Savvy Senior: How Much Does an Average Funeral Cost?

Dear accomplished senior,

How much does a typical funeral and burial cost today? My wife and I are interested in arranging our funerals in advance but would like to have an idea of ​​the cost before we go in so we can plan and budget appropriately.

plan ahead

dear planning,

It is definitely worth knowing what costs to expect when planning a funeral in advance. Most people have no idea and can often sell thousands of dollars worth of additional services that they may not want or need. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect.

By Jim Miller

funeral prices

The first thing to keep in mind is that funeral costs can vary significantly depending on your geographic location, the funeral home you choose, and the funeral choices you make. With that in mind, here is a breakdown of the average cost of a funeral nationwide, according to the latest data from the National Funeral Directors Association.

Professional Services Fee: This is a non-denial base fee that covers the funeral home’s time, expertise, and overhead: $2,300.

Transfer of the remains: That’s for picking up the body and transporting it to the funeral home: $350

Embalming and body preparation: Embalming is usually mandatory for open casket viewing, otherwise it is not required unless the body is being transported across state lines. Embalming costs $775. Other body supplements, which include hairdressing and cosmetics, cost $275.

Funeral Service and Funeral Service: If the viewing and burial ceremony takes place at the funeral home, you will be charged for use of the chapel and any necessary staff. Cost: $450 for viewing and $515 for memorial service.

metal box: This is a big moneymaker for funeral homes, with markups of up to 300 percent over the wholesale price: $2,500.

funeral transport: use of hearse and driver; $325 to transport the body to the cemetery. Use of service car/van: $150.

Memorial printed package: This includes printed programs and a memorial guest book: $183.

In addition to these costs, there are also a number of cemetery costs such as the property or mausoleum fee, the vault or tomb insert that most cemeteries require, and the opening and closing of the tomb, all of which can range from $2,000 to $3,000; and the tombstone, which typically costs between $1,000 and $3,000.

You must also provide related expenses such as flowers for the funeral ($200 to $400), newspaper obituary fee ($100 to $800 or more), clergyman’s fee ($200 to $300), and additional copies of the Allow for death certificate ($5 to $35 per copy, depending on state).

All told, the average cost of a funeral in the United States today, including viewing and burial, is around $12,000.

ways to save

If this is more than you are willing or able to pay, there are ways to save. For starters, you should know that prices can vary significantly depending on the funeral home, so it’s a good idea to shop around. If you need help, there are websites you can turn to So you can easily compare prices online depending on what you want.

When evaluating funeral providers, make sure you get a detailed price list of the services and products so you can accurately compare and choose what you want.

The main way to save is by requesting “direct burial” or “direct cremation.” With these options, you and your wife would be buried or cremated shortly after death, skipping the embalming and viewing. If you would like a funeral service, you can hold it at the grave or at your place of worship without the body. These services typically cost between $1,000 and $3,000, not counting cemetery fees.

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Submit your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today Show and the author of The Savvy Senior.

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