What is the Average Cost of a Funeral?

After the death of a loved one, the cost of a funeral is an often unexpected and unwelcome surprise. Charges include the casket, urn, burial plot, obituaries, and even more. While there are many online calculators, many do not consider the small expenses that can add up quickly. 

Certain life insurance policies and final expense insurance can cover funeral costs. Below is a guide for how much people are expected to pay out of pocket after a loved one passes.

Overall Average Cost

The National Funeral Directors Association breaks down the average cost of funerals. They estimate that the average funeral can cost about $7,360 and increase to $8,755 if you include a vault in your burial plans. Additionally, some people prefer funerals with burials, while others prefer cremations. The costs associated with each are different, but funerals with burials are generally more expensive. 

Funeral with Burial

Depending on the materials you choose, such as a casket, the funeral home, and other costs, the funeral costs associated with burials can cost about $7,640 without a vault and over $9,000 with a vault. Below is a break down provided by the National Funeral Directors Association.

  • Nondeclinable basic services fee: $2,195
  • Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home: $350
  • Embalming: $750
  • Other preparation of the body: $255
  • Use of facilities for viewing: $425
  • Use of facilities for funeral ceremony: $500
  • Hearse: $340
  • Service car/van: $150
  • Printed materials: $175
  • Metal burial casket: $2,500

All of these costs are variable, depending on your location and materials. For example, a casket can cost anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 on average and be as high as $10,000. If your loved one requested a vault, the vault costs $1,495. Note that the above break down does not include the plot, the grave opening and closing fee, flowers, etc. 

Funeral with Cremation

A funeral with cremation is slightly less expensive than a funeral with a burial. This is because it requires fewer materials than a burial. Without a cremation casket and urn, the total cost is around $5,150. With the casket and urn, the cost is $6,645 on average. Below is a breakdown.

  • Nondeclinable basic services fee: $2,195
  • Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home: 3$50
  • Embalming: $750
  • Other preparation of the body: $255
  • Use of facilities for viewing: $425
  • Use of facilities for funeral ceremony: $500
  • Hearse: $340
  • Service car/van: $150
  • Printed materials: $175
  • Cremation fee if using a third party: $350
  • Cremation casket: $1,200
  • Cremation urn: $295

Like the costs associated with burials, the above breakdown does not include all of the unexpected expenses associated with funerals. While mostly optional, these costs are expected with many funerals and can add up quickly. 

Unexpected Small Costs

The unexpected costs include flowers, obituaries, the grave plot, and monument marker for a burial funeral, and more. Each of these costs is noted below.  

Flowers

  • People often donate flowers as gifts during a time of loss. If you had to buy funeral flowers out-of-pocket, however, expect to pay $500-$700. For a burial, the wreaths that are laid on the casket often cost between $100-$200 each. 

Obituaries

  • An obituary is a common way to make people aware of your loved one’s passing, communicate details about their funeral, and to celebrate the accomplishments of their life. Each newspaper charges by the line. Shorter obituaries cost about $200 while longer obituaries cost about $500. On average, most people pay about $450. 

Grave Plot

  • For people who prefer a funeral with a burial, an unexpected and large cost is the grave plot’s cost. While many people buy these in advance of their passing, some families are left with the cost. On average, grave plots cost $1,000-$4,000 depending on area. There is also a cost associated with opening and closing grave for the funeral. On average, opening and closing a plot costs $1,000.

Monument/Marker

  • Another hefty cost associated with funerals with burials is the cost of the gravestone, otherwise referred to as the monument. These typically cost around $2,000-$5,000 for an upright marker. They cost about $1,000 if lying flat. Stone and bronze are the cheapest materials. Some funeral homes include markers in the cost, so be sure to check with the funeral home before purchasing a marker. 

Church Service Donation

  • Depending on your faith, some people may choose to have a funeral service in their church or place of worship. Typically, places of worship do not charge for funeral services. Instead, it is customary to donate to the church. These donations can range but are often around $50-$200.

Reception

  • Many people have end-of-life celebrations, often referred to as a reception or a memorial service. Some people choose to have them at family members’ homes while others choose to have them at a banquet hall or restaurant. The costs associated with the reception depend on the location, food cost, and the number of people attending the celebration. Generally, the food for a post-funeral reception costs about $400-700 with additional cost depending on the venue.

How to Pay for These Costs in Advance

There are multiple ways to offset the cost of a funeral in advance. Consumers have the option to pay in advance, called a pre-paid or pre-need funeral plan. In a regulated trust plan, you sign a contract with one funeral home. They will then place your money into an interest-bearing trust account. Upon your funeral, they use the funds you provided to pay for your funeral. Another way to plan ahead is to buy a life insurance plan that includes funeral burial rights. Lastly, final expense insurance is a type of life insurance plan that is specifically targeted towards funeral expenses. 

What Can You Do?

The cost of a funeral is another burden that family members suffer through after the death of a loved one. The average funeral costs about $8,000 but can easily double depending on the optional costs associated with end-of-life celebrations. There are ways to prepare your loved ones for costs associated with your passing, such as life insurance, final expenses insurance, and pre-need funeral plans. Plan ahead by preparing your family’s finances now.