What Does A Funeral Cost Today?

One of the more difficult life considerations is planning funeral arrangements, but most of us avoid this topic. We prepare for everything in our lives, but few people investigate final burial details. So, I decided to research the cost of a funeral.

How Much Does A Funeral Cost? Per the NFDA the medium funeral cost is $8,755,  but the average funeral cost in 2019 will range between $6,000 to $20,000. However, this number can change drastically depending on decisions made related to funeral planning choices.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

National Median Cost - Itemized
Funeral Planning Choices
Point To Consider When Buying a Casket
How Much Does A Casket Cost

Planning a Funeral Reception
What Are The VA Burial Benefits
What Are The Social Security Death Benefits
How to Determine the Exact Cost of a Funeral
What is the FTC Funeral Rule
 

The Average Cost Of a Funeral - Itemized Work Sheet

Description

Cost

 
Funeral Home’s Basic Service (Non-declinable) $2,100  
Transporting Remains To Funeral Home $325  
Embalming $725  
Preparing The Body (Makeup / Hair Styling / Etc) $250  
Facilities - Staff To Manage A Viewing $425  
Facilities - Staff To Manage A Funeral Ceremony $500  
Hearse $325  
Service Car $150  
Basic Memorial Printed Package $160  
Metal Casket $2,400  
Vault $1,395  
  Subtotal - NFDA The Medium Funeral Cost $8,755  
     
Cemetery Plot $3,500  
Headstone (Grave Marker) $1,500  
Flowers (Casket Spray) $250  
Clothing For The Deceased $150  
After Funeral Repast Dinner $2,000  
Interment Fees $1,500  
Clergy $500  
Musicians $150  
  Subtotal - Items Not Included In NFDA Cost $9,550  
     
     Total Estimated Cost $18,305  

Note: The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) estimate of $8,775 ONLY INCLUDES the cost that the funeral director receives. Expenses such as: Cemetery Plot, Headstone, Flowers, Repast Dinner, etc can exceed and additional $9,000.

Funeral Planning Choices:

  1. Traditional Funeral. Most traditional funerals are held in a Church or Place of Worship frequented by the deceased. This type of service requires a hearse to transport the body to the venue. A religious service will then be held with prayer readings and possibly speeches made by loved ones and friends. After this, the body is driven to a burial site where it is lowered into a grave. The grave is usually marked by a headstone that can be simple or elaborate depending on the family.

  2. Green Funerals. Many people today are striving towards living eco-friendly lives and burial is a part of this process. Green funerals are gaining popularity and are held in natural settings, set aside for this purpose. The choice of casket would be biodegradable. These funerals are embellished with wonderful flowers and creations of nature. Traditional headstones are not allowed, in their place, rocks, stones, plants or trees can be used as grave markers.

  3. Memorial Services. Some families may opt for a private burial with only close loved ones present. These services may or may not involve religion. A simple reading could be made - perhaps a poem or a special tribute written by a friend. The family would then arrange a memorial service at a later stage for friends and colleagues to attend.

  4. Specific Religious and Cultural Services. Certain religions call for a very specific type of funeral with traditions that have come down through the ages. Jewish, Hindu, Islamic, African and Sikh are some of these. Guests would probably be advised to find out about the protocols before attending, especially if you are not familiar with these religions and cultures.

Points to Consider When Buying a Casket

The time after a loved one or friend has passed away is difficult and emotional. You are faced with a myriad of choices when it comes to burial caskets. In stressful times, this can be overwhelming, especially when time is of the essence.

The type of casket, material, design and shape is an overriding factor that will guide your decision. Cost is often a huge issue for many families with limited funds.

Decide on a budget.

Caskets can vary from a few thousand to tens of thousands of Dollars. Set a budget and ask the funeral home to advise you on coffins that fit into your range.

Wooden Caskets

Caskets come in a choice of expensive, highly polished Cherry finishes, Mahogany, Walnut and natural satin-finished Oak. These beautiful woods are known for their aesthetic appeal and are often chosen for high-end funerals. On the lower cost scale, you will find Pine, Poplar and veneer caskets that are significantly cheaper. They come in a choice of wood stains, ranging from light to dark.

Metal Caskets

The cost ranges from highly expensive to less expensive. Bronze and Copper are considered to be the highest quality available in metal caskets. Stainless Steel caskets are less expensive and you also have a choice of standard steel at the lower end of the range.

Casket Interiors

Vary in price and luxuriousness. The most popular materials are satin, velvet or crepe. Casket interiors are designed to blend in with the exterior finish and there are a wide variety of color choices available.

Casket Lids

Come in a choice of two styles, Half couch and full couch. The first offers a split lid that allows viewing of the top section of the body. The latter opens fully and allows a full view of the body. Half couch lids are the more popular option.

Special Features

Options can be included in some caskets, depending on your budget. Memory drawers are an excellent feature that allows you to add a sentimental memento or ornament that was special to the deceased. Casket corners can also be customized to reflect the life of the deceased and can be engraved with an emblem like a golf club, soccer ball or firefighting badge.

How Much Does A Casket Cost?

After an extensive review of caskets being sold online the average cost of a casket is $2,400, with the lowest being $700 and the highest list price of $17,900. In addition, some custom caskets can exceed $50,000.

Casket Description

     

Metal Caskets

Low

High

 
Metal 20 Gauge (Non-Sealer) Caskets $700 $1,000  
Metal 20 Gauge Casket $1,000 $1,600  
Metal 18 Gauge Caskets $1,300 $1,900  
Metal 16 Gauge Caskets $3,000 $3,400  
Stainless Steel Casket $2,900 $4,100  
Solid Cooper Casket $4,200 $4,600  
Solid Bronze Casket $5,400 $7,700  
Solid Hardwood Casket $1,000 $2,700  

Wood Caskets

Low

High

 
Solid Pine Casket $1,500 $2,900  
Solid Pecan Casket $2,700 $3,000  
Solid Maple Casket $2,800 $3,500  
Solid Oak Casket $2,400 $3,700  
Solid Cherry Casket $3,000 $4,900  
Solid Walnut Casket $4,700 $5,200  
Solid Mahogany Casket $4,100 $17,900  

Specialty Casket

Low

High

 
Oversized Casket $2,100 $7,900  

Unfortunately, funerals are usually planned in times of sadness and emotional stress. Strive to focus on what your loved one would have wanted and avoid incurring costs that the family cannot afford.

Planning a Funeral Reception

Deciding to have a Reception after a funeral or memorial service will depend on the wishes of your loved one or very often, on the costs involved. Receptions are customary but not required, and it is usually left up to the family or close friends to decide on what is best during this very emotional and stressful time.

Receptions offer people a time to mourn, remember, share, talk and also celebrate the life of the deceased. They are usually held in a less formal setting like a family home, in the Church, a hall or a garden setting. Whatever you decide, costs are always a factor and can range from a few hundred Dollars to thousands of Dollars for a high-end affair for hundreds of guests.

Here are some considerations for planning a reception.

  1. Your budget is the first consideration. If money is not an option, you can choose to appoint a high-end company to arrange the entire affair from the venue to the food and décor. If money is limited, a group of friends or even the Church volunteer group can work together to set up a small reception.

  2. The number of guests. If you are planning on having a large number of guests, consider hiring a venue for your reception. For a smaller affair, the Church foyer, patio or garden can be used. Close friends can meet at the family home or home of a friend. Open parks and public places are free of charge and will accommodate a small group.

  3. Food is a requirement and can vary from an expensive restaurant-style buffet or sit down meal, to informal plates of food. If costs are an issue, ask friends and family to bring along a plate of finger food or a cake – they will be well received.

  4. Music always enhances a gathering but is not a requirement. For an up-market event, the family will guide the planners as to what type of music the deceased enjoyed. For a smaller affair, you can choose to play a few tracks that were special to your loved one.

  5. Decorations are not a requirement. Up-market affairs can be decorated with themes that reflect the lifestyle of the deceased. For more informal gatherings, flowers are a lovely choice but are not a requirement.

  6. Keepsakes can be offered at the end of the reception. Time pressure and money always is a consideration. You can provide your guests with a keepsake that will remind them of the deceased, or you can choose not to. A simple option is to allow people to tell stories that are heartfelt, meaningful and will make others smile!

Whatever reception you decide on, try to ensure that it reflects the lifestyle of the deceased and avoid incurring costs that will burden the family in a time of stress.

Related Questions:

What are the VA Burial Benefits? - Currently, the VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses and all of the cost of transporting the deceased if the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery. Contact the Veterans Benefits Administration for current benefits, eligibility requirements, and online burial benefits application.

What is the Social Security Death Benefit? Social Security pays a lump-sum death benefit of $255 and the spouse may be eligible for ongoing Monthly Social Security Death Benefits.  Visit your Local Social Security Office or call 800-325-0778 to determine exact benefits and eligibility.

How to determine the exact cost of a funeral? The best resource I found on Calculating the Actual Cost of a Funeral is FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION Consumer Information. Print this form and take it to several funeral directors.

What is the FTC Funeral Rule? The Funeral Rule requires you to give consumers accurate, itemized price information and various other
disclosures about funeral goods and services. In addition, the Rule prohibits Funeral Directors from:

  • Misrepresenting legal, crematory, and cemetery requirements;
  • Embalming for a fee without permission;
  • Requiring the purchase of a casket for direct cremation;
  • Requiring consumers to buy certain funeral goods or services as a condition for furnishing other
    funeral goods or services; and
  • Engaging in other deceptive or unfair practices.

If the funeral director violates the Funeral Rule, they may be subject to penalties of up to $41,484 per violation.

Link to the Federal Trade Commission - 2018 Funeral Rule PDF Document

How Much Does a Mortician Make? According to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016 39-4031 Morticians, Undertakers, and Funeral Directors wage estimates

Percentile 10% 25% 50%
(Median)
75% 90%  
Hourly Wage $13.44 $17.67 $24.08 $31.79 $40.38  
Annual Wage $27,950 $36,750 $50,090 $66,130 $83,980