The average funeral in the United States costs $11,000 or more with these expenses steadily rising each year. And while it's never fun to think about your end-of-life plans, it is important to plan ahead for your funeral so you can ensure your final wishes are carried out and that you can afford the type of service you want.
This is where having a better understanding of the average costs of some of the more common funeral/burial options can come in handy. From traditional burials and natural burials to cremation and everything in between, expenses can vary greatly. Save your loved ones the stress and hassle of trying to plan and pay for your final expenses by planning ahead of time—and making sure money is set aside to cover your burial costs.
Average Final Expenses: What to Expect
There are many factors that will affect the total cost of your desired burial, funeral, and/or memorial service. Some of these factors include your location, the burial plot you choose (where applicable) and the specific funeral services you desire. These numbers are only
Traditional Embalmed Burial Cost
A traditional funeral with embalming and a funeral/burial service costs an average of $11,000. A fair chunk of this average $11,000 cost is associated with the cemetery burial. A burial within a concrete vault (often required) with a headstone
- staffing for funeral ceremony
- hearse and/or service car
- printed materials like ceremony programs and prayer cards, etc
Of course, not everybody will want all of these services. Some may choose to forego a service at the funeral home and instead opt for a brief burial ceremony, for example. Others may prefer not to have a viewing and will thus save on costs related to staffing.
This average doesn't include add-ons such as flowers, which can add several hundred dollars to the budget of a funeral service. It is also worth noting that, in most cases, the average cost of funeral and burial doesn't include the burial plot itself. The average cost of a burial plot can vary greatly depending on the location, but you should generally expect to pay a minimum of $1,000. Many funeral homes will include the burial vault cost with your total funeral expenses (especially if the cemetery requires concrete vaults for caskets)—but if not, you can expect to spend about another $1,400 on the vault itself.
Natural/Green Burial Cost
Another option to consider, especially if you're looking to save money on your funeral and burial, is that of a natural/green burial. There are a couple of main differences between a natural burial and a traditional burial. For starters, natural burials do not involve the embalming process. Furthermore, rather than using a metal or hard-wood casket for
Because the embalming process, concrete vault, and casket involved in a traditional funeral can be costly, avoiding these makes a natural burial much more affordable. Specific prices can vary depending on where you choose to have your natural burial, but the average natural burial cost is usually between $1,000 and $4,000. This may include:
- a burial plot in a natural cemetery
- a stone marker
- grave opening/closing costs
- services from a mortician/funeral home that offer natural solutions
This may not include costs related to holding a funeral or memorial service, as well as expenses related to transporting the body.
For those considering cremation instead of a traditional or green funeral/burial, there are some specific considerations to keep in mind. For starters, the average cost of a flame cremation alone is around $1,100 in most areas. However, this price typically does not include any urn(s) for the safe-keeping of ashes once they're returned. Furthermore, cremation costs do not include any expenses related to a funeral/memorial service, which some people may still prefer to have even with cremation.
Should you decide to hold a memorial service after the cremation is complete, you will need to speak with a funeral home to determine the specific costs, as this can easily add $1,000 or more to your total expenses. Still, when you compare the cost of cremation vs burial, cremation is a much less expensive option.
Options for Covering Final Expenses
Now that you have a better idea of what to expect in terms of funeral costs, you may be wondering how you're going to pay for your funeral/burial. Fortunately, you have plenty of options.
Final Expense Insurance
A final expense insurance policy is specifically designed to cover expenses related to your funeral and burial after your death. Also known as burial insurance, this coverage can provide you and your loved ones with added peace of mind. In terms of burial insurance cost, you can generally expect to pay about $50 per month for this type of coverage—but specific premiums can vary based on a number of factors.
Whole Life Insurance
A whole life insurance policy can be used to cover final expenses. The main difference between whole life insurance and final expense insurance is that the former has a policy that accumulates cash value over time—so not only can it help to cover your funeral expenses, but it can provide a payout to your loved ones as well.
If you want to begin setting money aside for your final expenses now, you can always put the money into what's known as a payable-on-death (POD) account. This allows a designated loved one to access the account immediately after you pass without going through probate court (proof of death in the form of a death certificate is usually required) and use the funds to cover your funeral expenses.
It's Never Too Early to Start Planning
Now that you have a better idea of what to expect for common funeral/burial costs and what your options are for covering these costs, isn't it time to start planning ahead? Cake is a free and easy-to-use platform that makes it easier than ever to document your final wishes and share access with designated loved ones. From advance directives to letters of instruction and more, Cake allows you to clearly document and communicate all your final wishes — and edit them as life changes.