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What Factors Determine the Cost of a Funeral?

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You may be shocked to learn the median cost of a funeral with burial has increased 6.5%, and the median cost of a funeral with cremation has increased 7.3% over the past five years.

However, when you consider the common services that go into planning a funeral or memorial service—from transportation to preparation of the body–it’s easier to understand how costs can add up.

Over the years, funeral homes and crematories have expanded their services to meet the needs of both today’s cost-conscious consumers and those looking for more personalized final arrangements.

For more information on the various factors that influence the final cost of final arrangements, continue reading below.

1. Transfer of the Deceased

Following a death, the selected funeral home or crematory will arrange for transportation of the deceased to the facility. If requested, they will also arrange for transportation to the final resting place following services.  

Depending on the location, the provider may charge more if the death occurred outside of their service area. They may also charge a bariatric fee if the deceased was above a certain weight.

Depending on these variables, this can cost $175 or more.

2. Dignified Care of the Deceased

Most funeral homes and crematories will also charge for care of the deceased. This may or may not include embalming.

In most cases, embalming is not required for simple cremation or direct burial. This is because these methods take place immediately following a death, with no service beforehand. However, if the family chooses to have a public viewing or gathering with the body present prior to the burial or cremation, the provider may require embalming.  

Other preparation items may include:

  • Sanitary washing.
  • Restorative art to recreate natural form and color.
  • Dressing.
  • Hairdressing.
  • Cosmetology.
  • Casketing, or the placement of the remains in a casket.

For a breakdown of these individual services, ask for a General Price List (GPL) from the funeral home or crematory you’re arranging services with.

Depending on the preparations, this can cost $300 or more. If embalming, this generally costs $800 or more.

3. Services of Licensed Professional and Staff

When planning funeral arrangements, most facilities will charge for basic services of the funeral director and staff. This includes, but is not limited, to:

  • Consulting with the family.
  • Coordinating service plans.
  • Securing official documents.
  • Sheltering of the deceased.

When arranging services, be sure to ask if this fee is included in final charges, or if it’s a separate expense.

Depending on the provider, this can cost $2,000 or more.

4. Services Selected

Funeral homes and crematories also charge for the use of their facility when conducting services.  

Services options may include:  

  • Use of facilities and staff for funeral, memorial or visitation.
  • Use of facilities and staff for same-day visitation and funeral service.
  • Use of facilities and staff for private family viewing.
  • Use of staff, equipment or transportation (ex: hearse, limousine, family car, funeral escort) for graveside ceremony.
  • Use of facilities and staff for same day visitation and graveside service.

Costs may increase if you request additional staff members, such as a Certified Funeral Celebrant.

Costs for services will vary, sometimes greatly, depending on what you choose—simple, partial or full cremation, or a funeral, gathering, memorial or visitation.

5. Funeral Merchandise

Funeral prices can flex up or down depending on the merchandise purchased, and typically include costs for a burial or cremation container.

Containers for burial and cremation include:

  • Casket.
  • Outer burial containers for caskets (grave liner or burial vault)
  • Cremation casket.
  • Ceremonial casket.
  • Cremation urn.
  • Air shipment tray.
  • Alternative container. 

Cremation containers are usually cheaper than burial containers, so make sure to ask for a complete list of containers from the provider before making a purchase.

Depending on the merchandise purchased, this can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $12,000.

6. Rememberance Goods

Additional funeral fees may include remembrance goods. These can be used to create a personalized tribute that reflects the life and legacy of your loved one.

Common goods include, but are not limited, to:

  • Remembrance items (decorative keepsakes, jewelry, thumbprints, necklaces, memorial candles, flowers, personalized portraits).
  • Stationary products (register book, memorial folder, acknowledgement card, service bulletin).
  • Tribute video.
  • Personal displays.
  • Air shipment tray.
  • Catered event.

It’s important to note that some of these items may be included in the facility fee, so be sure to ask your provider what accommodations or features they offer. A facility with an on-site remembrance center provides families with the opportunity to choose from a variety of service personalization options, so all fees are charged under one bill with a clear price.  

Rememberance goods typically start at $50 depending on which goods are purchased.

Want to Save Money on Funeral Costs? Download the Seniors' Guide to Funeral Arrangements.

Knowing funeral prices are continuing to rise, you can lift the emotional and financial burden from your family by preplanning. For more information on the benefits of preplanning, download the Seniors’ Guide to Funeral Arrangements to learn how preplanning can save you and your family time, money and worry.

Download our preplanning guide

Jim Busch
Jim Busch
Owner and president of our firm. Fourth generation funeral director and certified crematory operator, Jim is guided by his principles in faith, family and friends. He loves to hear feedback from our families. Proudly serving Busch families since 1986.

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