Funeral Costs In America: 10 Most Expensive Places To Die
|Top 10 Most Expensive Places To Die In The US. Photo KnowInsiders|
How much does a funeral cost in the US - updated 2022
You can’t take it with you, still most of us plan to leave a little money behind for our loved ones. But without proper planning, you may end with less than you’d expect, what with a traditional funeral running $7,082 on average nationwide, according to the latest finder.com research. Average funeral costs skyrocket past $9,000 when you include a vault. A cremation, on the other hand, averages just $350 because most funeral homes can handle this in-house.
If you think you can skip the pomp and circumstance for a more simple cremation, it will still run you a hefty $4,828 — not exactly chump-change.
The average funeral cost is between $7,000 and $9,000, with the median cost being $7,360.
Costs to factor into a funeral are the hearse, funeral home service fee, casket, headstone, burial plot, viewing and staff fees for any services. If the deceased wished to be cremated, there are separate feeds associated with those services. Funeral costs can be planned for be setting aside a fund or taking out an insurance policy.
These are some of the average costs you may incur for a funeral, according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA).
-Funeral service fee: $2,100
-Funeral home rental: $500
-Funeral home staff: $500
-Cremation casket: $1,000
-Cosmetic services: $250
-Transportation for the family: $150
-Pamphlets and materials: $160
Average funeral costs by state
No matter where you live, cremation is cheaper than a burial, although some areas are certainly cheaper than others. If you live in states like Colorado or Oklahoma, you will pay significantly less than those who live in Kansas or North Dakota.
Every year, the NFDA publishes its General Price List Survey. These are the results of their latest report (2021):
|State||Funeral Cost||End of Life Cost||Total Cost|
2019 NFDA Average Funeral Costs
Cost of a visitation or wake
As a part of overall final expenses, wake or visitation expenses can be significant.
All of the procedures required for a funeral — service fee, transportation, embalming — are also necessary for a wake. According to the NFDA, the median cost of facilities and staff for visitation is $450 in 2021. Similarly, the median cost of facilities and staff for a funeral is $515.
Most families opt for a wake and a funeral service. The median cost of these activities — the same total described above for funeral and burial expenses — is $7,843. This figure includes all services and items associated with a visitation and a funeral. However, it excludes burial-specific costs, such as a vault or headstone.
Total Cost of a Burial (Not Including the Funeral Service) In The US
A lot of people are surprised by simply how much goes into the burial itself. Compared to the cremation process, burial is a complicated affair. It involves any number of things including (but not limited to) the following:
-Application of makeup, clothing, or other body preservation
-Grave liner or vault
-Cemetery maintenance fee
While it’s possible to skip some of these costs or find ways to lower them, it’s undeniable that a burial is expensive. Luckily, many of these costs are bundled through your funeral home or your cemetery. You might need fewer or more things for your burial based on your state or city as well. Ultimately, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for the burial.
The important thing to recognize is that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires funeral homes and cemeteries to be fully transparent in their pricing. They have to share upfront costs and fee breakdowns with anyone who requests them, so it’s easy to stay fully aware of what you’re paying for.
Breaking Down the Full Cost of a Burial
Now let’s take a closer look at the full cost of a burial in the United States. While these vary depending on your specific location, it’s important to know the general prices so you can ensure you’re getting a fair deal. These things below are just related to the burial, not the funeral service.
Embalming is when the body is preserved after death using a variety of chemicals. These can give the body a more “lifelike” appearance, though they don’t actually stop decomposition. Embalming is particularly common for open casket ceremonies.
To have a funeral home embalm a body, this costs around $500 - $700. It’s typically included in a funeral package, and it shouldn’t cost over $1,000. This might include extras like makeup application or other body preservation.
It’s important to note that embalming is not medically necessary in most cases. If the service takes place quickly after death, there’s no reason to embalm other than the personal preferences and beliefs of the family.
Internment is the process of closing and sealing the casket and ensuring it rests safely within the ground or in a mausoleum. This can cost around $1,000 depending on the type of casket and the specific cemetery’s rules.
Casket, urn, or another burial vessel
The casket or burial vessel is often the most expensive part of the burial process. The good news is there is a lot of flexibility in price depending on these factors below:
Decorations or style elements
Sealed vs. unsealed
The casket can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500+ depending on these things above. Recently, there’s been a push for more natural materials like cardboard, hemp, or even just a fabric shroud. These are more affordable.
Headstone and burial plot
If you’re wondering how much a burial plot costs, you might be surprised to learn this can run upwards of $2,000. Cemeteries are separate from funeral homes, and they have their own fees and costs. A grave plot can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000. The cost goes up in more in-demand areas like cities where space is at a premium.
Some states, cities, and cemeteries also require what’s known as a grave vault or grave liner. This is an extra layer of protection against the casket and the elements, but it involves more work and materials from the cemetery. It costs around $1,000.
Similarly, you’ll also need to know how much a headstone costs. Aside from the casket, this can also be one of the most expensive purchases. A headstone is a form of legacy, so it’s common to choose something expensive and built to last. A traditional headstone or gravemarker will cost around $1000 and will also need to be installed for an additional fee of up to $500.
The cemetery also usually charges what’s known as a maintenance fee. This covers the cost of upkeep for the cemetery, including cleaning the grave, lawn care, and so on. Some cemeteries charge this as a one-time fee upfront, or it might be a yearly or monthly fee. It’s usually around $200.
The body also needs to be transported to the cemetery. This is something arranged by the funeral home typically, and it might be part of the funeral if the casket is included in the service.
Transportation usually happens in a hearse, but a limo or other car might also be rented to take the family to the cemetery. Transporting the body costs around $500.
|How Much Does a Funeral Cost? |
In the United States, the average cost of a funeral can vary widely by state and type of service. According to the 2021 National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the median cost of a funeral with burial and viewing is $8,805. For a funeral with cremation and viewing, the median cost is $6,515.
These figures do not take into account items like marker costs, flowers, a cremation casket, or cemetery costs for families who choose to inter the cremated remains of their loved ones.
Since the 1980s, funeral costs have been steadily rising, and those who do not pre-plan funeral expenses could pay more than intended.
By being aware of the average cost of funeral expenses and planning ahead, you can decide the non-negotiables, what you would like to have, and what you may not want or need.
|How Much Does a Funeral Cost with Burial? |
According to 2021 data collected by Final Expense Direct, the average cost of direct burial in America is $6,980.
Free Final Expense Quote
-A funeral with viewing averages $7,410 and with service is $7,910. If you choose a full funeral with burial, service, and viewing, the average cost is $10,805.
-These figures do not include 2021 Funeral Costs of embalming, which averages $683, or a casket, which is $1,244. If you choose a hearse to take you to the cemetery, the average cost is $318.
-There also may be extra costs to transport the body, grave markers, cemetery or mausoleum costs, plus plot fees.
Quick Tips for Saving Money on a Burial
Though these fees and costs above are understandably intimidating, that doesn’t mean you have to pay this much or mee. As mentioned previously, there are many ways to keep the costs down, and prices vary depending on where you live.
Here are some of our favorite quick tips for saving money on a burial. Everyone deserves a respectful burial, but this doesn’t have to come at a high premium.
Purchase funeral insurance
While this doesn’t help much after someone dies, it’s an important way to prepare for the future. Because it’s easy to underestimate just how much a funeral and burial costs, funeral insurance helps cover these costs, so they don’t fall to the family.
Also known as burial insurance or final expense insurance, funeral insurance allows you to purchase a policy that helps cover the cost of your funeral and burial. You can choose a plan that fits your budget and burial wishes.
Another way to lower the cost of a funeral is to skip embalming altogether. This can cost up to $750 or more depending on any extras, and it doesn’t serve any medical or protective purpose. While it does slow down the decomposition process, it’s also highly invasive and unnecessary.
If you’re not planning on holding an open casket funeral, it might be a good idea to skip embalming altogether. While this is a personal decision, consider opting out to save this money.
Shop around for the best price
The FTC requires funeral homes and cemeteries to be upfront about all costs and fees. This makes it possible to shop around to make sure you’re not overpaying for your area.
If you live in a busy metropolitan city, you might be able to find a better deal on a burial outside of the city. In addition, you can shop online for things like caskets and headstones to keep costs down.
Consider a green burial
Last but not least, there are more options than ever when it comes to customizing your burial. Many are opting out of “traditional” burials in normal cemeteries for something more eco-friendly known as a green burial.
A green burial is what it sounds like. It’s a natural burial without the typical embalming, heavy-duty casket, or extras. It’s a back-to-basics approach to burials that costs significantly less without compromising on meaning.
|How do you bury someone with no money? |
Direct cremation is the least expensive option for most families. If your family qualifies for Medicaid, your state may offer funds to offset end-of-life expenses. You may also be eligible for assistance from FEMA, the VA, Social Security, or other state and local programs. See our list of funeral assistance resources for more information.
Top 10 states with the highest average funeral cost
New York ($10,799)
New Jersey ($9,712)
Rhode Island ($9,269)
Top 10 Most Expensive States To Die In The US (For Traditional Funerals)
5.Rhode Island: $3,535.21
Top 10 Most Expensive States To Die In The US (For Cremation Services)
3.Rhode Island: $3,364.58
7.Washington, D.C.: $3,130.42
Most expensive cemeteries in the US
Mount Auburn Cemetery, Massachusetts
Premium plot price: $500,000
Founded in 1831 as America’s first “rural cemetery,” this former park is liberally littered with the graves of Boston’s original social elite—Mayflower descendants and Harvard eggheads abound.
Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Los Angeles
Premium plot price: $825,000
Strangely enough, this star-studded cemetery was founded in 1906 as a not-for-profit graveyard. Speaking of strange, Michael Jackson is buried there.
Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx
Premium plot price: $1.5 million
Considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, this National Historic Landmark’s permanent guests include the likes of baseball legend Babe Ruth. Even though the Curse of the Bambino was lifted in 2004, Red Sox fans still leave graveside offerings of pizzas and cheese Danishes.
Westwood Village Park Memorial, Los Angeles
Premium plot price: $4.6 million
Or at least that what’s a crypt directly above Marilyn Monroe’s cost on eBay in 2009 at this small but historic cemetery. Turns out the original owner bought it off Joe DiMaggio when the ballplayer was in the midst of his divorce from Monroe in 1954. Word has it he then told Joe: “You’re outta here!”
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