A large headstone in a cemetery

Costs of Common Burial Options

The death of a loved one is always tough. Because of the bereaved family's state-of-mind, it’s easier to be taken advantage of by the funeral industry. Knowing what to expect regarding costs can help you or those you love in more ways than one.

It's important to do all you can to prepare for this sensitive and difficult time. If you take initiative early on, then you can make arrangements to cover the cost after you pass on. If you've recently lost someone, knowing how much you should expect to spend can protect you from any unscrupulous businessmen who may try to take advantage of your family.

  • Casket
    Caskets range from $1,000 to $10,000, with the average being about $2,000. Prices can fluctuate based on the material chosen as well as the size or design. The Federal Trade Commission passed "The Funeral Rule" to keep funeral homes from taking advantage of customers. Therefore, funeral directors must now provide a list of caskets offered, along with their prices. In addition, customers may make the purchase from a third-party supplier rather than from the funeral home. The funeral home is not allowed to charge an additional fee if customers choose to exercise this option.
  • Decor
    Family members of the deceased traditionally purchase one or more floral arrangements for display at the funeral. Flowers can come in various arrangements and sizes. The most common types are the standing easel wreath display and the coffin spray display. Prices can range from $100 to $600, depending on the types of flowers included and the size of the arrangement. A modest arrangement can be purchased for $100 to $200. Slightly more elaborate arrangements fall in the $200 to $400 range. Lavish arrangements fall between $400 and $600. Beware of ordering flowers online, as you could receive a substandard shipment. If at all possible, order from a local florist so that you can handpick the arrangement and know ahead of time what you are purchasing. You can still have the florist deliver the arrangement, even if they are local. This fee may be $5 to $15.
  • Cemetery
    There are two main types of cemetery plots: public and private. Public plots are the least expensive of the two, with an average cost between $200 and $1,000. Private plots run from $1,000 to $2,000, with prices up to $5,000 for plots near premium scenery locations, and double that price for lawn crypts. Veterans of the armed services can be buried for free in a national cemetery, though the cost of the funeral and other services is not included. Other costs may include a burial vault or liner for protection once the coffin is in the ground, which can cost $400 to $5,000. The fee to open and close the grave can range from $350 to $3000, depending on whether the plot is private or public.
  • Headstone
    A grave in a plot might be marked with a headstone, which is typically made of granite rock and stands vertically on top of the grave site. The price can range from $1,000 to $10,000. A cheaper option is to use a grave marker, a flat plaque that lies on the ground. Its price can range from $250 to $2,500. The prices vary based on the material used, shape of the marker and the lettering and carvings used for engraving.
  • Cremation
    Some studies estimate that nearly 40% of Americans are choosing cremation. Cremation is a more cost-effective option than traditional burial--the whole procedure typically only costs $600-$3,000. You should call around to different funeral homes or crematoriums in your area for estimates. Being cremated also gives you even more ways to honor your loved one as their ashes could be spread in a place dear to them, incorporated into jewelry like a cremation ring, or even planted in a biodegradeable urn. 

The cost of a funeral can quickly add up because of all the optional and required services or items that might be required. The most important consideration is to avoid making emotional decisions. Stay within your budget and plan a funeral that you and the deceased can be proud of.

Last Updated: February 05, 2015