Death might be the very last thing on your mind, but it is never too early to start settling your final affairs and wishes. With the rising costs of funeral expenses, many Americans find themselves torn between burial and cremation as the final form of disposition they choose. Traditional burials allow for slow and natural decomposition, whilst cremation is the process of reducing the deceased body to ash and bone fragments within a matter of hours. Aside from choosing between being buried or cremated, you must also take embalming, transportation, and facilities into consideration. In this article, we examine the average funeral costs to help you prepare for the decisions and investments to come.

A Closer Look at Funeral Costs

According to the Federal Trade Commission, which provides consumer information based on industry standards and developments, funeral costs usually include the basic services fee from the funeral director, permits, copies of death certificates, shelter and transportation of the remains, embalming or preparation, and any memorial products used to commemorate the deceased. Depending on the degree to which you plan to prepare for a funeral, the costs will keep adding up. Your funeral home can take some of the burdens off your plate by buying directly from outside vendors on your behalf to reserve flowers, obituary notices, officiants, musicians, and much more. Your funeral home may very well try to apply a cash advance or fee, but it is also required to report any refunds, discounts, or rebates to you.

Thanks to the National Funeral Directors Association, we have access to up-to-date records that validate the rise in costs associated with funeral preparation. Refer to the following median costs of funeral preparation in 2017.

  • Funeral home services fee: $2,100
  • Removal and transfer of remains: $325
  • Embalming: $725
  • Preparation of the body: $250
  • Use of facilities for viewing: $425
  • Use of facilities for funeral ceremony: $500
  • Hearse: $325
  • Service car or van: $150
  • Memorial: $160
  • Casket: $2,400

Median Cost of a Funeral = $7,360

There are many variables that can affect the price of a casket, memorial plaque, or funeral facility. If your loved one wished to be cremated instead, you might find that a viewing and cremation are much more affordable than planning a traditional burial. Cremation caskets average around $1,000, more than half the price of a traditional casket. Urns are even more affordable, ranging from $100 to $500 depending on the material. These estimates also fail to include costs associated with traveling to and from the memorial service, providing catered food to guests, and finalizing any details. We recommend rounding up to the next thousandth dollar amount, just to ensure that you can make a loved one’s memorial as special as can be.