A basic funeral and burial in the United States, including embalming, casket, funeral services, use of the funeral home, hearse, grave liner, burial, and flowers, is estimated to cost between 5,500 to 7,500 dollars. This amount does not include the costs for a cemetery plot, headstone, grave marker or cemetery fees. It also does not include other options such as a higher quality casket, sealed vault, etc. These options add to the cost of a basic funeral and burial. It is not uncommon for funeral and burial expenses to exceed 10,000 dollars in the United States. This is one reason older
life insurance policies purchased for estate planning purposes are now insufficient.
How Much Does Cremation Cost?
The average cost of cremation services in the United States, including traditional funeral services with the body present before cremation, use of the funeral home, use of a casket for the funeral service, and flowers, is estimated to be between 5,500 and 7,000 dollars. This amount does not include the costs for a cemetery plot, headstone, grave marker or cemetery fees if the deceased wanted his or her ashes buried in a cemetery. Because of the high cost, it is becoming more common to plan for these expenses in advance by using
Funeral Trusts.If costs are a concern, direct cremation is a much less expensive option. In direct cremation, the human remains are cremated without any type of funeral, memorial service or viewing. The average cost of direct cremation in the United States is estimated to be approximately 1,500 dollars. Also, if a loved one keeps the ashes or scatters the ashes instead of having them buried in a cemetery plot, that will also reduce expenses. Direct cremation, without any other services and no gravesite or marker, is the least expensive form of final disposition of remains.
How to Reduce Funeral and Burial Expenses
There are many ways to cut costs when making final arrangements. For example, many people are now choosing green burials which are better for the environment than traditional methods of burial. By eliminating services such as embalming and cremation, and funeral products such as a casket, grave liner, and headstone, the costs of final arrangements can be greatly reduced with a green burial. See burial options.
How Much Does a Cemetery Plot Cost?
An individual cemetery plot typically costs a minimum of 500 to 3,000 dollars. However, in certain parts of the United States, such as California and New York, it is not uncommon for a single burial plot to sell for 8,000 dollars or more.When purchasing a cemetery plot, it is important to decide whether you want to purchase an individual plot or a family plot. It can be less expensive to purchase several plots in one cemetery at the same time. Before purchasing a burial plot, it is also important to ask the owner of the cemetery the cost of cemetery fees for opening and closing the grave, perpetual care fees, as well as any other fees that may be charged.Many people resell cemetery plots because their estate plans have changed or they moved. See when
last wishes cemetery plot change. In addition to contacting cemeteries, check classified ads and plot exchange websites for burial plots being sold by individuals. Before purchasing a plot from an individual, contact the cemetery owner to find out the transfer fees you may be required to pay when purchasing the burial plot.
Your Rights on Funeral and Burial Expenses
The Federal Trade Commission or FTC enforces the
Funeral Rule, a federal law which requires funeral homes to give you itemized prices over the telephone and in person.
You have the right to purchase individual products and services for your loved one’s funeral. You are not required to purchase a package sold by the funeral home that includes items you do not want. The funeral home is not allowed to require you to purchase unwanted goods or services. If state law requires you to purchase a particular product or service, the funeral home must indicate this on its price list and reference the specific law.If you purchase a casket elsewhere,
the funeral home cannot refuse to use the casket for your loved one and cannot charge you a fee for handling the casket you purchased elsewhere. If the funeral home sells cremation services, it must make alternative containers available.Call or visit at least three different funeral homes for price quotes before selecting a funeral provider. Also, many funeral homes try to get people to prepay for their funeral arrangements in advance as part of preneed planning. Before making advance payment to a mortuary, visit our Prepaying for Funerals page.
Assistance With Funeral and Burial Expenses
If the deceased left little or no money in his estate and the surviving family members are unable to afford the funeral and burial expenses, financial assistance may be available to pay some of the costs. See Burial Assistance.
Can You Afford the Funeral You Want?
If you have ever had to go through the difficult experience of making final arrangements for a loved one, you know that there are many funeral items that are optional rather than required. If you are writing your
last wishes or trying to plan your own funeral, it is helpful to have price estimates for various products and services offered by a funeral home or mortuary. By reviewing the price ranges for various items, you can determine whether you can afford the funeral you want or whether you need to change your last wishes instructions. To learn what various arrangements typically cost, see
can I afford a funeral.