The Complete Guide to Funeral Costs

Funerals can be very expensive.

Many people do not realize this until someone close to them passes away. Dealing with funeral expenses in the midst of mourning someone’s death can make the loss feel even more painful and difficult for those who have been left behind.

It’s important for you to be aware of the expenses involved in a funeral before the time to organize a funeral comes. 

Read on to learn more about funeral costs in this informative post so you can be prepared for them in the future.

The Overall Cost of a Funeral

Funeral costs vary from state to state, but there are few places in the United States where the average cost is under $7,000. In several states, the average cost is over $10,000. 

Of course, it’s possible to conduct a funeral on a budget, but most of us will spend at least the average when saying goodbye to a loved one. Elaborate funerals can cost far more than the average as well.

The high cost of funeral expenses can be overwhelming. If possible, it’s wise to save money for your funeral while you can so those you care about don’t end up getting stuck with the bill when you have passed on.

Basic Funeral Costs

When it comes time to plan a funeral, you may be surprised at the many different things that need to be selected, organized, and paid for. Most of these costs are or can be arranged through the funeral home. However, if you are planning your own funeral in advance of your death, you may instead opt to work with and coordinate individual vendors for different things.

The Funeral Rule

First, there are several basic costs that you’ll have to pay when organizing a funeral. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule, you have the right to choose only the services and goods that are wanted and needed. There should be no hidden costs in the funeral planning process. This is true if you are planning a funeral in advance of your own death or if someone else is making arrangements for you after you have died. 

Because of this rule, you should never feel pressured to buy a package that includes things that you don’t need, and funeral directors must be completely transparent when quoting funeral costs. A funeral home should provide you with a written, itemized price list before you make any decisions. 

However, keep in mind that this rule does not apply to third-party sellers like casket dealers and independent cemeteries; it only applies to funeral homes.

Basic Services Fee

One of the items on your funeral quote will be a basic services fee. This includes the funeral planning session with the funeral director, the acquisition of necessary permits, copies of the death certificate, the sheltering of the remains, and the coordination of the arrangements with the cemetery or crematorium.

As mentioned above, the basic services fee should be itemized and clear. Funeral homes are not allowed to include any hidden fees. What you pay for and what you get for the money you paid should be absolutely clear.


A large portion of the cost of a funeral is the casket. Caskets can cost as little as $2,000 or as much as $10,000 or more. If you are buying your casket from the funeral home, the Funeral Rule still applies. A funeral director must show you a list of the caskets and their prices before showing you the actual caskets they have for sale. If you choose to buy the casket elsewhere, the funeral home must allow you to use it anyway at no additional cost to you.

If you or your loved one is being cremated, you can often rent a casket from the funeral home for the showing. You won’t need a casket for the burial in the case of cremation, but you will need to purchase an inexpensive, simple container for the cremation itself and an urn or other container for the cremated remains if you wish to have them returned to you or your family members.


Not every funeral includes a viewing or visitation, but if you are, most funeral homes require embalming. This is another necessary cost and usually averages around $500-700. 

However, embalming isn’t always necessary. If the body is being buried or cremated quickly, it is not required. If a funeral director tells you that embalming is required by law, that is a violation of the Funeral Rule; it isn’t in any state.

If the deceased is being buried and did not purchase a cemetery plot prior to his or her passing, this is another funeral cost. The nationwide average cost of a burial plot is around $1,000, but it can be less or even much more depending on the cemetery.

When someone is cremated, there is often a big savings on the cost of the casket, but additional costs will be incurred when it comes time for the cremation itself. According to the Cremation Association of North America, the average cost of a cremation is $2,250.

Another cost to remember is the cost of the headstone or monument. Whether the deceased is put to rest in a casket or if his or her cremated remains will be buried, one will be necessary. A simple, standard, flat headstone is only about $1,000, but more elaborate headstones and monuments can cost many thousands of dollars. 

Additional costs for funerals will also include transportation and use of the hearse. You’ll also have to pay the cemetery for the burial itself. 

How to Save Money on Funeral Costs

It’s tempting to overspend on a funeral and on the other related costs. However, be careful not to let your emotions take charge. It’s possible for a funeral to be very affordable if you take your time and make wise decisions. 

Remember, you don’t have to go with the first funeral home you visit. Take the time to consult with several so you can comparison shop.

If you or your loved one will be buried or cremated without a viewing, you can save a great deal of money. The body will not have to be embalmed. You also do not have to take advantage of the funeral home’s visitation services in that case.

Be Prepared

Funeral costs can add up quickly. Now that you know about the extensive costs involved when someone passes, it’s time to start planning. Making arrangements before you pass is a responsible choice, but not everyone can do so. If you are planning for your own funeral or for the funeral of a loved one, please contact us today. We’re here to help.