How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

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By Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena)
March 5, 2002

Q. How much does an average funeral cost?

A. Here's a breakdown of average costs, nationwide, according to a 1999 National Association of Funeral Directors ( survey. Some parts of the country will be more expensive, though, and others will be less expensive. In addition, you can spend a lot more or a lot less, depending on some decisions you make.

  Most Commonly            Average
Selected Services            Cost  
Professional Charges      $1,182.31
Embalming                   $400.51
Other preparations*         $150.35
Visitation/viewing          $314.42
Funeral at funeral home     $356.68
Funeral Home transfering    $158.66
Hearse (local)              $179.08
Service car/van              $87.42
Acknowledgement cards        $14.47
Casket                    $2,176.46
Vault                       $757.80
Total                     $5,778.16

*(cosmetology, etc.)

Of course, this isn't all that's involved. It's just what a funeral director would typically be involved in. Here are some additional expenses:

  • Cemetery plot: $500 to several thousand
  • Opening and closing the grave: $350 to $1,500, depending on the time and day of the week
  • Headstones, statues, or markers: $500 to several thousand
  • By contrast, a cremation can cost just $1,500 or less.

If you don't want cremation, with careful planning and purchasing, you can pay just $2,500 or less for a funeral and traditional metal casket. More details and resources are at this "funeral rip-off" website and in this previous article. Also, we have discussion boards on Funerals and Cemeteries and on Death and Grieving. Check them out.

And if you'd like an actual person (a financial pro, no less) to talk to about your financial-planning needs, check out our TMF Money Advisor. It features customized independent advice from objective financial experts. If you have any thoughts or opinions on this topic, share it with others on our discussion board for Ask the Fool.

This question and answer is adapted from The Motley Fool Money Guide: Answers to Your Questions About Saving, Spending and Investing. For answers to this and 499 other common money questions, check it out -- it's a handy resource.