Dollars and Sense

Everybody cares how much a funeral costs. And everyone has a financial limit. The goal is to get the most value for your money, while doing what’s right for your family.

Funeral costs can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, it depends on the services you choose. The price for a direct cremation without ceremony, will cost considerably less than a funeral service with visitation, embalming, and a casket and burial vault. The funeral home will give you a general price list. Study it thoroughly, make all of your necessary choices, then carefully review the written statement that lists the charges for your selections. Remember, your funeral director is a trusted resource. If something does not make sense, or if you have questions, request a thorough explanation. Ask as many questions as you need, until everything has been explained.


Funeral service charges usually fall into three categories:

  • The services of the funeral director, or other provider. This includes the services of the funeral director and staff; embalming and/or other preparation of the body, if needed; use of the facilities required for a visitation or ceremony; and vehicles, such as a hearse or limousine.
  • Merchandise purchased, such as a casket, outer burial enclosure (or “burial vault”), cremation urn, acknowledgment cards, guest book, etc.
  • Service fees charged by others, such as the cemetery or crematory; newspapers; clergy; florists, musicians and others. Usually, the funeral home will help to coordinate these services, but be aware that charges may not appear on the funeral home statement. These parties may need to be paid directly, possibly prior to the funeral or final disposition of the body.

Who Really Determines the Cost of the Funeral?

You determine the cost of the funeral. It helps to have a sense of what you want prior to meeting with the funeral director. When you meet, stick to your, or your family’s, wishes and do not hesitate to omit unnecessary or unwanted items. Again, if something does not make sense, always ask for an explanation. Decisions should be based on your needs, and that is what determines the final cost. A quality funeral director will prioritize your family’s needs and will work with you to do what is best for your family.

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