Funeral Costs

A guide to the costs involved when you are planning a funeral

Last updated: 1 February 2017

The cost of a funeral varies depending on location, the circumstance of the death and your requirements for the funeral.

The average cost of a burial funeral is around $7,180, according to life insurer Sun Asset, although the average amount spent by U.S. families is up to $10,000. It puts the median cost of a cremation at $6,078. This will, of course, vary depending on your specific choices, circumstances and love one’s wishes.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule gives you certain consumer rights, when it comes to identifying how to spend your money. To help you make the right decisions, you can can ask a funeral home to talk you through the options available to you and costs involved. They will also give you a General Price List, which you can take home to consider.

The value of investing in the experience of a registered funeral home to support you when you are planning a funeral cannot be underestimated.

The costs can be separated into three categories:

  • Funeral home fees. A basic fee covers the funeral home services provided, such as securing the necessary permits and copies of the death certificate, making the arrangements for the funeral, preparing notices and liaising with third parties, such as the cemetery or crematory.
  • ‘Optional’ goods and services, including your choice of burial casket, embalming your loved one if you wish, hosting viewings for family and friends. This also includes transport and support at the memorial service, and the cremation or burial plot.
  • Other payments. Your funeral home could advance these to third party suppliers for your choice of floral tributes, obituary notices, pallbearers and officiating clergy.

To find a local funeral director that meets your needs, visit our funeral home listings page.

If your loved one had insurance which will help towards the cost of their funeral, the insurer will require a copy of the death certificate.

Burial costs

If you choose a burial, or to inter your loved one in a mausoleum, there are various cost factors to consider. You can learn more about burial funerals and costs in our guide.

Just like real estate, cemeteries and memorial gardens can be in high demand in growing communities, or located in exclusive neighborhoods, which is considered in the cost of burial. Average burial costs start between around $1,500 and $2,500 for a plot, which usually includes interment rights – giving you the exclusive right to its designation.

Other costs must also be considered and can add to burial costs totaling between around $4,000 and $10,000. These include a fee for opening, lining and closing the grave, the cost of a headstone or grave marker and installing it. In some states, you an up-front endowment fee, which goes towards the cost of maintaining the cemetery grounds.

Cremation costs

Cremation is generally cheaper than burial. Almost half of people arranging a funeral in the U.S. chose cremation in 2015 and the figure is steadily increasing.

Cremation funerals

The average cremation funeral costs $2,500 to $4,000 and a funeral home can help you plan a full funeral service, according to your wishes.

After the funeral, the crematorium will provide a temporary cardboard or plastic urn containing the ashes, but this simple container can be upgraded to a more elegant alternative. Similarly, if you wish to bury the ashes, special caskets are available.

Ashes can be buried in a cemetery plot or urn garden, or sealed within a niche of a columbarium. The fees can vary on average from $300 to $2,000, depending on the location of the plot and of the remembrance garden itself.

Some people find scattering gardens an attractive option. A fee applies and you can opt to memorialize your loved one with a plaque.

Costs may also apply if the ashes are scattered within a cemetery or over an existing grave where another loved one is buried, while an interment fee will be required if you wish to inter a burial urn alongside their casket.

As a rule, you do not need special permission to scatter ashes on your own private land, but should seek the permission of the owner or authority that looks after any public place, such as a national park, that was special to your loved one.

Things you may want to consider:

  • Did your loved one leave pre-need written instructions about their own funeral arrangements?
  • Did they have a life insurance policy or a pre-funded funeral plan arrangement with a funeral home?
  • Did they serve in the military, or were they the spouse or dependent child of someone who did? Veterans are entitled to a free burial and grave marker in a national cemetery.