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Here's How You Can Easily Understand Funeral Home Costs

If you are working with a funeral home to plan a funeral or memorial service, the cost of the 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:

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

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:

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.

Item Price Range Notes
Basic Services of Funeral Director and Staff $1000-$2500 This expense is non-declinable, but price may vary based on whether you’re having a burial or cremation versus a direct burial or direct cremation
Embalming $400-$700 Never legally required, though may be required with the purchase of other services
Other preparations of the body $200-$400 Includes 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:

Item Price Range Notes
Use of funeral home facilities and staff for viewing at funeral home $250-$500 May implicitly include embalming and other preparations of the body
Use of funeral home staff for viewing at another location $250-$400 Embalming may not be required
Use of funeral home facilities and staff for funeral or memorial service at funeral home $350-$700 Cost is may be higher than holding the funeral elsewhere because you’re paying for the funeral home chapel
Use 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-$400 May implicitly include fees for setting up the gravesite for the service


Item Price Range Notes
Transfer of the person who died from place of death to funeral home $200-$400 If you’ll be having a funeral with the body present, this is usually unavoidable
Transportation of the body to the cemetery or crematory from funeral service site $250-$350 If you’ll be having a burial after a funeral, this is usually unavoidable
Use of limousine for transportation of family $150-$350 This is entirely optional; you may drive your own car
Utility van/flower car/lead car $100-$200 This is entirely optional; you may drive your own car
Charge for forwarding remains to another funeral home $1400-$3000 Implicitly contains the receiving funeral home’s charge for receiving remains
Charge for receiving remains from another funeral home $1000-$2500 Implicitly contains the forwarding funeral home’s charge for forwarding remains

Additional services:

Item Price Range Notes
Tent and chair set-up at cemetery/gravesite $100-$150 The cemetery may offer this service as well
Charge for keeping the body at the funeral home (per day) $100-$300 Charges may begin immediately or after a certain number of days
Charge for refrigerating the body (per day) $50-$100 May be in addition to the daily charge for keeping the body at the funeral home
Charge for choosing cremation $300-$400 In addition to the cost of the cremation


State-By-State Health, Legal, And End-Of-Life Resources

Funeral Planning

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