $50 to hundreds of dollars. You may choose to purchase an urn, which can range from hundreds of dollars to $1,000.

Cremation Remains

You may choose to store the urn containing remains in your home, scatter them, or informally bury them. If you choose to inter the urn in a burial plot, columbarium, or vault, the cost generally rises by about $1,000.

Burial Cost vs Cremation cost

What is a cash advance fee?

These fees are charged by the funeral home for any merchandise or services it may purchase from outside vendors on your behalf. This can include obituary notices in the local paper, hiring clergy or music performers, and flowers. 

Words of Advice

Always be sure to read through the funeral contract thoroughly after making funeral arrangements, and never make a funeral payment before receiving a written statement of the services that will be rendered.  It takes a great deal of time and often emotional strife to plan a funeral, but it’s important to take your time and consider all options available to keep funeral cost low.

Making tough funeral decisions during a difficult time can feel impossible. It’s important to have solid understanding about the funeral cost you may face when making funeral arrangements. If you’re worried about handling the average funeral cost as presented, funeral cost insurance can help you handle the expenses required for the burial or cremation of your choice. offers a variety of options, ensuring you find the right insurance policy for you, a family member or friend.

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