What is the average cost of a funeral?

by Mr. Tracy A. Pounders, Attorney and Counselor at Law

PoundersLawFirm lawyers growing business in dallas collin texas

US Army Collection, Flickr.com

When reviewing your estate plan you may also want to consider pre-planned final arrangements for yourself and your loved ones when life ends.  For most of my clients this usually involves a funeral or memorial service with burial or cremation.  Making your personal preferences known to your family and loved ones is important, and lessens the burdens of decision–making  during the difficult time immediately following the death.  Likewise, it is also important to lessen their financial burdens by providing for the costs associated with your wishes.  Thoughtful advanced planning can also be invaluable information for a hospital should you need critical or terminal care.

According to http://www.funeralplan.com/askexperts/funeralcost.html the cost of a funeral followed by a burial will cost around $7,000; if followed by a cremation, $5,000; and immediate cremation prior to a funeral, around $1,000. The  associated costs of a funeral followed by burial are broken down, item by item, by the National Funeral Directors Association (“NFDA”) at http://www.nfda.org/about-funeral-service-/trends-and-statistics.html.  I’ve received comments that these costs may be lower than the costs you should expect to have in the Dallas/Ft Worth metropolitan area market, but they do represent the types of expenses you should expect and their part in the total cost.

2009 Funeral Costs

Cost of regular adult funeral including following basic items. Does not include cemetery, monument/marker costs or miscellaneous cash advance charges such as for flowers or obituaries.

Item Price*
Non-declinable basic services fee $1,817
Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home $250
Embalming $628
Other preparation of the body $200
Use of facilities/staff for viewing $395
Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony $450
Use of a hearse $275
Use of a service car/van $125
Basic memorial printed package $125
Subtotal without Casket: $4,265
Metal Casket $2,295
Vault $1,195
Total Cost of a Funeral with Vault


According to the NFDA the costs of a funeral followed by a burial has increased significantly over the years:

Cost of an Adult Funeral: 1960 – Present

Year Cost of an Adult Funeral
1960 $708
1965 $790
1971 $983
1975 $1285
1980 $1809
1985 $2737
1991 $3742
1995 $4626
2000 $5180
2006 $6195
2009 $6,560

2010 NFDA General Price List Survey.

Some of my clients consider cremation to be a more practical, cost effective option to a traditional burial.  In 2010, approximately 39% of all death services were by cremation, and just under 60% of death services are expected to be by cremation by 2025.  [see http://www.neptunesociety.com/faq/]  If you are considering cremation, or have questions about it, a very good FAQ about Texas cremations is at http://www.claybarfuneralhome.com/_mgxroot/page_10760.php.

Some of my clients have also decided to provide for anatomical gifts for medical research at the time of death.  If you are considering this there are several options.  Your local medical examiner can provide you with information on this, as well as locally endorsed medical, chiropractic or dental research colleges that you may be familiar with.  They may require you to complete paperwork in advance, although there are exceptions in certain cases of hardship or need.  Another option is the Life Legacy Foundation (www.LifeLegacy.org).   Their website provides a great deal of information about their programs and benefits.  If you pre-register with Life Legacy, or your family consents at the time of your death, the Life Legacy Foundation will, within 24 hours of death, at no cost to your estate or family, provide the following benefits:

  • Transportation of the donor from anywhere in the continental U.S.
  • Filing of a legally required death certificate.
  • Family assistance through the aftercare process.
  • A summary packet for the family, outlining the benefits of their loved one’s gift.
  • Return of cremated remains to the family within 4-6 weeks of donation.  [You may also elect for the cremated remains to not be returned to the family, if that is your wish]
  • Treat all donors and donor families with the utmost care, dignity, and respect.

Another cremation option is burial at sea.  The Neptune Society is one of several pre-paid services that perform both the cremation and the scattering of cremains at sea.  See www.NeptuneSociety.com.  And another service will scatter your cremains into outer space and even the Moon (starting 2012/13) – see http://www.celestis.com/.

These are just a few considerations to ponder, and I am not endorsing Life Legacy, the Neptune Society, Celestis or any other organization listed in this post. I am providing this information to you for discussion and educational purposes.  But I would be pleased to discusss these options and others with you in more detail during your estate planning.

Previous post:

Next post: