Generally, we think about the expenses of everyday life, and you plan your budget around things like paying your bills, putting gas in your car and trips to the grocery store.
However, there are final expenses to think of after your death, too.
No one likes to think about death or the costs it can have, but planning for it now can save your family a lot of money and stress down the road. End-of-life expenses can add up quickly and end up costing the loved ones left behind thousands of dollars. There are final medical expenses, debts to settle, and of course, funeral costs.
Funeral costs have risen sharply over the past several decades. The average American funeral now costs well over $7,000, not counting expenses for flowers, obituaries, vaults, and other services.
That’s a large expense and can be especially stressful for family members who are already dealing with a loss. People often need to dip into their retirement savings or take out loans to pay for funeral costs.
While you can’t prevent that cost from ever occurring, you can put things in place to lessen the burden they’ll have on your loved ones. It’s a good idea to put money in place now with a life insurance policy. That way, your funeral and other final expenses will be covered. It’s something you can do right to help your family even after you pass away.
Read on for an in-depth look at funeral costs and tips to help you use a life insurance policy to help your family pay them.
Average Costs for Funeral Services
Before purchasing a life insurance policy for funeral costs, you need to know how much a funeral cost?
The cost of a funeral and what you will pay depends on the services you choose, the funeral home you work with, and even the state you live in.
Because there are so many different variables that go into planning a funeral, there is not one flat cost that will be the same for everyone. The final amount will vary from person to person.
While we can’t provide you with an exact dollar amount to how much your specific funeral will cost, we can provide you with an average price based on research we have conducted regarding the topic.
We can also provide you with some excellent tips on getting prices based on funeral homes within your area. But first, let’s start by reviewing the chart below to review how much the average funeral service typically costs based on data collected by the National Funeral Directors Association.
We have also broken down the traditional funeral cost by state and the three most populated cities in each state to give you a good idea of what you may spend in your area.
Average funeral cost breakdown
|Funeral Services:||Average Costs (2021-2022)|
|Basic services fee||$2,300|
|Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home||$350|
|Total without vault||$7,848|
|Total with vault||$9,420|
Not an inclusive list of fees. All costs are from the National Funeral Directors Association statistics – (2021-2022).
Average funeral cost by state and city
|State||Avg Cost||City||Avg Cost||City||Avg Cost||City||Avg Cost|
|Alaska||$6,605||Anchorage||$6,605||Juneau||No Data||Fairbanks||No Data|
|Arkansas||$6,143||Little Rock||$6,105||Fort Smith||$6,243||Fayetteville||$6,082|
|California||$6,045||Los Angeles||$5,639||San Diego||$6,117||San Jose||$6,381|
|Hawaii||$6,234||Honolulu||$6,848||Pearl City||$5,620||Hilo||No Data|
|Iowa||$7,206||Des Moines||$6,502||Cedar Rapids||$7,688||Davenport||$7,430|
|Kansas||$7,115||Wichita||$6,684||Overland Park||$7,680||Kansas City||$6,983|
|Kentucky||No Data||Louisville||No Data||Lexington||No Data||Bowling Green||$6,997|
|Louisiana||$6,607||New Orleans||$6,851||Baton Rouge||$6,326||Shreveport||$6,644|
|Montana||$6,067||Billings||$5,420||Missoula||$6,715||Great Falls||No Data|
|New Jersey||$6,591||Newark||$6,923||Jersey City||$6,600||Paterson||$6,250|
|New Mexico||$5,692||Albuquerque||$6,072||Las Cruces||$4,560||Rio Rancho||$6,445|
|New York||$7,789||New York City||$6,841||Hempstead||$8,350||Brookhaven||$8,177|
|North Dakota||$6,802||Fargo||$6,432||Bismarck||$7,325||Grand Forks||$6,650|
|South Carolina||$7,511||Charleston||$7,890||Columbia||$6,765||Mount Pleasant||$7,878|
|South Dakota||$7,020||Sioux Falls||$6,694||Rapid City||$6,245||Aberdeen||$8,121|
|Utah||$6,585||Salt Lake City||$6,299||West Valley City||$6,932||Provo||$6,525|
All average funeral costs for cities is data pulled from the website Parting.com and their funeral home price comparison tool. State averages have been determined by combining data pulled from the three largest cities in each state. Prices are based on a General Price List on Basic Services, Viewing/Visitation, Funeral Ceremony, Transfer of Remains, Embalming, Casket, Outer Burial Container, and Dressing and Casketing.
What is the National Funeral Directors Association - NFDA?
The National Funeral Directors Associations also referred to as the NFDA for short, is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association.
Headquartered in Brookfield, Wis, the NFDA has a membership base of over 20,000 individual funeral professionals that make up nearly 11,000 total funeral homes located across the United States and spread throughout 49 countries worldwide.
How accurate are the rates for funeral costs, as shown in the above table?
Since the 1960s, the NFDA has been tracking the average funeral costs each year. Due to their large membership base of funeral home professionals, the NFDA surveys its members to get a general price list of the average funeral costs for burial and cremation services.
The prices displayed in the above table mark the national median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial for the calendar year of 2019 provided by the NFDA and its members.
Understanding the FTC Funeral Rule
The costs of funerals often surprise people. It can be overwhelming to try and pick services, caskets, and extras while staying within budget.
The “Funeral Rule” is a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforced rule that makes the funeral process transparent and allows you to only pay for the services you need.
Understanding the Funeral Rule can help you understand funeral costs and help you plan for them in advance.
Under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Funeral Rule, all funeral providers and funeral homes must comply with the following rules:
Allow customers to buy only the services they need – A funeral home can’t insist you buy a funeral package or even require you to buy everything that is included in a package that they offer. You are also not required to purchase any additional services you do not feel are needed. The rule allows you to choose from a list of services the funeral home offers and only the services you require.
Get quotes and pricing over the phone – You can get price information from a funeral home without visiting them in person. You don’t even have to give them your name or other personal information. The rule allows you to call a funeral home and get prices so you can shop around for prices you can afford. If getting a quote online, ask if the funeral director can also mail out a price list or ask if they have an online website with the price list posted. This is not a requirement of the funeral rule, but it’s worth checking so you can compare quotes.
Provide a physical and itemized price list when you visit – If you visit a funeral home in person, they have to give you a list of all services they offer and your prices. This list is yours to keep, so you can take it home with you when you leave. This can be a big help if you need time to budget and compare prices.
Provide you with a casket price list – Funeral homes are required to give you a price list of every casket they offer. This includes lower-priced ones that might not be on display.
Give you a written burial container price list – Many cemeteries require burial containers, also referred to as burial vaults. Not all funeral homes sell them, but the funeral homes that do must give you a list of all containers and their prices.
Give you an itemized statement of every service you’ve ordered before you pay – A funeral home must provide you with an itemized list of every service you selected along with its price before you make payment. They need to give you this list as soon as you make arrangements. This list must also include any services you’re legally required to have.
Allow you to provide your own casket or urn – Funeral home providers can’t refuse a casket or urn you purchased somewhere else. They also can’t charge you a fee for using it or require you to be there when delivered to the funeral home.
Not require you to use a casket for cremation – You don’t need to use a casket for cremation, and a funeral home can’t require you to. They must have alternative containers available for customers who want them.
Not required to purchase embalming services – In some states, bodies must be embalmed or at the very least be refrigerated if they have not been buried or cremated within a set amount of time. Other states have no embalming requirements at all. As long as emballing is not required by state law in your situation, a funeral home can’t require it. Funeral homes also can’t embalm a body without written consent. Some funeral homes require embalming if there will be a public viewing of the body, but they can’t require it for private family services.
Required to you about any cash advance fees they charge – Some funeral homes will buy items or services from other vendors for you. This might include flowers, organists, clergy, or other officiants. In addition to the costs for the items and services, funeral homes are allowed to add an extra fee to your final bill to make these arrangements and pay the costs. However, they’re required to tell you about the fee upfront.
Provide legal requirements about cremations – If you choose to be cremated, the funeral home must provide a written explanation of any legal requirements that require the purchase of any funeral goods or other services.
FTC Funeral Guide PDF
Our article provides just a quick but thorough overview of the FTC Funeral Rules, but we highly recommend downloading the full pdf guide issued by the Federal Trade Commission.
The 36-page guide provides a wealth of information on the rules funeral homes must legally abide by when you are ready to begin pre-planning your funeral needs.
Calculating the Cost of a Funeral
You can get an idea of what your funeral cost might look like by planning ahead. No one wants to dwell on their own future funeral, but having an idea of what you want can help you prepare for the costs.
Having a conversation with your spouse or other family members now can ensure your wishes are met and allow you to plan for the costs.
Embalming might be needed if you want to have public viewing and visitation. If you want to be buried quickly after your death or want to be cremated, you don’t need this service. Embalming often costs hundreds of dollars, so if you don’t want a large public viewing, this might be an expense you can skip.
However, for many people, public viewings and traditional funeral services are important. They can help friends and family celebrate your life and pay their respects. If that’s something that holds meaning for you and your family, embalming might be a needed expense.
The average cost for embalming: $750
Note: Choosing to be embalmed is generally not a requirement by law.
Caskets are generally the single biggest expense of a funeral and can cost as much as a couple of hundred dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars. Caskets are constructed of plastic, metal, fiberglass, or wood and come in many styles. You’ll pay more for caskets made of expensive woods or metals.
You can buy a casket from a funeral home or an outside vendor. There are showrooms and websites dedicated only to caskets. You can have any casket sent to any funeral home, so it’s worth looking around to see what deals you can find.
Caskets don’t preserve bodies. More expensive caskets made of higher quality materials might hold up better against the elements. However, this will prolong the look of the casket. It won’t affect the body inside it.
For this reason, any casket you can afford and like the look of is a good choice. You can browse casket options to get an idea of their cost. Generally, caskets made of materials like pine are the least expensive, while caskets made from cherrywood or copper can become very costly.
The average cost for a casket: $2,500
Cremation is a widely used alternative to traditional burials. You can choose cremation either before or after a traditional viewing. A cremation without viewing is called a direct cremation.
You can rent a casket from the funeral home during the viewing and then be cremated. Both options eliminate the need for a casket and are substantially cheaper than a funeral with a burial.
You can see some of the average costs of cremation in the chart below:
|Cremation Services:||Average Costs (2019)|
|Basic services fee||$2,195|
|Transfering of remains to funeral home||$350|
|Alternative cremation container||$150|
Not an inclusive list of fees. All costs are from the National Funeral Directors Association statistics – 2019.
Other Funeral Costs
Of course, there are other costs associated with funerals. Beyond caskets and the preparation of the body, there costs associated with viewing, ceremonies, and burial. Funerals require extensive planning in a concise window of time, but pre-planning can help.
Service costs and fees to be aware of and plan for include:
|Additional Services||Potential Cost|
|Burial plot||$1,000 - $4,000|
|Casket dressing||$100 - $300|
|Ceremony||$500 - $1000|
|Clergy||$200 - $300|
|Floral arrangements||$200 - $400|
|Headstone or marker||$1,000 - $3,000+|
|Musicians||$100 - $200|
|Obituary||$100 - $600|
Extra funeral services can add up. Fortunately, you can prepare ahead. You can even take care of some of those costs now.
For example, many people purchase their burial plots at their cemetery of choice well before their death. Plus, you might already have a family plot you want to buried in. Knowing these details and pre-planning now can be a huge help to your loved ones in the future.
One of the best steps you can take is to get all your wishes in writing. Make a document such as a will that plans out all your final wishes. The more you plan now, the less your loved ones will have to plan down the road.
Anything important to you can be included in your will, and you can specifically spell out exactly what you’d like done. From specifying if you’d like cremation or burial to requesting that specific faith traditions are part of your funeral ceremony, a final planning document makes sure your wishes are honored.
You can include these requests as part of your will or as a separate document altogether. If you use a lawyer or financial planner’s services, it can be a good idea to have them go over it and keep a copy for you. Ensure a trusted loved one also knows about the document and can access it if they need to.
Tips To Finding Funeral Cost Near You
One of the hardest parts of pre-planning funeral costs is knowing where to start and which funeral homes to work with.
The great thing for you is that you have the internet at your disposal, which will be your best source of information. Here are some of our top tips on using the internet to search for funeral homes in your area.
Funeral homes near me
One of the best ways to search for any service, including funeral home services, is simply doing a “near me” search within Google.
All you need to do is type in the Google search bar the following words (funeral homes near me).
When you do, this Google will show a map pinpointing every registered funeral home business located within a default radius of 15 miles from your home or the location where you are performing the search.
If you want additional results, expanding the radius of your search results by zooming out on the map will pull additional funeral homes in other towns or cities outside the default 15-mile radius.
For every result that shows up on the map, there will be a business listing for each business that that appears on the map. Each business listing will provide the following details about the funeral home:
- Telephone number
- Hours of operation
- Star ratings representing customer reviews
- Directions to the funeral home
- Website (if listed)
The Google funeral homes near me search method is one of the best ways to get familiar with businesses closest to your home. It’s easy to use, provides insight to customer experiences through reviews, and in many cases, access to a website, which can lead to learning about the funeral home and services they provide.
Parting.com is its own powerful search engine for just about anything funeral-related. The website offers a one-of-a-kind pricing feature that allows you to instantly compare burial and cremation prices from local funeral homes in your area.
The online website has even been named the #1 resource for comparing funeral home pricing and featured in The New York Times, Forbes, and AARP, to name a few.
How does Parting.com work?
As soon as you visit the online website, you’re directed to enter your city or zip code, followed by a list of funeral questions used to determine which funeral homes to display based on your needs.
The questions are as followed:
- When will you require services, immediate or future?
- Which do you prefer, burial or cremation?
- Would you like to hold a service?
- Would you like a viewing or wake?
After answering these few simple questions, you are instantly shown a google powered map showing a list of every participating funeral home located within a radius from your home, just as if you were performing a Google funeral homes near me search.
Each funeral home will have its own individual profile where you can learn about the funeral home and its services. Some profiles will also offer customer reviews, photographs of the facility, and contact information to the funeral home.
What sets Parting.com apart from any other funeral home website is the unique ability to compare prices for burial and cremation costs from multiple funeral homes within your area. Parting.com’s unique ability to instantly shop and compare burial and cremation prices makes funeral costs as easy as it gets.
In addition to the data provided by the NFDA, the website has been the main source of our data in helping provide you with the funeral costs by both state and city, as shown in the table above.
Legacy.com is the world’s largest online obituary and memorial website. The online-based company has partnered with over 1,500 newspapers and more than 3,500 funeral homes to make sure that friends, family, and loved ones worldwide have the ability to pay their last respects through a virtual memorial guestbook hosted through the Legacy website.
With their multiple partnerships with local newspapers and funeral homes, you can view individual obituaries by state. For every obituary, you will have access to important information about the deceased such as contact information to the funeral home that will be handling the funeral services and when visitation and funeral services are scheduled to take place.
For every deceased obituary, you will also have the opportunity to write condolences, share memories, upload photos, and send flowers to the funerals, possibly through a partnership with FTD (Florist Transworld Delivery).
While Legacy.com does not provide access to funeral costs, the website offers a search feature that can provide contact information to funeral homes located within your area.
Paying for a Funeral
Having to dip into savings or take out a loan can be a huge financial hardship for grieving families. That’s why the best way to pay for a funeral is with money that’s already been set aside. A life insurance insurance policy protects your family from having to shoulder those costs and ensures there is money ready for a funeral.
Death benefits from life insurance policies are often paid quickly. Beneficiaries can see payouts within a week of making a claim, allowing funds to be used for funeral expenses. Plus, your family will have coverage for other end-of-life expenses, like medical bills and any debts you might have.
Life Insurance Options for Funeral Costs
There are a few different options when it comes to life insurance. All policies will payout a death benefit to the beneficiary or beneficiaries of your choosing, but there are some key differences you should be aware of.
It’s important to choose coverage that will protect your family down the road, without stretching your current budget too thin.
Term life insurance
Term life insurance covers you for a set amount of time, generally between 10 and 40 years, depending on your age at the time you choose to purchase a policy. A term insurance policy policy will pay out only if you die during your term length.
Term coverage is often the most affordable type of life insurance. With term policies, you’re able to get large payout amounts at low rates. Especially if you’re currently young and healthy, you can find term coverage for a budget-friendly monthly premium.
You can set your policy amount to cover not only funeral and any other end of life costs, but living costs for the family you leave behind. Life insurance policies can help your family keep on mortgage payments and other bills, allowing them to stay in their home after you pass away.
Term policies are a great way to do this at a low rate. However, the drawback of term policies is that they do expire. Most people do outlive their term policies. Many term policies can be rolled over or converted down the road, but this often comes at a cost.
If you are a senior, a term insurance policy can be an affordable solution to covering funeral costs, but understand that the coverage will eventually expire. The age cutoff for seniors to get a term life insurance policy is age 80.
Whole life insurance
Whole life insurance policies cover you for your entire life. You’ll be covered no matter how much longer you live. The policy will pay out whether you die a week into coverage or 60 years after buying it.
However, you’ll pay a lot more for that lifelong coverage. Whole life policies are often more than 10 times the cost of term life policies with the same benefit amount.
While whole life insurance offers many benefits, its coverage is not a feasible option for most families due to the cost. The same can also be said if you’re currently in your senior years and pre-planning for potential funeral costs. Whole life insurance is not going to be a cost-effective option. Instead, look into a burial whole life insurance policy.
Burial life insurance
You can also choose to take out a policy for a smaller amount that’s only meant to cover your end-of-life expenses. Term and whole life policies are normally purchased in larger amounts intended to replace your income for years.
A burial life insurance policy on the other hand covers smaller costs such as your funeral and other small end-of-life costs.
So, while some people might need to take out a $500,000 term life policy, sometimes they might only need a $10,000 or $20,000 final expense policy that is used for pre-planning funeral expenses.
Purchasing a burial life insurance will not require you to take a medical exam, so they’re a lot easier to qualify for than standard life insurance policies.
These types of policies can be a good idea if you’re in your senior years and wouldn’t be leaving behind a large amount of debt to your serving dependents. The smaller death benefit amounts can make sure your family isn’t overwhelmed by the cost of your funeral and other expenses.
Exploring Other Ways to Cover Funeral Costs
You might think that your assets and estate are enough to cover the cost of your funeral and protect your loved ones, especially if you have a high income or net worth. However, this often isn’t’ the case.
A big reason for this? Debt.
When you’re planning who will get your estate, you can designate family and other loved ones in your will to get all or a portion of the estate. Before they get any of it, your estate will undergo probate.
The probate process looks for any debts you owe. Those amounts will be paid to your creditors before anyone else gets money from your estate. This means your family could get left with less money than you’d planned.
The probate process can also take an extended period of time, meaning your family might not have it in time for your funeral.
Life insurance payouts, on the other hand, cannot be touched by creditors. Your beneficiary will get the exact amount of your policy paid directly to them. As stated above, the turn around is also generally really quick.
That makes life insurance a much better choice for final expenses. Having a will is important, but it’s not a substitute for a life insurance policy.
GoFundMe and other crowdfunding platforms to help with funeral costs
There’s a good chance that you have heard of the popular fundraising platform called GoFundMe. You may have even donated to someone or some organization that needed some financial help.
If you are unaware of the powerful fundraising platform, it’s a simple program. GoFundMe began in 2010 as a solution for individuals and organizations to set up an online funding campaign with a goal amount where donors can make donations towards the campaign’s financial goal.
The platform allows fundraising campaigns to be easily created and shared with friends and loved ones through different social media platforms, emails, and texts, making it easy to spread the word about the campaign.
GoFundMe acts as the middleman in donations can be securely made through the website where the campaign organizer can access the funds from the donations, which are generally received within a few days from being requested from GoFundMe.
One of the best benefits of the GoFundMe model is that the money received from a campaign is generally free from taxes as they are considered personal gifts that are not commonly taxed as income.
Crowdfunding platforms have also have become a helpful solution in raising money to help pay for a loved one’s funeral costs. The unexpected death of a loved one can take a significant toll on a family’s savings, and platforms such as GoFundMe are one way to help lessen the burden.
Personally, I have seen GoFundMe be successful in being able to handle loved one’s entire funeral costs, and I have also seen them fall significantly short of the goal.
Relying solely on a GoFundMe campaign to pay for a loved one’s funeral costs should be done with extreme caution. There is no guarantee that you will be able to get enough donors to contribute to the campaign.
Steps You Can Do Take To Prepare Now
Preparing while you’re still alive is one of the most important things you can do to help your loved ones in the event of your death. When it comes to your funeral, there are steps you can take right now to prepare.
Preparing while you’re still alive is one of the most important things you can do to help your loved ones in the event of your death. When it comes to your funeral, there are steps you can take right now to prepare.
Get your will in place – As we said, having a will is important. Getting your will in order helps make sure your final wishes will be handled and how your estate will be passed on.
Buy a life insurance policy – A life insurance policy is a great way to make sure your funeral expenses and other small debts are covered. If you’re between the ages of 18-65, consider a term insurance policy. If you’re over the age of 65, consider a burial life insurance policy that doesn’t require a medical exam.
Decide how you want to be buried – It’s a good idea to make decisions on your funeral now. Consider questions like:
- Do you want to be buried or cremated?
- Do you want a viewing?
- A full funeral ceremony?
- Is there a specific place you’d like to be buried?
- Is there a church you’d like your service to be held in?
If you’re concerned about costs, a direct burial or direct cremation will be two of the most affordable funeral options.
Make a document outlining what kind of funeral you want – Once you know what you meant, get it writing. Plan out as much as you can and write it down. This might feel strange if you’re young and healthy, but it can be a blessing to your family later on.
Figure out prices in your area – Average funeral prices don’t necessarily mean you’ll pay those prices. After all, you’re only paying for the services you actually use, so some common costs might not apply to you. Plus, where you live, can make a huge impact.
For example, a direct cremation in Tucson, Arizona, can cost as little as $649, while a full-service funeral in Atlanta can be as much as $11,050.
Be sure to follow our tips on finding funeral costs in your area. Use the internet to your advantage, and when you find a funeral home, call them to discuss prices. Remember the FTC Funeral Rule.
Browses caskets and urns online – You can get casket or urn prices from the funeral homes you call. However, it’s also a good idea to shop around. Websites that you would never think to look for caskets and urns like Amazon or Costco can really be excellent places to get good prices on those items.
While those exact models might no longer be available by the time you die, you can get an idea of what’s available. It can help you decide on casket material and style if you’d like traditional burial or on the style of the urn you’d like if you want to be cremated.
If you see a style you like, you can even include this information on your planning document.
Buy a burial plot – You can buy a burial plot at most cemeteries at any time. You can buy a family plot to include your spouse and any children, or just buy an individual plot.
Not only will pre-buying a plot to help your family avoid the stress and cost of buying a plot after you die, but it also ensures you’re buried in the cemetery of your choosing.
Pre-pay your funeral costs – If you have the extra funds, it may not be a bad idea to consider pre-paying your funeral costs. Most funeral homes offer pre-paid funeral plans which allow you to pay your entire funeral cost upfront or in payments.
Average Funeral Costs - Final Thought
Funerals are expensive, but you can prepare well in advance. The best way to help your family cover your funeral costs is with a life insurance policy. A life insurance policy will allow your beneficiary to get the money they need quickly. They can use the money for final medical expenses and other costs.
If you’re looking for a life insurance policy, we can help. At No Medical Exam Quotes, we can match with quotes from the best life insurance companies. Plus, we work with top companies that don’t require you to take an exam. That means you can get coverage easily from the comfort of your home.
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