The Final Cost: Your Guide to Financing Funeral Arrangements

cemetery-1758349_640Death isn’t a fun subject, but when it comes to finances, it’s essential to prepare for. The cost of funerals and burial services continues to rise, and many families find themselves unprepared for steep payments during their time of grief. From interment costs to casket expenses, there are a bevy of financial stipulations to expect after someone’s passing, and this guide will help you break down these expenses.

Cremation versus Burial

If your loved one did not designate a preference regarding cremation or burial, you have some decisions to make. While many base the decision on religious beliefs, there are other factors that play into the final choice, namely, expenditures related to each. Traditional burials include interment services and viewings. With embalming, casket purchase, cemetery costs, and transportation essentials, burials tend to be the more expensive of the two options. In contrast, cremation requires a simple container, cremation services, and interment should you so choose. To put it in numbers, the average cremation costs around $2,000 to $4,000, while a traditional burial can easily cost anywhere between $8,000 and $12,000. While these prices are obviously subject to change depending on your location and desired services, there’s a marked cost difference between these two options.

The Basic Services Fee

Funeral homes are allowed to charge a basic services fee, which includes services found in all funerals, meaning permits, copies of a death certificate, embalming, viewing services, and shelter of remains. All funeral homes charge this fee, but the cost can range. Remember that funeral homes are a business; it’s important to shop around and find the best deal, because it could mean saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Finding the Casket

If you do elect to go with a traditional burial, you’ll need to purchase a casket. Coffins and caskets can run the gamut in terms of cost; inexpensive options like unfinished wood may cost a couple hundred dollars, while the more refined caskets made of mahogany or metal with plush insides can cost upwards of $10,000. There is one way to cut costs when shopping for a casket; no funeral home can require you to buy their caskets. There are laws and provisions in place in most states that require funeral homes and directors to allow for burial in the casket of your choice, though they may charge a fee for using your own. To find inexpensive caskets, head online to They often ship directly to the funeral home, and are generally hundreds of dollars cheaper than what you’ll find in the funeral home itself.

Cemetery Costs

If you’re interring the casket in a cemetery, you’ll generally pay at least $2,000 dollars for both space and the process of both opening and closing the grave. Most cemeteries were once owned by nonprofit organizations, but today most are owned by for-profit corporations, meaning you can expect rising costs. You’ll also need to consider the cost for a headstone or grave marker. Depending on which area of the cemetery the body is to be buried, there may be requirements about the type of stone you buy. Many funeral homes can coordinate the purchase of a burial plot and headstone, but it generally costs more as the home will take a commission.

Covering Funeral Expenses

If you know that your loved one has prepared for these costs, it’s important to take stock of all of their insurance policies, and determine what is covered under their separate plans. Many assume life insurance can be used to pay for the cost of burial, but the funds from these types of policies may instead be allocated to outstanding medical and housing bills. Your loved one may have purchased burial insurance policies designed to help with funeral costs, and the coverage from these types of plans can save you thousands of dollars. If there were no policies in place, you may need to consider fundraising. Sites like GiveForward make it easy to raise money for final expenses, and will help you honor your loved one’s memory.

The cost for funerals and cremations in the United States continues to skyrocket, and it’s important to determine how you and other loved ones will handle the expenses related to these services. Use this guide to help understand the financial aspect of this life event, and make it easier to plan a funeral during a time of grief without depleting your bank accounts.

Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of

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