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How Much Does the Average Funeral Cost?

How Much Does the Average Funeral Cost?

This article provides average funeral cost data for American funerals.

The average cost for an American funeral, like other goods and services, has been steadily increasing over the last two decades.  Anyone that has seen a late-night television commercial for funeral insurance knows the typical American funeral costs more than $6,000 – but is this an accurate estimate?  The short answer is “no.”

Unfortunately, this $6,000 estimate is several years old and doesn’t take into consideration the additional expenses associated with burial in a cemetery and the purchase of a headstone.  Once all funeral-related costs are factored in, the typical traditional funeral service will cost the average family closer to $8,000 - $10,000.  But before we discuss specific funeral costs, we need to spend a few minutes discussing how the funeral industry works.  This will help us understand where our money goes when planning a funeral.

Understanding Funeral Home Services

Many people want to know what services are offered by a funeral home.  Funeral homes, cemeteries, and memorial dealers all play an important role in caring for a deceased family member.  However, funeral homes normally handle the actual funeral or memorial service.

Different funeral home services

But not all funeral services are like.  In fact, funeral homes offer a range of services designed to accommodate different wishes and budgets.

Here are the most common types of services offered at most funeral homes:

    •  traditional funeral service
    • immediate burial
    • direct cremation
    • cremation with services
    • donation
    • memorial service
    • graveside service
    • private service

Understanding Your Total Funeral Bill

Understanding Your Total Funeral Bill

Funeral expenses really consist of three separate pieces:

    • the services and merchandise provided by the funeral home
    • the costs and services to dispose of the body or cremains (i.e. ashes) at the cemetery or elsewhere
    • the cost to purchase and install some type of memorial (i.e. headstone, marker, monument)

Even if you end up paying for all three pieces through the funeral home, it’s best to break the cost of a funeral down into the above-three categories.

When estimating your TOTAL funeral costs, you must add all three pieces together. I think this is by far the best way to plan a funeral because it allows you to isolate and prioritize the goods and services that are most important to you.

Funeral Costs: What Does a Cremation With Services Cost?

Funeral Costs: What Does a Cremation With Services Cost?

The average cost of cremation with serviceshandled through a funeral home is between $2,000 and $4,000.  If these same services are handled directly through a crematory, you can expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000.

When choosing cremation following a funeral service, you can expect to pay between $4,000 to $6,000 at a funeral home or $3,000 to $4,000 at a crematory.

Typically, these prices include the cost of the actual cremation and a basic memorial service.  Some families may instead choose to cremate the body after first holding a viewing or funeral ceremony.

This type of cremation with service can increase costs considerably by requiring you to purchase a casket and pay more for the funeral director's basic services.

You can find and compare local cremation costs at Parting.com

Find trusted funeral homes near you to compare quality and prices

Funeral Costs: How Much Does an Average Funeral Cost?

Funeral Costs: How Much Does an Average Funeral Cost?

Many times you'll hear people say that the average funeral costs around $6,000.  However, that estimate is based on a price survey taken several years ago.  Funeral prices, like everything else, have increased with inflation.

Today, the average North American traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000.  This price range includes the services at the funeral home, burial in a cemetery, and the installation of a headstone.  While cremation is gaining in popularity, the traditional funeral is still the most popular manner for disposing of the deceased.

Funeral Costs: How Much Does an Average Direct Cremation Cost?

Funeral Costs: How Much Does an Average Direct Cremation Cost?

The average cost of a direct cremation through a funeral home is between $1,600 and $3,000.  Costs can run as high as $5,500 if you purchase a casket to be used in the cremation.

The average cost of a direct cremation through a crematory is between $1,000 and $2,200.  Again, costs can be significantly more if you cremate the body in an expensive casket.

There are two basic ways to arrange for direct cremation: through a funeral home or directly through a crematory.  A crematory is a business that only performs cremation services.

Generally speaking, most funeral homes do not perform cremations themselves.  Instead, they contract out their cremation services to a crematory and include the crematory's fees as part of the funeral home's bill.  Many times the funeral home will add a separate handling fee to the crematory's charges.

This means it's usually less expensive to arrange direct cremation through the crematory.  Doing so allows you to eliminate any extra fees from the funeral home.

What is Direct Cremation?

What is Direct Cremation?

Direct cremation is a disposition method where the body is taken directly from the place of death to the crematory and then returned to the family, without any ceremony or visitation. Aside from scientific donation, this is often the most affordable disposition option.

There are three main reasons people choose cremation over body burial:

    • it's less expensive
    • it saves land
    • it provides increased mobility (i.e. it is easy to transport / relocate cremains)

A point of clarification before we get started: cremation replicates the same process that a buried body eventually undergoes.  Over time, a buried body decomposes and ends up as ashes - just like what happens through cremation.

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