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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Funerals > Funeral

Funeral Cost


How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

 
low costDirect Burial: $700-$2,400average costDirect Cremation: $1,000-$9,000+high costFull-Service Funeral Package: $6,000-$15,000+
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Total funeral costs can refer to not just the ceremony but also to all the products and services that can add thousands of dollars to the process of paying final respects to a loved one.

Typical costs:

  • Funeral homes and mortuaries must offer an "immediate burial" or "direct burial" package without a ceremony, although a small graveside service might be included. The body is buried in a simple container shortly after death, with no viewing. This costs $700-$2,400, not including the cemetery plot ($200-$5,000) and internment fees ($350-$3,000 for opening and closing the grave), bringing total expenses to $1,250-$10,400. See How Much Does a Gravesite Cost.
  • A direct cremation package consists of simple containers for the body and ashes; and no viewing, embalming or funeral service. It typically averages $1,000-$2,500 when purchased from a funeral home, mortuary or crematory. Cremation plus a full traditional funeral package, including embalming and visitation, can cost $2,000-$9,000 or more (not including the gravesite and internment fees). See How Much Does Cremation Cost.
  • Although funeral homes and mortuaries usually offer funeral "packages" with standard services and products included, federal law allows consumers to pick just the items they want. However, funeral homes and mortuaries are allowed to charge a basic fee to cover staff time for consultations and other expenses. Also called a minimum or professional services charge, this basic fee can range from $700-$2,000 depending on the location and company.
  • Total costs for a traditional full-service funeral package -- with a viewing or visitation, a formal funeral service, a hearse to transport the body, plus burial, entombment or cremation -- start around $6,000-$9,000 but can easily increase to $10,000-$15,000 or more, depending on what's included.
  • Charges that can raise the total funeral costs if not included in a package are fees for washing and dressing the body ($95-$400); embalming ($200-$700); using the funeral home and staff for a viewing or visitation ($100-$1,200) and funeral or memorial service ($100-$1,100 or more); limousines or other vehicles to transport family members ($125-$500 and up depending on size and distance); an escorted funeral procession ($450-$1,800) and a more elaborate casket ($900-$10,000 and up) or other container.
  • Items not typically included in average funeral costs include a How Much Does a Gravesite Cost ($200-$5,000); a grave liner or burial vault ($400-$5,000 or more), if required by the cemetery; and if above-ground burial is desired, a crypt in a mausoleum ($3,000-$30,000 in a community building or $25,000-$500,000 or more for a private mausoleum). These can bring total expenses to $6,000-$15,000 for a typical funeral and burial, or $11,000-$35,000 or more for high-end top-of-the-line materials and services.
Related articles: Gravesites, Casket, Funeral Service, Funeral Processions, Estate Planning

What should be included:
  • CaregiversLibrary.org presents a funeral planning checklist[1] , and the nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance of Vermont provides a pamphlet listing common funeral myths[2] .
  • The Federal Trade Commission offers a detailed Consumer Guide for Funerals[3] .
  • A coalition of funeral homes in Rochester, New York, provides an overview of funeral etiquette[4] for guests and the bereaved.
Additional costs:
  • There can be additional fees for outside services such as a published newspaper obituary (from free to several hundred dollars, depending on the publication), additional death certificates ($5-$25 a copy), flowers (averages $400-$500 for a floral package), or other items. If not included in a package, memorial cards/programs can cost $20-$50, a guest register can be $17-$170 and acknowledgment/thank you cards can be $10-$50.
  • Be aware of time limits. Most funeral homes or mortuaries allow up to an hour of viewing or visitation before a funeral service, and charge $100-$200 an hour for additional time.
  • Honorariums for an officiate/celebrant to lead a funeral or memorial service, or for musicians such as an organist, harpist or bagpiper, can run $50-$250 each, depending on local rates and the person's relationship to the bereaved family.
Discounts:
  • All veterans who served honorably in any of the United States military services (and their eligible dependents) are entitled to free burial in a national cemetery, a free grave marker (in any cemetery) and a U.S. flag. The nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance provides an overview of potential veterans benefits[5] . Details about eligibility are available from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • The nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance provides tips for saving on funeral costs[6] .
  • If the deceased qualified for Social Security benefits, a surviving spouse (or a dependent child if there is no surviving spouse) might be eligible for a special $255 death benefit from Social Security[7] .
Shopping for a funeral:
  • Each funeral home is required to provide a general price list. The nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance explains how to read a funeral home price list[8] , including potential pitfalls.
  • The nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance provides an overview of body and organ donations[9] .
  • Funeral or memorial societies are nonprofit educational organizations that may have negotiated a member discount with local funeral homes. Find a local society through the affiliates directory[10] of the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
  • Funeral homes and mortuaries generally offer the same service at similar prices, but funeral homes do not offer cremation on site and in most places mortuaries can offer on-site cremation. Search for local companies with the National Funeral Directors Association or Selected Independent Funeral Homes[11] , or at TheFuneralSite.com. Check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau[12] .
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External Resources:
  1.  www.caregiverslibrary.org/Portals/0/FuneralPlanningChecklist.pdf
  2.  www.funerals.org/faq/52-common-funeral-myths
  3.  www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0070-shopping-funeral-services
  4.  www.rochesterfuneralhomes.com/Resource_Guides/Funeral_Etiquette.html
  5.  www.funerals.org/frequently-asked-questions/general/60-veterans-funeral-and-burial-bene...
  6.  www.funerals.org/frequently-asked-questions/funeral-arrangements/66-ten-tips-for-saving...
  7.  www.ssa.gov/survivorplan/ifyou7.htm
  8.  www.funerals.org/frequently-asked-questions/funeral-arrangements/28-arrangements/47-how...
  9.  www.funerals.org/frequently-asked-questions/body-organ-donation/69-body-and-organ-donat...
  10.  www.funerals.org/affiliates-directory
  11.  www.selectedfuneralhomes.org/
  12.  www.bbb.org/us/Find-Business-Reviews/
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