How much does a funeral cost?

Final expenses can be costly. A funeral with a viewing and burial is $7,848 on average, while a funeral with cremation costs $6,970.

Headshot of Alani Asis
Headshot of Julia Kagan

By

Alani AsisContributing WriterAlani Asis is a contributing writer at Policygenius, focusing on insurance company reviews. She is a former Personal Finance Reviews Fellow at Business Insider, and her work has also appeared in LendingTree and Sound Dollar.&Julia KaganContributing EditorJulia Kagan is a contributing editor at Policygenius, where she specializes in life insurance. Previously, Julia was the senior personal finance editor at Investopedia for nearly a decade, a vice president and editorial director at Consumer Reports, the editor of Psychology Today, and the vice president of content at Zagat Surveys.

Edited by

Antonio Ruiz-CamachoAntonio Ruiz-CamachoAssociate Content DirectorAntonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.
|

Reviewed by

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®Kristi Sullivan, CFP®Certified Financial PlannerKristi Sullivan, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, she was a regional consultant at Fidelity Investments for nine years.

Updated|8 min read

Expert reviewedExpert reviewedThis article has been reviewed by a member of ourFinancial Review Council to ensure all sources, statistics, and claims meet the highest standard for accurate and unbiased advice.Learn more about oureditorial review process.

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

Funerals are a meaningful celebration of life — but they can also be a costly burden to those in charge of arranging them. The average expense for a funeral with a viewing and a burial is $7,848. If you opt for a funeral with a cremation, you can expect to pay around $6,970.   

Ideally, you’ll have enough saved to cover a funeral out-of-pocket. If not, a life insurance policy is one way to ensure those costs and any other expenses are taken care of, even if your family’s financial situation changes.

Ready to shop for life insurance?

Average funeral costs by state

The table below gives you an idea of what funeral and end-of-life costs could look like in your state, based on data from the National Funeral Directors Association, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center compiled by Go Banking Rates. [1]

You’ll notice that in states where the cost of living is high — such as New York,  California, and especially Hawaii — a funeral can cost thousands of dollars above the nationwide average.

State

Average cost of funeral

Average cost of end-of-life expenses

Average total costs

Alabama

$6,924

$12,376

$19,197

Alaska

$9,913

$17,720

$27,633

Arizona

$7,845

$14,023

$21,869

Arkansas

$6,800

$12,154

$18,954

California

$10,727

$19,173

$29,900

Colorado

$8,132

$14,536

$22,668

Connecticut

$9,689

$17,318

$27,007

Delaware

$8,357

$14,937

$23,294

Florida

$7,667

$13,705

$21,372

Georgia

$6,924

$12,376

$19,300

Hawaii

$15,203

$27,175

$42,378

Idaho

$7,288

$13,027

$20,314

Illinois

$7,419

$13,262

$20,681

Indiana

$7,001

$12,514

$19,516

Iowa

$7,133

$12,750

$19,883

Kansas

$6,808

$12,168

$18,976

Kentucky

$7,265

$12,985

$20,250

Louisiana

$7,234

$12,930

$20,163

Maine

$8,999

$16,086

$25,085

Maryland

$9,921

$17,733

$27,654

Massachusetts

$10,270

$18,356

$28,626

Michigan

$7,040

$12,584

$19,624

Minnesota

$7,838

$14,010

$21,847

Mississippi

$6,568

$11,739

$18,307

Missouri

$6,885

$12,307

$19,192

Montana

$7,652

$13,677

$21,329

Nebraska

$7,172

$12,819

$19,991

New Hampshire

$8,380

$14,979

$23,358

New Jersey

$9,154

$16,363

$25,517

New Mexico

$6,939

$12,404

$19,343

Nevada

$8,434

$15,075

$23,509

New York

$10,355

$18,509

$28,863

North Carolina

$7,404

$13,234

$20,638

North Dakota

$7,512

$13,428

$20,941

Ohio

$7,195

$12,861

$20,055

Oklahoma

$6,722

$12,016

$18,739

Oregon

$10,424

$18,633

$29,058

Pennsylvania

$7,892

$14,106

$21,998

Rhode Island

$9,247

$16,529

$25,776

South Carolina

$7,512

$13,262

$20,681

South Dakota

$7,748

$13,428

$20,941

Tennessee

$6,986

$12,487

$19,068

Texas

$7,148

$12,777

$19,926

Utah

$7,536

$13,470

$21,005

Vermont

$8,984

$16,058

$25,042

Virginia

$7,869

$14,065

$21,934

Washington

$8,620

$15,408

$24,028

West Virginia

$7,133

$12,750

$19,883

Wisconsin

$7,458

$13,331

$20,789

Wyoming

$7,389

$13,207

$20,595

Collapse table

Funeral expenses can be a source of financial insecurity for grieving families. Many people don’t have funds readily accessible and may have to dip into retirement savings or take out a small funeral loan if they have no assets to cover the costs.

→ Read more about the best and worst cities to die

Breaking down the cost of a funeral

The average funeral costs between $7,000 to $10,000, and it continues to get costlier. According to the Consumer Price Index, funeral costs have risen 227.1% in the last 30 years. [2]

The list below displays the median funeral costs as of 2021, according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA): [3]

  • Basic service fee: $2,300

  • Casket: $2,500

  • Transfer of remains to funeral home: $350

  • Embalming: $775

  • Other preparations of the body: $275

  • Facilities/staff for viewing: $450

  • Facilities/staff for funeral ceremony: $515

  • Hearse: $350

  • Service car: $150 

  • Basic memorial package: $183 

  • Vault: $1,572

Planning your funeral arrangements

When your family is already coping with the loss of a loved one, a threat to their financial security is only going to intensify their grief. You can do your family an enormous last service by detailing in your will — or in separate written instructions left with your attorney, financial planner, or the executor of your will — how you want your funeral to be arranged. 

“Having an open and transparent conversation around end-of-life planning, albeit difficult, is critically important,” says Priya Malani, founder of Stash Wealth.

“While never a fun conversation, it can save everyone a lot of stress in the long run. Having to guess or assume what a loved one might have wanted may end up costing more than they would have preferred to have spent on them.”

For example, instead of a traditional funeral, you may prefer cremation or a green burial. If you don’t lay out these wishes for your loved ones, they’ll never know.

“It’s a really thoughtful [and] caring thing to do — to at least leave a plan,” says Rick Paskin, founder of Funeralwise. If you can put financial arrangements in place with insurance, that’s great, but at a minimum, leave a plan. [It] doesn’t cost you anything to leave behind the plan.”

Cost of cremation vs. burial

Cremation costs less on average than a burial, but the difference isn’t enormous. A 2021 study by the NFDA put median costs for a funeral with a viewing and burial at $7,848, versus $6,970 for a viewing and cremation.

Some states require you to include a burial vault to protect the casket, which will make a burial more expensive: approximately $9,420.

The cost of a viewing and/or memorial service increases the costs of both burial and cremation. If you opt for a direct burial or direct cremation, which doesn’t include any events or memorial services, you’ll spend much less. A direct cremation, for example, can cost about $2,500.

Cost of visitation or wake

A visitation and a wake are similar in function — each gives family and friends a chance to gather and pay their respects. But a wake is more likely to cost more because the body of the deceased is typically present.

If the body is present and the casket is open, there are additional costs associated with preparing the body for viewing and transporting the body if the wake happens outside of the funeral home. 

By contrast, it’s less common for the deceased’s body to be present during a visitation, or if it is, the casket is often closed. Visitation is also often conducted at the funeral home, lowering transportation costs.

Using life insurance to pay for a funeral

The best way to make sure that your family doesn’t end up dipping into their savings or going into debt to arrange your funeral is to set up some financial protection with a life insurance policy.

“If you haven’t planned ahead and made arrangements through insurance or pre-purchasing cemetery or grave space, your family is sort of stuck with it. And the money is due at the time of the funeral,” says Paskin.

Funeral expenses can be high, but there are other costs associated with death that are important to consider when you think ahead about how loved ones would manage after you are gone. Families may be left with bills from end-of-life care. Then, they may need to pay everyday bills and expenses that you had covered for them.

“When somebody dies, that's not the only expense that’s left behind,” says Paskin. There could be medical bills, legal bills, [and] accounting bills. Depending on where they were living, there could still be rent [and] utilities.

Life insurance will pay a death benefit to your designated beneficiaries, which can be used however they please. Extenuating circumstances notwithstanding, the turnaround time to get the death benefit tends to be pretty short, sometimes even within a week of filing a claim.

With the right coverage in place, your family will be able to use the payout to finance your funeral and additional expenses. This will allow them to focus on honoring your legacy.

Other ways to pay for a funeral

Life insurance is an easy and affordable way to cover your funeral expenses, but it’s not the only one. Even providing a small amount of assistance can ease the burden for your family at a difficult time.

“It’s a gift. We always describe it as a gift,” says Lisa Kirchenbauer, founder and president of Omega Wealth Management.

“Whether you just put your wishes in writing, whether you have a contract with a funeral home [or] you’ve picked out your casket. Those kinds of details are all really important, and somebody’s got to decide them. And I can tell you, it’s not a lot of fun, having to decide right after having lost your loved one. So it’s a real gift.”

Final expense insurance

Final expense insurance, also called burial insurance, is a type of life insurance typically used to cover funeral costs. Benefits are just enough to cover end-of-life expenses — from $25,000 to $50,000. Burial insurance also requires little medical information to qualify, so approval is fast.

Payable-on-death (POD) account

A payable-on-death (POD) account is a bank account that pays out to a named beneficiary once the account owner passes away. You can set money aside for your funeral in that account and your beneficiary will get it tax-free when you die. 

Advanced arrangements

It’s possible to make some or all of your funeral arrangements in advance with a specific funeral home or director and even pre-pay for the services. Some funeral homes treat this like a life insurance policy, in which your premiums go toward paying off your chosen services. Be prepared for the risk that your plans could change if the funeral home closes or changes ownership.

Low cost or low income funerals

Many states offer financial assistance programs for people below a certain income threshold. [4] Depending on your state and your financial situation, you could qualify for a small amount of state support. While the amount provided is unlikely to cover a full funeral, it could cover a low-cost direct burial or cremation.

FEMA assistance

Families who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19 may be eligible to get assistance from FEMA of up to $9,000. According to FEMA, [5] this subsidy can cover:

  • Casket

  • Mortuary services

  • Transportation of the deceased 

  • Two death certificates 

  • Burial plot

  • Headstone or marker

  • Interment or cremation

Although the COVID-10 Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration ended on May 11, 2023, FEMA will provide funeral assistance to those who qualify until September 30, 2025.

Ready to shop for life insurance?

Why life insurance is better financial support than your estate 

Leaving assets behind to support your family and cover the costs of your funeral isn’t a foolproof strategy. When you die, your estate generally goes through probate, with funds first paid to creditors for any of your unpaid debts. Then, any remaining amount is distributed as designated in your will.

A life insurance policy can’t be taken by creditors and isn’t subject to probate as long as your beneficiaries can accept the payout. It’s a surefire way to offer your loved ones financial support and usually provides support faster than money that has to go through probate.

“Once you get the death certificate, the process of getting insurance proceeds — unless there's something odd about the death — can come pretty quickly. So it can really make a difference. It may be a little harder for that executor to get access to resources,” says Kirchenbauer.

The best way to prepare your family for your death is to have a solid plan in place. Work with an insurance agent to find a life insurance policy to cover your funeral costs and with an attorney to draft a will that designates your estate and final wishes. You may also want to investigate living trusts and other options.

References

dropdown arrow

Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of oureditorial standards.

  1. GOBankingRates

    . "

    Can You Afford To Die in Your State?

    ." Accessed June 14, 2023.

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

    (BLS). "

    The rising cost of dying, 1986–2017

    ." Accessed June 14, 2023.

  3. National Funeral Directors Association

    (NFDA). "

    2021 NFDA General Price List Study Shows Funeral Costs Not Rising as Fast as Rate of Inflation

    ." Accessed June 14, 2023.

  4. CNBC

    . "

    Some states offer assistance to families unable to afford funeral costs

    ." Accessed June 14, 2023.

  5. FEMA

    . "

    Disaster Funeral Assistance

    ." Accessed June 14, 2023.

Authors

Alani Asis is a contributing writer at Policygenius, focusing on insurance company reviews. She is a former Personal Finance Reviews Fellow at Business Insider, and her work has also appeared in LendingTree and Sound Dollar.

Julia Kagan is a contributing editor at Policygenius, where she specializes in life insurance. Previously, Julia was the senior personal finance editor at Investopedia for nearly a decade, a vice president and editorial director at Consumer Reports, the editor of Psychology Today, and the vice president of content at Zagat Surveys.

Editor

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Expert reviewer

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, she was a regional consultant at Fidelity Investments for nine years.

Questions about this page? Email us at .