Average Funeral Cost: What to Expect and Plan For

average funeral cost

How much does an average funeral cost, you ask? Well, it’s never the answer you want to hear but…it depends. A funeral isn’t just one thing – it is a composition of arrangements, meetings, preparations, paperwork, and everything in between.

There is a lot of planning that goes into a traditional funeral service with varying options and packages to choose from, so average funeral costs will depend on a combination of all these factors.

However, it’s common knowledge that funerals are expensive. If you are planning a funeral for your loved one and prefer a traditional burial instead of cremation, be prepared for a case of sticker shock.

Average Funeral Cost Breakdown: Fees and Charges

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the median cost of an adult funeral with viewing and burial for calendar year 2016 was $7,360. For most consumers, understanding exactly what they’re getting for their funeral money can help them come to terms with what might seem like outrageous prices.

Here’s a breakdown of the $7,360 average funeral cost to help shed some light on funeral charges:

ITEM $$$
Funeral Director Services – these are the basic services provided by the funeral director which are non-declinable. They include filing the death certificate, procuring permits, arranging the funeral service, ensuring safe handling of remains during transportation, and general overhead expenses. $2,100
Removal of Remains – transferring the body from place of death to funeral home. $325
Embalming – although strongly recommended for funeral viewings, embalming is not a legal requirement if the body is immediately buried or cremated. But embalming may be necessary in certain cases, e.g., traditional funeral with viewing. $725
Body Preparation – this includes services such as washing the body, clothing, makeup, and hair styling. $250
Viewing & Ceremony – these fees include rental charges for the funeral home venue and staff labor costs. Total charges depend on the type of ceremony, size of the space, and location of the facility (add extra money if you plan on serving food). Visitation1 Funeral Ceremony2 $4251


Transportation – charges for a hearse, limousine and/or other service vehicle, plus extra if there is a funeral procession. Procession fees depend on travel distance and number of participants. $475
Memorial Print Package – this comprises costs for funeral programs, memorial cards, printed keepsakes, etc. $160
Casket – this is the big-ticket item. Caskets are synonymous with traditional burial and come in all shapes and sizes from a simple pine box to a top of the line gold casket. $2,400
Total Median cost of Funeral with Viewing and Burial $7,360

Note: other amenities such as flowers, clergy honorarium, musicians, memorial videography, obituary filing, etc., are considered additional costs and will need to be added to the overall budget as necessary.

Six Feet Under

Last but not least, there are burial expenses to take into account after the funeral service is over. Usually, burial occurs in a cemetery and it is assumed that the family has already paid for the cemetery grave plot. In addition to the cost of the plot, most cemeteries require a burial vault or grave liner to prevent the grave from sinking further into the ground as the casket declines over time.

Grave liners cost a little less as they cover only the top and sides of the casket while a burial vault surrounds the casket and is often made of reinforced concrete. The median cost of a vault is $1,395.

Other burial expenses include:

  • Interment fees – opening and closing the grave.
  • Headstone – this can be a flat grave marker or a more elaborate tomb monument.
  • Cemetery perpetual care fees – perpetual care ensures continuing maintenance and care of the gravesite but is only offered by some cemeteries.

To find out more about average funeral costs in your area, visit Funeralocity and compare prices of funeral homes in your location.

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