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Cost for a Funeral: What You Must Know

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When someone has passed away, whether suddenly or after a long illness, it is important for the family, friends and the community, to come together to mourn the loss and to honour that person’s life and legacy.

We will explain in detail the costs associated with different funeral services and products.  We will also give you a fool-proof guide on how to find a funeral home that gives you and your family the best value for money.

The good news is that a reputable funeral home can work with a family’s budget, modest or large, to create a beautiful and memorable tribute to a loved one that has passed away.

What is the Typical Cost for a Funeral?

The cost for a funeral will vary tremendously depending on geographical location, as well as the types of services and products that are chosen by the family.

The cost for a funeral service will be higher in densely populated urban areas than in rural areas because the funeral home has higher business overheads.  The cost for a cemetery plot will also be higher in cities than in the country because of higher levels of demand, as well as scarcity.  The cost for printing an obituary in a city or nation-wide newspaper will be much higher than the cost to run an obituary in a small, local one.

Today, the average cost for a funeral (with a traditional funeral service) in North America is $7,000 to $10,000.  (However, in large cities, it can be significantly higher because of the cost of a burial plot, which can be upwards of $20,000.)

The average cost of direct cremation (with no funeral service) in North America is $1,600 and $3,000.

What is the Best Way to Research the Cost for a Funeral?

The exact cost for a funeral (including services and products) is sometimes difficult to ascertain.  Funeral homes and cremation providers often do not advertise prices on their websites.  Some people then spend a great deal of time phoning different vendors and asking for prices over the phone.  In other words, “shopping around”.

This tactic is time consuming and doesn’t necessarily yield the best information.  There are so many variables to pricing and what is and isn’t included in the package offered by a vendor, that it’s very difficult to do an accurate cost comparison based on phoning around.

Furthermore, should cost really be the most important factor when deciding which funeral home should care for the body of your loved one?  Shouldn’t the primary factor be which funeral home has a sterling reputation for genuinely caring for deceased people and their families?

Instead of “shopping around,” a more effective strategy is to:

  • Step 1:  Research funeral homes in the area that offer you the type of services that you want and that have a good reputation.  You can ascertain a funeral home’s reputation by:
    • Doing online research:  Does the funeral home have any customer reviews?  Visit the website of the government department responsible for the licensing and regulation of funeral homes and cremation providers in your State or Province. Do they have any record of complaints being made about the vendor?  Visit the website of local consumer protection agencies, like the Better Business Bureau, to check if the vendor has a trail of dissatisfied customers.
    • Calling government agencies:  Depending on where you live, the government departments for licensing and regulation, and for consumer protection, may not have a website that details the complaints made against a vendor.  In this event, phone the government agency and request the information over the phone.  You will also be able to check if the funeral home or cremation provider has a valid operating license.
    • Asking for recommendations: Ask people you know for recommendations.  If they are unable to provide you with any recommendations, ask the funeral home or cremation provider for recommendations provided by previous clients.
  • Step 2:  Make an appointment with two to four funeral homes that your research shows have a good reputation.  Before your visits, think about what type of funeral services and products would be suitable for your loved one, and about your budget.
  • Step 3:  Visit the funeral homes on your list.  Make sure you explain to the funeral director your vision for the funeral service and your budget.  Take a copy of our cost checklist with you, so that you can write down the prices of the various services and products that you want.  You should also take a notebook to write the funeral director’s answers to other important questions (e.g. how many funeral directors will be working for you on the day) and your general impressions.

During your visit, you should also ask to tour the facilities.  Is it clean and in good repair?  Is the venue large enough to host the number of guests you expect to attend? Do they have adequate parking?  Is the home wheelchair accessible?

You should also ask about the funeral home’s standard policies and procedures for dealing with the body of your loved one.  Also request a copy of their standard contract and the cemetery by-law.

  • Step 4: Make a choice, taking into consideration a number of factors:
    • Your comfort level with the funeral director:  Did he act in a caring and professional manner?  Did she answer your questions satisfactorily?  Was he open to your ideas for the funeral or memorial service?  Did she go through the standard contract and the cemetery by-law with you?
    • The facilities available:  Were you satisfied with what you saw your visit?
    • Cost for a funeral:  Is the cost in line with the other funeral homes that you visited?  If the cost is far higher, why?  Why is the funeral home charging a premium price?  (For example, they might offer a higher quality venue.)  Is the cost far lower?  If yes, why?  Are you compromising quality with this vendor?
    • Terms and conditions of their standard contract:  Is the contract easy to understand?  Is the cost of the services and products, as well as taxes, clearly identified?  When are you required to make payments?

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Breakdown of the Cost for a Funeral

While reviewing the chart below, keep in mind that the cost in cities are typically higher than the cost in rural areas for the same service or product.

Basic Services

Service or Product

Low

Medium

High

Pickup of body

$125 to $200

$200 to $350

$350 to $500

Basic service fee for funeral director and staff

$500 to $700

$700 to $2,000

$2,000 to $3,000

Facility use (including storage and refrigeration of the body)

$35 to $50 per day

$50 to $100 per day

$100 to $150 per day

Death Certificate fees (per copy)

N/A

$10 to $20

$20 to $30

Obituary

$0 to $300

$300 to $600

$600 to $1,000

Body Disposition

Service or Product

Low

Medium

High

Option A:

Cremation

Direct cremation package

$500 to $800

$800 to $1,800

$1,800 to $3,000

Urn

$80 to $250

$250 to $400

$400 to $2,000

Burial of ashes – cemetery plot

$300 to $500

$500 to $1,000

$1,000 to $2,500

Burial of ashes – urn garden

$300 to $500

$500 to $1,000

$1,000 to $2,500

Burial of ashes – columbarium

$300 to $500

$500 to $1,000

$1,000 to $2,500

Grave marker

$500 to $1,000

$1,000 to $2,500

$2,500 to $7,000

Temporary memorial marker

N/A

$20 to $50

$50 to $100

Option B: 

Full Body Burial

Direct burial package

$1,000 to $1,400

$1,600 to $1,800

$2,000 to $3,600

Embalming

$225 to $445

$500 to $680

$800 to $1,212

Other preparation of body (hair, makeup, dressing, casketing)

$50 to $150

$150 to $250

$250 to $350

Casket – cardboard or fiberboard

$50 to $100

$150 to $300

$300 to $500

Casket – wood or metal

$350 to $1,000

$1,000 to $3,500

$3,500 to $12,000

Outer burial container – e.g. vault

$800 to $1,000

$1,000 to $2,000

$2,000 to $14,000

Cost of a cemetery plot or crypt

$400 to $1,000

$1,000 to $4,500

$4,500 to $20,000

Opening and closing the grave or crypt

$300 to $500

$500 to $1,000

$1,000 to $1,500

Grave marker or monument

$500 to $1,000

$1,000 to $2,500

$2,500 to $7,000

Temporary grave marker

N/A

$20 to $50

$50 to $100

Option C:

Donation of the Body to a Medical School or Hospital

Transportation of the body to the school or hospital

$125 to $200

$200 to $350

$350 to $500

Ceremonies

Service or Product

Low

Medium

High

Viewing or visitation fees – funeral home facility and staff fees

$150 to $250

$250 to $500

$500 to $1,175

Clergy’s honorarium or celebrant’s fees

$50 to $100

$100 to $250

$250 to $500

Funeral or memorial ceremony fees

$200 to $350

$350 to $700

$700 to $1,425

Flowers

$100 to $250

$250 to $400

$400 to $600

Graveside service fees

$200 to $350

$350 to $500

$500 to $1,700

Guest register book

$25 to $50

$50 to $80

$80 to $225

Hearse or funeral coach

$150 to $225

$300 to $400

$450 to $530

Limousine or lead vehicle

$75 to $135

$135 to $350

$350 to $500

Service car or flower car

$75 to $135

$135 to $350

$350 to $500

Printed materials

$50 to $100

$100 to $250

$250 to $300

Musicians

$100 to $150

$150 to $250

$250 to $500

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