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How much does a funeral cost?

  • 02-21-2019

How much does a funeral cost?

The costs associated with a funeral are related to your arrangements and preferences, but there are some standard guides available.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral in the US is just over $7000+ and when a vault is required around $8400. 

In Canada, The Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries publishes a comprehensive price list that may be very useful as a reference—perhaps review it and also the Funeral Planning Guide (downloadable PDF) from the Ontario provincial government. Your own local area  and state or provincial authorities will also likely have information available on their respective government web sites. Check these out. 

Another excellent source of information is Canadian Funerals Online, which includes a province by province and territorial links to funeral homes across the nation.

In the US—
There is also a sister site that provides comprehensive access and listings for US funeral homes plus useful additional information. 

Some funeral homes are family-owned and operated and others may be part of a corporate entity—it's always wise, however distasteful it may at first feel to do so, to compare prices, whether you're pre-planning for yourself and a partner or spouse, or arranging the details after losing a loved one. Generally speaking, cremation costs up to 75% less than a full burial. Cemetary space for an urn, if this is desired, is also less expensive.

If you're making arrangements for a loved one and no plans were made prior to death, it's often a good idea to enlist a trusted friend or relative to help with the many decisions to be made. Overwhelmed by the grief of the loss, people may sometimes undertake to spend more than they intend.

 Standard charges

There is often a range of charges (see the Mount Pleasant guides for a detailed example)  to cover typical services. These may encompass staff guidance and time spent in helping to determine arrangements and coordinating details with clergy, musicians, organizing vehicles, transportation, and other behind the scenes work. Generally, amounts are incorporated for transporting the deceased from the place of death/which may vary depending on how far it is/ and providing all the various forms that will be required. It may also include prepping the key documents needed for the disposition of a deceased person including Statement of Death, Burial Permit, Coroner's Certificate and provision of Death Certificates (in Ontario, normally 12—other locales will vary). These  are for estate matters, dealing with banks and employers and the government on pension details, etc. One estimate puts a basic service level at about $2000, which includes professional and staff services, documentation, use of facilities, and administration. Caskets, urns, and discretionary services such as use of facilities/receptions, etc., are not normally included in the standard service charge.

Preparation and dressing of the deceased, viewings, embalming or other preparation of the body, pallbearers, transportation of the guests—there are many other costs to be considered plus the basic service charges. It's a good idea to think through what your preferences are in advance before meeting with the Funeral Home or other service provider. Click to access a sample price list for a well-established service provider, the Mount Pleasant Group of Companies.

In general, typical expenses that may need to be covered:

  1. basic service fee (such as guidance, ordering, and administering funeral details)
  2. transportation from place of death and for use in organization/such a registering death certificates
  3. burial casket
  4. embalming or alternative preparation (perhaps for identification or viewing)
  5. hearse/other vehicles including transfer to the funeral home
  6. dressing and presenting (hair and makeup)
  7. viewing--use of facilities and staff
  8. use of facilities/rooms for receptions and services, where applicable/perhaps a host or hostess
  9. Provision of ritual services (such as to coordinate and oversee) for dressing, annointing, and prayers for example
  10. officiant or representative
  11. service/reception (and catering)
  12. death notices in the papers/online
  13. if cremation—an urn and staff services for witnessing when family present
  14. liner
  15. plot — for a casket or for an urn or mauseleom space 
  16. vault 
  17. facilitating transportation 
  18. floral tributes and wreaths
  19. sometimes, customized stationery and components/guest books
  20. Memorial DVD/tribut
  21. tombstone/marker
  22. music/chapel rental

How much are caskets and urns?

These can bary from a simple particle board container with no interior lining for a few hundred dollars to ribbon grained mahogany with a hand-rubbed finish at about $12,000. Many in mourning and in grief and in a desire to show their feelings choose far more pricey options than they intend or that the deceased would wish. This is why pre-planning is often a good ideas—to minimize these decisions for a loved one. A number of options are available for cremations—and in some jurisdictions, these can be provided for temporary use at a viewing or service. Ask your funeral home what is available/and give yourself time to ponder.

It is possible that you may also wish to rent a casket or provide one of your own choosing—today the burial process is much more personalized than in the past. If you are choosing or purchasing your own, confirm that this is acceptable to your service provider. Note that some caskets cannot be used for cremation, because they are made of materials that will not burn. The casket must also meet cemetery and crematorium by-laws

There are various ways to personalize a casket to reflect the loved one's interests or values—spiritual emblems or symbols and pastimes. Your service provider will be able to advise on what is permitted in your cemetery.

Disposition options vary between cemeteries for in ground (interment) and above ground burial and may include crypts and mausoleums. You may be able to make arrangements for two caskets for planning ahead or for multiple or family arrangements. Options will most likely be available for cremated remains—single or double/and family niches as well as cremation graves, with space for two urns or family plots. You may wish to scatter the ashes in a favoritie place or in a garden of remembrance—the funeral home will be able to advise. Many families ask for small keepsake urns to share and others prefer to keep the urn with them.

Markers and memorial stones or plaques will be another consideration.



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