Frequently Asked Questions



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Funeral & Cremation Costs

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What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?

If you have a complaint or are otherwise dissatisfied, first try contacting the funeral home that provided the services. If you cannot resolve the matter with the funeral home, there are several organizations you can contact for help.

Depending on the nature of your complaint, one of the following agencies may be able to assist you:

You may also contact your state Attorney General’s office or local consumer protection agency:

What does an average headstone cost?

The price of a headstone will vary depending on the material, where you purchase it, and cost of time and labor to cut and engrave the stone. On average, you can expect to spend anywhere between $400-$1,700 for a granite headstone.

What are my options to ship cremated remains?

In the United States, the shipping of human or animal cremated remains can only be handled by the United States Post Office. FedEx, UPS or other carriers do not ship cremated remains. Priority Mail Express is the only current option for sending cremated remains via the USPS.

What is the average cost to fly cremated remains back home?

If you are considering flying with the cremated remains, check the individual airline policy, and whether there is a fee. Most airlines will allow you to transport cremated remains, either as air cargo, or as carry-on or checked luggage. Read the Transportation Security Administration policy on carrying cremated remains.

The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) offers general guidelines for transporting cremated remains on domestic and international flights.

What does it cost to ship an embalmed body back home by air?

The cost can vary widely due to several factors. The body will usually be shipped by cargo plane, and the shipping cost is calculated according to the weight and the distance between the point of origin and the final destination.

The funeral home is legally required to make the air shipping arrangements. Shipping charges, combined with the expense of embalming and other service fees from the funeral home, may add several thousand dollars to the funeral cost.

What is the average cost of a casket?

The average casket costs slightly more than $2,000. The cost of a casket can run as high as $10,000 if you choose a mahogany, bronze, or copper casket.

What is the General Price List and why is it important?

The General Price List (GPL) is a written, itemized price list that every funeral home is required by law to provide to consumers upon request. It lists all the items and services that the funeral home offers, along with the cost of each item or service. The list is yours to keep.

What are my rights under the Funeral Rule?

The Funeral Rule gives you the right to:

  • Buy only the funeral arrangements you want.
  • Get pricing information over the phone.
  • Get a written, itemized price list when you visit a funeral home.
  • See a written casket price list before you view the caskets.
  • See a written outer burial container price list.
  • Receive a written statement after you select what you want, but before paying for it.
  • Get an explanation in the written statement from the funeral home that describes any legal cemetery or crematory requirement that requires you to buy any funeral goods or services.
  • Use an alternative container instead of a casket for cremation.
  • Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn you buy elsewhere.
  • Make funeral arrangements without embalming.

Read detailed information on your rights under the Funeral Rule.

What is the FTC Funeral Rule?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, “The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), makes it possible for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select, whether you are making arrangements when a death occurs or in advance. The Rule allows you to compare prices among funeral homes, and makes it possible for you to select the funeral arrangements you want at the funeral home you use. (The Rule does not apply to third-party sellers, such as casket and monument dealers, or to cemeteries that lack an on-site funeral home.)”

Why are funerals so expensive?

A traditional funeral involves a number of services which add to the total cost. Besides a non-declinable basic services fee, other charges may include:

  • Removal/transfer of the body to the funeral home
  • Embalming and other preparation of the body
  • Use of facilities and staff for viewing
  • Use of facilities and staff for the funeral ceremony
  • Use of a hearse, service car, or van
  • A basic memorial printed package
  • Metal casket and a vault or grave liner
  • Purchase of a cemetery plot

What does the average funeral cost?

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a traditional funeral is approximately $7,045. This includes the cost of embalming and a metal casket. The purchase of the grave site and a burial vault or liner can add as much as $3,000 more to that cost.

How big a price difference exists with cremation compared to standard ground burial?

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a traditional funeral is approximately $7,045. This includes the cost of embalming and a metal casket. The purchase of the grave site and a burial vault or liner can add as much as $3,000 more to that cost.

In contrast, a cremation with basic services (no funeral) costs about $3,190, while a cremation with a funeral costs about $4,700.



Do people choose cremation mainly to save money?

There are a number of reasons why cremation is increasingly becoming the first choice for final arrangements. While it is true that cremation is significantly less expensive than a traditional burial, other factors also influence the decision process. They include:

  • A growing acceptance of cremation, both from a secular and a religious standpoint.
  • A population that is increasingly mobile, less likely to settle in the area where they grew up, with fewer ties to tradition.
  • A growing attitude toward cremation as a more environmentally responsible choice.
  • Greater flexibility in memorialization options.

What is the average cost to inter an urn in a columbarium?

The average cost to inter an urn in a cremation burial space or columbarium is $995.

What is the average cost of a direct cremation?

Direct cremation, in which the body is cremated and the ashes returned to the family, with no funeral or other services added, is the most simple, and least expensive, option.

Depending on the region in which you live, a direct cremation can cost as low as $600 in some areas (Florida and Nevada, for example). However, in most parts of the United States, the average cost is about $1,000.

The best way to find out the average cost of a direct cremation in your area is to contact local funeral homes and crematories, and ask each for a quote on a direct cremation with no additional services. Ask questions to make sure that the price you're quoted is not part of a package, which can significantly increase your cost.

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