Average Final Expense Costs in America

How Much Does a Funeral Cost in the United States?

Many people don’t realize how much a funeral can cost in the United States until they have to pay for one. During an already difficult and vulnerable period in your life, you may be asked to spend tens of thousands of dollars just to give your loved one the burial that they deserve. In fact, the National Funeral Directors Association reports that the average funeral in America today costs between $7,000 and $12,000.

Average Final Expense Costs:

  • Burial plot - $1,000
  • Grave marker - $1,000
  • Headstone - $2,000
  • Grave liner - $500
  • Burial Vault - $1,500
  • Casket - $2,500
  • Hearse - $325
  • Service car/van - $150
  • Cremation fee - $350
  • Urn - $275
  • Basic services fee - $2,100
  • Embalming - $725
  • Preparing the body cosmetically
  • (makeup and hair styling) - $250
  • Facilities and staff for viewing - $425
  • Facilities and staff for funeral
  • ceremony - $500
  • Printed memorial pamphlets - $160
  • Flowers - $600

Burial Plot


Grave Marker or Headstone


Grave Liner or Burial Vault



Cemetery Costs

Cemeteries have their own costs that are separate from funeral homes, and you don’t want to have to face a whole set of additional fees while also dealing with the sticker shock of a funeral or memorial service. In order to prepare financially for a loved one’s passing, families should research and purchase a burial plot (sometimes referred to as a gravesite) ahead of time. In addition to the initial cost for the land, some cemeteries also require a one-time or monthly maintenance fee for general upkeep of the cemetery and for providing visitor amenities.

You will also want to decide whether you want a grave marker or a headstone. Grave markers typically lie flat on the ground and cost around $1,000, whereas headstones are upright and cost an average of $2,000 to $4,000. The price of each depends on the material being used, with natural stone and bronze being the most affordable.

Cemetery burials also require the purchase of either a grave liner or burial vault, both of which are concrete containers where the casket is placed prior to the burial. Their purpose is to support the weight of the earth around the casket to keep the grave from caving in over time. Grave liners typically cost less than burial vaults, since vaults contain additional metal or polystyrene reinforcements designed to keep the elements away from the casket.

While many cemeteries and funeral homes will sell their own grave markers, headstones, burial vaults, and grave liners, they can also be bought from third-party retailers, potentially saving buyers thousands of dollars.

Comparison infographic about outer burial container options

Burial or Cremation?

As final expense costs continue to rise in America, more and more people are opting for cremation rather than burials. Cremation is more affordable than a burial, as you do not have to cover any cemetery-related costs, and you also do not have to purchase a casket.

Caskets are some of the heftiest final expenses in America today, coming in at an average of $2,500 for a casket made of metal or cheaper wood. Higher-end caskets can easily cost $10,000 or more. Funeral homes will often charge high prices for caskets due to the convenience for buyers, who are often in an emotional state. Buying outside of a funeral home can help families save thousands and dollars, and many third-party retailers, such as Amazon and Walmart, can have caskets shipped directly to the funeral which, by law, the funeral homes are required to use without any additional charges.

Burials also require the cost of transportation of the body to the cemetery, whether in a hearse or limousine, which can add an additional $725, as well as the cost of a service car or van to transport guests — $150 on average.

Cremations on the other hand, simply require a $350 cremation fee (prices will vary depending on location) and the purchase of an urn. Urns can be relatively affordable (around $275) or, like caskets, cost thousands of dollars for higher-end models.

If you choose to have a memorial service in addition to a cremation, keep in mind that this can end up costing almost as much as a funeral, due to service and facility fees, embalming, etc.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to opt for a burial or cremation is a deeply personal one; many people will specify their preference in their will.

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Basic Services Fee

All funeral homes charge a nonnegotiable, flat-rate professional services fee, which typically costs around $2,100. This fee covers basic services such as obtaining copies of the death certificate, securing any necessary permits, sheltering the remains, and coordinating the arrangements. It does not include the cost of the casket or any optional services. The professional services fee is the only nondeclinable fee that can be charged by the funeral home.


Memorial services — such as funerals, viewings and wakes — come with additional costs, such as embalming ($725), other preparations of the body ($250), facilities and staff for the service ($500), flowers ($600), and a basic printed memorial package, including pamphlets and/or prayer cards ($160). All of this will be on top of the basic funeral home fee discussed above.

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How to Save Money on Final Expenses

Fortunately, there are several things seniors can do to help their families save money in the event of their passing.

  • Plan a budget and stick to it
  • Know the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule (see section below)
  • Compare quotes
  • Buy caskets and other products from third-party retailers
  • Opt for a direct burial or cremation
  • Hold a green funeral, using biodegradable coffins and natural markers rather than headstones
  • Look into options for an assistance-based funeral in which costs are partially covered by a church, crowdfunding, or other outside source
  • Purchase final expense insurance

Find Exclusive Final Expense Insurance Leads

One simple solution for seniors to protect their families from funeral-related debt after their passing is to purchase final expense insurance. Also known as “burial insurance” or “funeral insurance,” final expense insurance ensures that a senior’s beneficiaries will have the money they need to cover the cost of death and funeral arrangements after their loved one’s passing. Final expense insurance typically has much smaller premiums than regular life insurance, making it a cost-effective option for people whose age and/or health make being able to cover the cost of regular life insurance impossible.

Having to pay for a funeral you can’t afford while already grieving the loss of a loved one can be devastating. Final expense insurance helps protect families from funeral homes that may want to exploit their fragile emotional state by ensuring that a budget is set aside ahead of time for their loved one’s arrangements.

If you’re an insurance agent, agency, or IMO that sells final expense insurance to seniors, then sign up for a final expense leads generation campaign with Need-A-Lead today. Not only do our campaigns help agents improve the lives of seniors, but they also help them grow their businesses and invest in their future. We offer turnkey direct mail solutions for life insurance companies, including customizable mailers, postage, and the prompt return of your 100% exclusive leads, gathered from the best data available. To get started, sign up for a free quote now.