Here's How You Can Easily Understand Funeral Home Costs
The cost of a funeral can be broken down into three main categories: the Basic Services Fee, the costs of any additional services or goods, and cash advances.
Basic Services Fee
The Basic Services Fee, sometimes referred to as the "Basic Services of Funeral Director and Staff," is for funeral homes’ required services and any overhead costs associated with those services. Basic services and the Basic Services Fee are non-declinable, but will vary from company to company. Generally, “basic services” include:
- Filing any necessary paperwork
- Securing any necessary permits and copies of the death certificate
- Properly storing the remains
- Coordinating arrangements with the cemetery, crematory, or any other third parties
- Overhead expenses related to the funeral home facility and operations
For burial and cremation, the Basic Services Fee is a flat-rate charge and may not vary, regardless of the types of arrangements you choose. However, there are four cases in which the Basic Services Fee may vary:
- If the funeral home’s only role is to receive remains
- If the funeral home’s only role is to forward remains
- If you are planning a direct burial
- If you are planning a direct cremation
In these four cases, the Basic Services fee may be less than the normal Basic Services Fee. However, some funeral homes may charge a flat-rate Basic Services Fee for all services, including the four listed above.
Be aware that many funeral homes try to have fairly low Basic Services Fee, as the Basic Services Fee is often used as a price indicator. However, the funeral home may make up for the decreased Basic Services Fee in higher prices of goods and services.
Additional Services And Goods
Additional services and goods are items that the funeral home offers for an additional fee, and are available at your discretion. These goods and services may include:
- Embalming or cosmetic preparations of the body
- The use of a funeral home or cemetery chapel for a viewing or visitation, funeral service, or memorial service
- The use of a hearse, limousine, or other transportation
- A casket, outer burial container, or urn
- Burial clothing
The purchase of all additional goods and services are at your discretion. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule, you have the right to purchase any goods elsewhere and the funeral home may not charge you a fee for using those goods. However, many funeral homes will require certain services based on the services you choose; for example, should you choose to have a viewing or visitation, the funeral home may require you to have the body embalmed.
Cash advances are fees charged by the funeral home for any goods or services they may purchase on your behalf from third-party vendors. These goods and services can include:
- Cemetery or crematory charges
- Compensation for clergy or other service officiants
- Musicians, including organists, pianists, and soloists
- Car rentals, including limousines and police escorts
- Obituary-filing costs
Some funeral homes may charge you the cost of these items, while others may add an additional fee on top of the cost of these items. If the funeral home charges you an additional service fee, they are legally required to disclose that to you, though they are not required to disclose the amount they are charging. They are also required to inform you of any discounts or refunds they have received from their suppliers on any cash advance items.
Average Funeral Home Prices
Though prices at funeral homes can differ greatly, here are some average price ranges to help you get a sense of how much things cost.
ItemPrice RangeNotesBasic Services of Funeral Director and Staff$1000-$2500This expense is non-declinable, but price may vary based on whether you’re having a burial or cremation versus a direct burial or direct cremationEmbalming$400-$700Never legally required, though may be required with the purchase of other servicesOther preparations of the body$200-$400Includes makeup, hairdressing, putting the body in the casket, and is an add-on to embalming; cost may be higher if an autopsy has been performed
Facilities, equipment, and staff:
ItemPrice RangeNotesUse of funeral home facilities and staff for viewing at funeral home$250-$500May implicitly include embalming and other preparations of the bodyUse of funeral home staff for viewing at another location$250-$400Embalming may not be requiredUse of funeral home facilities and staff for funeral or memorial service at funeral home$350-$700Cost is may be higher than holding the funeral elsewhere because you’re paying for the funeral home chapelUse of funeral home staff for funeral or memorial service at another location$300-$500 Use of funeral home staff for graveside service at the cemetery$250-$400May implicitly include fees for setting up the gravesite for the service
ItemPrice RangeNotesTransfer of the person who died from place of death to funeral home$200-$400If you’ll be having a funeral with the body present, this is usually unavoidableTransportation of the body to the cemetery or crematory from funeral service site$250-$350If you’ll be having a burial after a funeral, this is usually unavoidableUse of limousine for transportation of family$150-$350This is entirely optional; you may drive your own carUtility van/flower car/lead car$100-$200This is entirely optional; you may drive your own carCharge for forwarding remains to another funeral home$1400-$3000Implicitly contains the receiving funeral home’s charge for receiving remainsCharge for receiving remains from another funeral home$1000-$2500Implicitly contains the forwarding funeral home’s charge for forwarding remains
ItemPrice RangeNotesTent and chair set-up at cemetery/gravesite$100-$150The cemetery may offer this service as wellCharge for keeping the body at the funeral home (per day)$100-$300Charges may begin immediately or after a certain number of daysCharge for refrigerating the body (per day)$50-$100May be in addition to the daily charge for keeping the body at the funeral homeCharge for choosing cremation$300-$400In addition to the cost of the cremation
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