The cost of a funeral with a burial is in line with other major purchases made throughout one's lifetime including home and car purchases. However, unlike other purchasing decisions, when funeral arrangements are not made in advance, these sensitive and potentially expensive decisions are done when most vulnerable. Funeral fees and pricing are regulated by the FCC Funeral Rule to help make it easier for general consumers to understand. To assist, funeral homes are required to provide a general price list (“GPL”) to all families which line-item all costs. For more information click here (link to article Funeral Rule: Guidelines Governing Funeral Pricing)

Notwithstanding the federal oversight, understanding a funeral bill can be challenging as it includes a myriad of government regulations with complicated provisions. Additionally, making funeral arrangements is not a common purchase so many individuals are unfamiliar with terminology and requirements. This article is written to help individuals better understand the costs associated with a funeral and burial.

Understanding Costs

The total cost of a funeral is ultimately determined by the funeral service provider and the specific merchandise selected. Once these choices are made, the total cost of the funeral can be determined.

The funeral bill is broken up in two parts. Part one includes the funeral goods and services provided by the funeral home. These prices vary depending on the funeral home you select and the decisions you make for items like the casket and whether you need a limousine.

Part two are items considered “cash advance” or “third-party charges.” These are services provided by other vendors that a funeral home will obtain and coordinate for you. They are not part of the funeral home’s bill, but nonetheless must be included in the budget when calculating the total funeral cost.

Part 1: Funeral Goods and Services

Depending on the funeral home, the funeral goods and services that are typically included in a graveside service include:

  • Transferring the deceased to the funeral home
  • Preparation of the deceased
  • Filing of all paperwork and securing of all necessary permits
  • Scheduling the service for the day and time desired by the family
  • Taking the deceased by hearse to the cemetery
  • Supervising the service
  • Providing all of the religious articles necessary for the service
  • The casket

The funeral service provider you choose along with the specific goods and services you select will determine this portion of the bill. These prices vary depending on the funeral home. Other goods and services you may wish to consider include:

  • Limousine
  • Shroud
  • Newspaper notice
  • Flowers
  • Audio or Video recording

Part 2: Cash Advance or Third Party Items

When considering the costs for a graveside service, remember to budget for cash advance or third party items. These items include:

Cemetery charges to open and close the grave. Depending upon the cemetery, these range anywhere from $1000 to $1850 (and possibly more with overtime or holiday hours);

Clergy: if you do not have your own the funeral home or cemetery can arrange for one. There is typically an expected honorarium or donation for the clergies services of between $300 - $700;

Death Certificates: depending on the particular county where the deceased has been pronounced, each certificate will cost between $10 and $20 and you will need several. Additional information can be found here: What to do When Someone Dies >>

Additional cash advance items can include a tahara, shomer, and airfare if the deceased needs to be flown from another state.

General Expenses Based on Type of Service

Below is a list of sample Goods and Services and the pricing typically offered at a funeral home or cemetery. Prices and services will differ depending on region, city and funeral homes.


Basic arrangements include a funeral director (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week), equipment and facilities to respond to initial requests for service, the arrangement conference, securing of necessary authorizations and coordination of service plans with parties. The charge for these services is added to the total cost of the funeral arrangements you select. However, this charge is typically not added for direct cremation, direct burial, forwarding of remains or receiving of remains because the prices for those services commonly include this charge.

Direct Cremations

The average costs of direct cremation through a funeral home ranges between $1,600 to $5,500, while if the cremation is performed through a crematory it is typically a lower cost. These costs generally include the local transfer of remains to the funeral home, staff services, securing of necessary authorizations, basic local transportation to the crematory, a basic container for cremation, and the return of the remains to the funeral home. The direct cremation prices do not include the crematory charge.

Direct Burial / Immediate Burial

Prices for an immediate burial without a ceremony and scheduled at the funeral home’s convenience may range between $3,000 - $5,000. These charges typically include basic services, removal of remains, a particle board box and local transportation to the cemetery. If you supply a casket the price will be less. Direct burial prices do not include cemetery charges.

Additional Costs

In addition to the above costs, there may be other services or products that are necessary depending on the circumstances. One of these main fees is a casket or container, which may be required, or you can provide your own, and varies in costs from $400 to $15,000, depending on the materials used or how decorative it may be. Another service is transportation, including moving the remains to the funeral home, forwarding to another funeral home, and in some instances out of state transfer fees. Also, the fees for a hearse and limousine or alternative vehicle to drive the immediate family from the funeral home to the burial site.

Depending on state law, embalming may not be required. Certain funeral arrangements such as viewing or an open casket funeral, may require embalming, while direct cremation and direct burial do not. In addition, preparation of the remains, unless selected, is not required for direct cremation or for direct burial.

Lastly, depending on the religious ceremony or requirements there may be additional services or products that can be arranged with the funeral provider.