funeral expenses

Funeral Expenses

Expected Funeral Home Charges by Item

Low, Medium and High Ranges

Funeral Expenses

funeral expenses

Ways & Ideas to lower Funeral Expenses

A Funeral is often the biggest unplanned expense.  The Casket is the single largest purchase. With that said, the Casket is the biggest opportunity to reduce the total cost.  

Compare with our online prices

Save $1,000, $2,000, $4,000 or more!  By law Funeral Homes can’t charge you a “handling fee” to use one of our Caskets.  By the Casket online and have it ship directly to the funeral home.  

Free Advice for Lowering Funeral Expenses

There are websites dedicated to helping consumers find low-cost funeral services in their area. offers free instant quotes for Funeral Services. 

The Funeral Consumers Alliance provides tips and a state-by-state directory of organizations that help consumers save money on funeral arrangements in their area.

The Cremation Alternative

The cremation rate in the United States has been increasing steadily.  The national average rate has risen from 3.56% in 1960 to 48.6% in 2015.  Projections from the Cremation Association of North America forecasts a rate of 54.3% by 2020.

The Federal Funeral Rule states that Funeral Homes cannot require a Casket for a cremation. They must offer other choices, including a simple cardboard box.

Cremations with Services average $3,500 – far less than half of the average traditional funeral.  The Urn can cost as little as $20.  Amazon offers a very wide variety.  Check selections below:

Ways & Ideas to lower Funeral Expenses Continued…

Skip Embalming

The median cost of embalming is about $750.  No state law requires embalming. Refrigeration is an acceptable alternative to embalming. Funeral homes charge around $50 a day for refrigeration.

Decline the “Gasketed” casket

These caskets are equipped with a gasket.  The gasket is supposed to provide a better seal.  A better seal is meant to better withstand the underground elements.

In grief, people are drawn to products based on how comforting they seem. A “protective” casket sound like a better way to care for the departed. The gasket costs only $8 to manufacture but will raise the price of a casket by $400, $800, even $1,200.  From a practical standpoint, a “sealed” casket really isn’t necessary. 

Select a Low Cost Material

For the record, there’s no law that requires a Casket be used at all.  The Casket is meant to simply provide a way to move and display the departed.  However when choosing to use a Casket, as many do, follow the below Cost Illustration.  Note – Bronze and Mahogany are the most expensive materials. Whereas 20 gauge Metal and Paper Veneer are the least expensive.

funeral expenses

Material selection Continued…

If you’ve decided on cremation, you won’t have to purchase a Casket at all. Instead, you will be able to go with an “alternative container.”  By alternative, this means an inexpensive, unfinished box. Pressboard, cardboard and canvas are commonly used materials.  For viewing, the Funeral Home will usually rent out a casket for about $50 to $75.

Donate to a Medical School

There are normally no costs for the family if the departed is donated to a medical school. Donation typically occurs directly after death. The school covers all costs including transportation of the body.  Some schools will coordinate memorial services for the families. Cremated remains are returned to the family at the conclusion of the medical school’s study, which lasts one to two years.  The National Family Services Desk operates a free body donation referral service during business hours  – call 800-727-0700 .  The University of Florida has compiled a list of body donation sites in the United States.

Consider an At-Home Funeral

Yes, and it’s perfectly legal to have the funeral at home — from start to finish. You can complete the death certificate, file it, care for the body (at home) and transport to the final resting place. In the past, most families did exactly that until the turn of the 20th century.

BEWARE !!! – The states Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, and Utah have laws making the “at-home funeral process” difficult without the involvement of a funeral director. In these states, for example, you will likely have to pay a funeral director to obtain a burial transit permit.


Funeral Expenses paid with Savings

Many people choose to set aside savings for their end of life plan. There are several potential pitfalls using savings as follows:  

  • Savings can be dipped into for other unexpected financial circumstances such as health or financial issues

  • Funds may not always be readily available when they’re needed, e.g. 3 month CD

  • Funds on hand can often be insufficient due to inflation and other surprise price increases

  • Savings are included as a part of one’s Estate. This means costly taxes.  

Funeral Expenses paid with Life Insurance

Term Life Insurance is a simple and affordable way to pay for funeral expenses. Upon your death, it is considered a liquid asset.  A liquid asset is not part of your Estate and cannot be taxed like savings are.  A Liquid asset is essentially cash.  Similar to cash, it can be used widely and freely. Certainly for things such as the burial plot, funeral/memorial services, casket, headstone, and burial/cremation expenses.

Funeral Expenses paid with Funeral, Burial and Final Expense Insurance

Funeral/Burial/Final Expense insurance is an insurance policy specifically designated to cover the predetermined cost of your inevitable funeral. Typically, exact dollar amounts are negotiated with today’s prices.  These prices are fixed and will not change over time.  This hedges against inflation.

These insurances are a great option for those who don’t want to pay huge insurance premiums for life insurance.  The primary benefits include:

  • Lower monthly premiums;

  • Coverage from $2,500 to $35,000;

  • Application eligibility up to the age of 85;

  • No medical exam required;

  • Those with health issues may still qualify;

  • Premiums never change; and

  • The policy accumulates a cash value.

Funeral Expenses paid with Pre-Need Trust Agreements

An alternative means of prepaying for your funeral is through a Pre-Need Trust Agreement. A Trust account is designed to provide protection against inflation as well. Trust accounts are organized payments made for future funeral cost.  Fixed payments are deposited in a bank/trust company over time. Like savings, the balance earns interest.  Unlike savings, there are no tax consequences upon withdraw.   

There are larger “Pooled Trusts” offering more competitive rates of interest.  Often these are state-controlled Trust Funds.  Specific regulations vary from state to state. 

Trusts also come in another form called an “Irrevocable Trust.” These trust funds are strictly marked for funeral expenses.  They cannot be spent anywhere else.  These funds are not considered a taxable financial asset. This is beneficial when applying for Medicaid or other social services because it cannot be counted. 

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