What Does the Average Funeral Cost?
After a loved one passes away, you may be shocked to learn about all of the costs associated with
funerals, burials, and memorial services.
Losing a loved one is devastating enough without taking on a surprising financial burden. Knowing
what the average funeral costs will help you make sure you’re not being overcharged at a time when you’re vulnerable.
Why Does a Funeral Cost So Much?
In the United States, the average funeral costs about $9,000. But where does all that money go?
There are a few different aspects of funeral services that cost money.
All of the costs associated with end of life and burial are covered by the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule. This rule allows funeral homes and funeral directors to charge a fee for their services. It also requires that these same institutions give you an itemized list of every charge before you commit to using their services.
The list may look a little different depending on religious affiliation, state and local laws, and personal preferences, but below are the most common costs associated with end of life and burial processes.
Paperwork and Legal Processing
The basic fee that funeral directors charge falls into the category of paperwork and legal processing.
This fee covers the administrative aspects of a funeral, including legally registering the death, getting the death certificate, getting any permits needed for burial, and any planning help the funeral director gives.
The basic fee is for services that aren’t optional. Depending on the state you are in and the funeral home you choose, this fee can be anywhere from $200 to $1000.
Optional services include preparing the decedent for a viewing or a wake. If you want a viewing, that may require embalming or other body preparation services to make the decedent presentable. Body preparation costs can cost as much as $500 or $600.
How you are going to bury your loved one also impacts what kind of preparation the body needs.
Green funerals or cremations without a viewing typically need less preparation than a standard burial with a viewing.
The cost of a casket or an urn will also have a big impact on the final cost of the funeral. An ornate
casket can cost over $4000. Alternatively, a handmade urn for cremains can cost very little.
Transportation, Storage, and Logistics
Another variable cost is the logistical aspect. Transporting and storing the body can be relatively
expensive if you need to move the body more than once or store it for more than a few days. These
costs will also vary based on where you live, and how far you are from the burial site. You should
expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars on these services.
Burial Costs vs. Ceremony Costs
The final cost will be the cost of the ceremony and burial. These expenses are also incredibly
variable. The average funeral home cost for a viewing, memorial service, and burial is about $3000.
If you opt for a religious ceremony rather than going through the funeral home, it may cost less
depending on the church. Many have their own fee schedules for funerals.
The average cremation cost is much lower, starting at around $500. This only covers the cremation,
however, and not the cost of a burial plot. If you’re going to scatter your loved one’s ashes, or keep them, then you won’t need a plot.
Planning the Right Funeral
Even though the average funeral is expensive, not every funeral has to be pricey. Knowing what
makes them expensive gives you the information you need to make the right choices for you and your loved ones.
For other helpful tips, check out the Lifestyle section of our blog.