by Funeral Home Resource Team
Just as with any service, you pay for a person’s ability, experience and expertise in planning funeral arrangements. And, as with any service there are some charges that are not negotiable (generally) or that are not optional. The funeral industry is no different. All funeral homes will charge you an administrative fee of some kind, which covers care of the body until disposition as well as the use of the funeral home staff.
Some funeral homes may require that require a body be embalmed if you wish to have a viewing. While embalming is not legally required in any state if the body is buried or cremated within a short time period after death occurs, embalming the body does help preserve its appearance- which can be especially important if there is an open casket or viewing at the funeral service. There are instances however, where a body is required to be embalmed and this will be in writing at the funeral home.
The single most expensive item in a funeral service is the cost of the casket. Caskets can range in price from several hundred dollars to over $15,000. Funeral homes want you to buy the casket from them, as they have a high profit margin, however- Federal Law mandates that funeral homes can not refuse a casket if you choose to purchase elsewhere. Also included in funeral costs is the grave liner or burial vault. These are created from concrete in most all cases, although a grave liner is much less secure than a vault. Cemeteries will commonly require some type of outer enclosure, and a grave liner will fulfill most all requirements for cemeteries.
Cemetery costs such as the plot and headstone are also incurred in total funeral costs. These can vary based on whether or not you use a private cemetery, if the deceased was a veteran and entitled to certain benefits, and many other factors. The funeral director you work with while planning the funeral will be able to tell you about specific costs associated with opening and closing of the grave as well as any other charges the cemetery has. If cost is a factor (as it is for most people), feel free to have your funeral director give the prices and costs associated with different cemeteries in your area. This is especially useful if you do not have a preference for which cemetery is going to be used.
If the remains are cremated, you will find costs are generally much less expensive. Cremation costs eliminate the need for a casket, which as discussed above, are a significant portion of the funeral costs. With cremation, you have memorial options much the same as with a traditional funeral- so if you choose to have no viewing, or a small, limited service, the cremation costs can be quite affordable. Also with cremation, you do not have to purchase a cemetery plot and pay for the transportation to the cemetery, a headstone, or other cemetery costs, if you choose not to. You can keep the cremated remains, or have them scattered, or have them interred in a cemetery. Even having the remains interred in a mausoleum can be less expensive than traditional cemetery burials. Many people choose to keep the cremated remains in the family home- which would eliminate any cemetery fees. Because cremations costs are so flexible and generally affordable, the popularity of cremations has increased tremendously over the years.
Federal law requires that funeral homes give detailed pricing on all funeral arrangements or cremation arrangements. You should receive an itemized list of the costs associated with a funeral and all related services and options before you sign any contract, and have time to review them before making your decision.