Personal Finance

How much does a funeral cost? A complete breakdown

The median funeral costs $7,848 for a viewing and burial, while a funeral with cremation costs $6,970.

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Dealing with end-of-life affairs for yourself or a loved one is a challenging and emotional process. Much like you’d put thought and care into saving for a new child or buying your first home, arranging a funeral requires careful planning and financial preparation. Whether you’re organizing your own funeral in advance or making arrangements for someone else, it’s important to be familiar with the expected costs so you can put a financial plan in place.

The national median cost for a funeral with a viewing and burial is $7,848, and it costs $6,971 for a funeral and cremation. Using this guide to funeral costs, you can account for expenses ahead of time by taking steps to budget your costs or purchase a life insurance policy to help with payments. When all the funeral finances are taken care of, you can better navigate the grieving process and your loved ones can shift their focus to celebrating your life.

Funeral costs by state

Although the national median price of a funeral is nearly $8,000, costs can fluctuate based on your location. To help you estimate the cost of a funeral where you live, we’ve broken down the median burial and cremation costs by state for 2021.

 

State

Median burial cost

Median cremation cost

Alabama

$7,271

$6,314

Alaska

$7,225

$6,028

Arizona

$6,888

$5,694

Arkansas

$7,334

$6,405

California

$7,225

$6,028

Colorado

$6,888

$5,694

Connecticut

$7,881

$7,069

Delaware

$7,800

$7,070

Florida

$7,800

$7,070

Georgia

$7,800

$7,070

Hawaii

$7,225

$6,028

Idaho

$6,888

$5,694

Illinois

$7,868

$6,953

Indiana

$7,868

$6,953

Iowa

$8,500

$7,560

Kansas

$8,500

$7,560

Kentucky

$7,271

$6,314

Louisiana

$7,334

$6,405

Maine

$7,881

$7,069

Maryland

$7,800

$7,070

Massachusetts

$7,881

$7,069

Michigan

$7,868

$6,953

Minnesota

$8,500

$7,560

Mississippi

$7,271

$6,314

Missouri

$8,500

$7,560

Montana

$6,888

$5,694

Nebraska

$8,500

$7,560

Nevada

$6,888

$5,694

New Hampshire

$7,881

$7,069

New Jersey

$8,093

$7,463

New Mexico

$6,888

$5,694

New York

$8,093

$7,463

North Carolina

$7,800

$7,070

North Dakota

$8,500

$7,560

Ohio

$7,868

$6,953

Oklahoma

$7,334

$6,405

Oregon

$7,225

$6,028

Pennsylvania

$8,093

$7,463

Rhode Island

$7,881

$7,069

South Carolina

$7,800

$7,070

South Dakota

$8,500

$7,560

Tennessee

$7,271

$6,314

Texas

$7,334

$6,405

Utah

$6,888

$5,694

Vermont

$7,881

$7,069

Virginia

$7,800

$7,070

Washington

$7,225

$6,028

West Virginia

$7,800

$7,070

Wisconsin

$7,868

$6,953

Wyoming

$6,888

$5,694

 

Funeral costs to know

What exactly makes up the cost of a funeral? There are a number of services that factor into the overall cost. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the price of a funeral and burial has risen by nearly 8% in the past five years. As such, each individual funeral expense has also seen an increase in price, with the exception of service vehicles, which stayed the same cost. To see a breakdown of all the common costs involved in a funeral, check out our list of services and average prices below.

 

Common funeral expenses

Funeral service fee:

$2,300

Funeral facilities for viewing:

$450

Funeral facilities for ceremony:

$515

Metal casket:

$2,500

Wood casket:

$3,000

Cremation:

$368

Urn:

$295

Transfer of remains:

$350

Embalming:

$775

Cosmetic services:

$275

Funeral plot:

  • Public cemetery:

$1,500

  • Private cemetery:

$3,500

Headstone or grave marker:

  • Flat:

$1,000

  • Raised:

$3,500

Vault:

$1,572

Hearse:

$325

Service vehicle:

$150

Printed materials:

$183

Flowers:

$600

Wreath:

$150

Funeral service fee:

$2,300

Funeral facilities for viewing:

$450

 

Can life insurance cover funeral costs?

You or your loved ones can ensure that funeral costs will be taken care of by purchasing a life insurance policy. As long as the monthly premiums are paid, the beneficiaries of the policy will receive financial compensation in the form of the death benefit after the policyholder passes. The money that comes from the death benefit can be used to pay for funeral costs or any other outstanding debts, helping to ease any financial burden.

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 How-to-pay-for-a-funeral

 

Other ways to pay for a funeral

Life insurance is only one way to pay for a funeral, although it does typically offer a bigger payout to help cover expenses and is accessible in a timely manner. Find alternative payment options for funerals listed below.

  • Final expense or burial insurance: This type of insurance offers a benefit that is meant to cover any funeral, medical or legal expenses that a beneficiary may be left with after a loved one’s death. This is often a much more affordable insurance option compared to life insurance and may be more accessible than life insurance for elderly individuals. It’s important to note that the benefit for final expense insurance will be significantly less than a life insurance benefit.
  • Payable-on-death (POD) account: A POD account is a specialized savings account that is meant for funeral costs. You can designate someone to have control over the account after you pass, and they will have immediate access to the funds upon showing a valid death certificate.
  • Savings account: A traditional savings account can also be used to put away money for your future funeral costs. Keep in mind that this savings account will be regarded as part of your estate, so the probate process may delay access to these funds after your pass.

Know your rights under The Funeral Rule

Planning a funeral for yourself or a loved one is an emotional experience, and it’s important to not get taken advantage of in the process. The Federal Trade Commission introduced “the Funeral Rule,” which outlines an individual’s rights to only purchase whatever goods and services they need or want for a funeral. We’ve broken down each individual right under the Funeral Rule so that you can familiarize yourself when funeral planning.

Rights under the Funeral Rule:

  • Only purchase funeral arrangements that you want
  • Obtain price information over the phone without disclosing personal information
  • Obtain an itemized General Price List when visiting a funeral home
  • View a written casket price list prior to viewing caskets
  • View a written outer burial container price list
  • Receive a written statement of what you are buying, each itemized cost and the total cost prior to purchase
  • Be provided a written explanation of any legal crematory or cemetery requirements that may require you to buy funeral goods or services
  • Use a different container other than a casket for cremation
  • Provide your own urn or casket that you purchased elsewhere at no additional cost
  • Forgo embalming when making funeral arrangements


Questions to ask a funeral home

Once you know your funeral rights, here’s a list of questions to exercise when necessary:

  • May I request a copy of your General Price List to see the cost of your goods and services?
  • If the casket, urn and outer burial container prices aren’t included in your General Price List, may I also request a list of prices for those items?
  • What are my options regarding viewing, cremation, embalming, memorial services and types of funerals?
  • What options do you have for payment?
  • Do you work with insurance companies for payment?
  • Do you work with final expense or burial insurance?

How to keep funeral costs down

Even if you or your loved one enrolled in a life insurance policy to help pay for the funeral, it’s still important to set a budget for your expenses. To help prevent both financial and emotional overspending, try some of the tips detailed below.


Get price lists from multiple funeral homes

As with any big purchase, you’ll want to shop around for funeral services. In the same way that you’d get multiple dealer quotes when buying a car, it’s smart to contact several funeral homes and ask for price lists from each.

Funeral homes are required by law to give you this information if you request it, so make sure you’re exercising this right. Once you’ve gathered your options, you can compare prices and choose whichever goods and services are the most affordable for you.

Opt for cremation

When it comes to funeral services, cremation is typically cheaper than a burial. If you or the person you’re planning for don’t have a preference, opting for cremation can help save hundreds of dollars depending on where your funeral is located.

Shop for your own urn or casket

The key to keeping your funeral costs low is to compare prices not only for funeral services, but for goods like an urn or casket, too. You have every right to purchase a casket or urn from a third party and request that your funeral home use it instead of buying one that doesn’t fit your needs or budget. By shopping for your own funeral items, you or your family can save thousands of dollars while also creating a memorable and meaningful experience for your loved ones.

Forgo embalming

Not all states require routine embalming, so you can eliminate this cost altogether by forgoing embalming. Embalming costs about $800 on average, so you can choose refrigeration as a preservation method or skip preservation and opt for immediate burial or cremation. Keep in mind that some states will require embalming if the deceased is not cremated or buried within a certain time frame, but this is not a requirement everywhere.

Use a private residence for the memorial service

Funeral homes charge you for services and staff if you use their facilities for a viewing or memorial. Instead of purchasing these services, a cheaper and more meaningful alternative would be to have your memorial at a private residence.

If you’re able to, pick a private place that has meaning and hold the funeral ceremony there. After the ceremonies have taken place, the funeral home will take care of the burial. You can also save money by using easily personalized memorial service program templates.

Look into government benefits

Depending on eligibility, you may be entitled to government benefits to contribute toward funeral expenses. Look into the following benefits to see if you qualify for funeral assistance.

  • Military benefits: Surviving family of a servicemember may receive a burial allowance of up to $300 for a non-service-related death or up to $2,000 for a service-related death.
  • Social Security benefits: A surviving spouse or child may be eligible to receive a lump-sum payment of $255 after a loved one’s death.
  • FEMA assistance: For those that have lost a family member due to COVID-19, FEMA is providing funeral assistance. Please check eligibility requirements before applying.

Consider an eco-friendly burial

Choosing a green burial or funeral is another way to save money and reduce your impact on the Earth at the end of your life. The median price for a biodegradable casket is $1,500 — thousands of dollars cheaper than a wooden or metal one. If you’re interested in this type of funeral, you can look for green funeral items, cemeteries or funeral homes on the Green Burial Council’s website.

What to do if you can’t afford a funeral

The cost of a funeral in today’s world is rising, and it’s an expense that can come as a shock to loved ones who are grieving. A low-cost funeral option for many families is either a direct burial or cremation. These options mean that the deceased is buried or cremated immediately, with no embalming. Because of the nature of these funerals, no visitation is possible. A direct burial or cremation will be several thousands of dollars cheaper than a traditional type of funeral.

Just like we plan for the joyous occasions in life, it’s important to carefully consider a plan for final celebrations too. Make sure you prevent your loved ones from experiencing additional financial and emotional burden after you pass by planning for your funeral costs while you’re still here.

A funeral can end up costing your family nearly $8,000, but a life insurance policy can help with expenses and ease the burden after loss. If you’re preparing funeral arrangements for a loved one, make sure you look into whether or not they had a policy or some other financial plan like a payable-on-death account. Once the funeral expenses are taken care of, loved ones can focus on cherishing their memories.

 

Sources: National Funeral Directors’ Association 1 2 | Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage

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