Burial Costs Guide 2021: How Much Should You Pay?
Planning a burial ahead of time can eliminate a significant burden to friends and family grieving your loss.
A big part of this planning process is knowing exactly what costs you are up against.
If you’ve chosen burial is your end of life choice, I’d firstly recommend browsing through our burial planning guide.
In this guide, I will mainly focus on burial costs, how it compares to the cost of cremation, and some other important factors.
Average Burial Costs Breakdown
Effective funeral planning means taking each of these costs into account.
Most funeral homes charge a basic, non-declinable fee for using their services.
The average cost for this basic fee is about $2195.
The cost of a funeral or memorial service can vary greatly depending on what you want.
The average cost for a funeral or memorial service is $500.
Transportation of Body
The funeral home will likely remove the body from the place of death and transport them immediately to the funeral home.
This cost (like others) can vary. But the average cost is about $350.
Embalming is a fairly significant expense which may not be necessary, especially if burial is going to take place shortly after death.
However, you may want to embalm the body if you are planning a viewing/visitation.
The average cost of embalming is $750.
Caskets come in a wide variety of sizes, styles and materials. Be sure to shop around instead of blindly accepting what the funeral home has on offer.
The average price for a metal casket is $2500.
The cost of a burial plot will typically run you between $1000 and $4000, depending on where you live and what kind of cemetery it is.
Keep in mind that most veterans are entitled to a burial plot in a V.A.-certified cemetery.
Here again, great variety exists in terms of the style and cost.
The average cost of a headstone is $1500.
Burial Costs Vs. Cremation
When looking at these expenses, you might consider cremation as an affordable alternative to burial.
Overall, cremation is cheaper. However, it all depends on what kind of service you choose.
Burial With Traditional Service
The most traditional option is a burial accompanied by a funeral service and a visitation/viewing.
The overall cost for a burial with a traditional funeral service is around $15,000.
Burial With Memorial Service
A memorial service can be held before or after burial without the body being present.
The average overall cost to go this route is $10,000.
Cremation With Traditional Service
Some choose to have a traditional funeral service before cremation with the body present.
A cremation with a traditional funeral will generally add up to anywhere between $10,000 and $12,000.
Cremation With Memorial Service
Many costs can be eliminated by holding a basic memorial service after cremation has taken place.
Minus the costs associated with a viewing or a burial, this is one of the most affordable choices, averaging out to a total of between $8000-$10,000.
Burial Plot Costs
As mentioned earlier, many of the costs related to burial will vary depending on your wishes and your budget.
Types of Burial Plots
All burial plots are not the same.
You get to choose what kind of plot best meets your needs.
Single burial plot
This type of plot can accommodate one person in a single casket.
It’s the most common choice, and the one that we automatically think of when we consider purchasing a plot.
Double companion plots
In some cases, two people might plan to be buried together.
This can be accomplished through the purchase of “side-by-side” plots: two individual plots which are next to each other.
Another possibility is a double-depth plot, which allows one person to be buried on top of the other.
Family burial plots
Sometimes a family will reserve a group of plots that are together in one area, so that all members may be buried close to each other.
This can be done through purchasing one area of the cemetery and marking it with a large stone that bears the family name.
Or the family might simply purchase a row of side-by-side burial plots.
Cremation ashes plots
Some cemeteries offer smaller (and cheaper) burial plots which can be used for burial of cremation ashes.
These are usually interred in a cremation urn, which takes up considerably less space than does a casket.
The cost of a burial plot is dependent on a number of factors.
For one thing, burial is more expensive in certain states than it is in others.
Even within the same state, the cost of purchasing a burial may differ from one cemetery to another.
In general, single burial plots are cheaper than double or family plots, but this is not always the case. Sometimes an individual plot may be cheaper when it is purchased along with others.
And finally, the time you buy also makes a difference in pricing. That’s why it’s a good idea to purchase a burial plot ahead of time, so that your family is not at the mercy of price fluctuations when trying to purchase a plot immediately after a death.
State by state
Some of the most expensive states to buy a burial plot are:
Some of the least expensive states for this are:
South Carolina ($1100)
Why is a burial plot so expensive?
The price you’re paying actually covers a number of different services.
The cost of the actual burial plot ranges from $200-$2000 for a single plot in a public cemetery, to $2000-$5000 for that same plot in a private cemetery.
A plot for the burial of cremated remains can cost anywhere from $350 to $2500, depending on what type of cemetery it is.
The cemetery typically charges a fee for opening and closing the grave.
These interment fees average out to between $350 and $1000 in public cemeteries.
In a private cemetery, this fee can cost anywhere between $600 and $3000.
A burial permit is almost always required in order to legally dispose of the body. In fact, most cemeteries will not even allow burials without the necessary permits.
There is sometimes a small fee of less than $20 for securing these permits.
This is likely to be one of the biggest expenses associated with burial, so it’s important to choose a burial casket wisely.
Different Types of Caskets
Caskets come in all kinds of styles in all kinds of materials.
The most popular materials for caskets are sturdy metal and traditional wood.
There are pros and cons to every material or style.
Metal caskets may be crafted of bronze, copper, stainless steel or standard steel.
Bronze and copper are permanent and non-rusting; however, they are also much more expensive than other options.
Stainless steel has some resistance to rust, and may offer better value for money.
Standard steel caskets are the most affordable; they are also very strong and durable.
Wooden caskets come in a great variety.
Walnut, mahogany and cherry are the most expensive and luxurious types of wood, and they can be highly polished for a smooth finish.
Maple and oak are solid choices, too: hard and durable, with a natural look that can be very attractive.
Pine, poplar and veneer are the least expensive kinds of wooden casket available. However, they can be personalized with different colors and different kinds of finish.
These caskets are created using biodegradable materials.
They’re designed to decompose naturally into the earth in a manner that does not harm the environment.
They can be made of soft wood, woven from wicker or crafted of lightweight cardboard.
How much have you budgeted for a casket?
Chances are you can find something suitable no matter what your budget.
A nice hardwood casket averages out to about $4000 while wood veneer is a bit cheaper, only about $3000.
Bronze or copper caskets also come to about $3000; however, in some cases, these caskets can cost as much as $10,000.
Steel caskets usually cost about $2000, and biodegradable caskets average about $1500.
The most economical type of casket is a cremation casket, which usually costs about $500.
Green Burial Costs
Are you concerned about budget as well as the environment?
Then green burial might be for you.
What Are Green Burials?
This is a type of natural burial in which the body is not cremated or embalmed. The casket is made of biodegradable material instead of traditional steel or wood. No burial vault is used.
This allows the body to decompose naturally with marginal environmental impact.
How Much Do They Cost?
Again, costs for this type of burial vary widely from one place to another.
In general, you can plan on an overall cost between $1000 and $4000.
That price includes perpetual care, the opening and closing of the grave, a marker and a burial plot.
The headstone is another item that can drive up the overall price of burial considerably.
But you do have some control over this cost in terms of what kind of headstone you choose.
Headstones come in a number of different sizes, styles and materials.
Here are some of the most popular types of memorial stones.
These are basic flat markers that lie flush with the lawn.
A lawn marker for a single plot typically starts at about $600.
An elegant bronze plaque, engraved with your loved one’s name and relevant dates, can be mounted on a granite base.
The base may lie flush with the ground, or it might be slightly raised.
The cost of a bronze plaque memorial starts at about $795.
A bevel memorial rises slightly from the ground and has a sloping shape.
These are sometimes called “pillows.”
You can expect a bevel marker to cost upwards of $900.
This is the traditional type of headstone that most of us are used to.
It is the most impressive but also the costliest memorial option.
The price of an upright headstone typically starts at about $1200.
Size & Granite Type
Besides the style of memorial you choose, the size and the type of granite that it’s made of also affect the cost.
When choosing a size, be sure to check cemetery requirements.
You will also need to think about whether the memorial is for one person or if you need space for more than one name on it.
You can also choose from a wide assortment of colors for the monument.
Burial Vault Costs
A burial vault or grave liner is used to hold the casket when it’s inside the grave.
These are required by most cemeteries.
A burial vault completely contains the casket while a grave liner only covers the top and sides.
Most burial vaults or grave liners are made of concrete. However, they can also be crafted of steel, copper or bronze.
How Much They Cost
Burial vaults usually cost between $900 and $7000 though in some cases, they can cost as much as $13,000.
Grave liners usually cost between $700 and $1000.
Does paying for burial seem pretty daunting?
Burial insurance could be the answer.
What It Is
This is a type of whole life insurance policy designed to cover end-of-life costs.
It can be used for unpaid medical bills or funeral expenses.
How Much Coverage Do You Get?
Because it’s meant solely for covering end-of-life expenses, most policies don’t exceed $50,000 for coverage.
How Much Does It Cost?
Age and gender are factors in determining how much you will have to pay for burial insurance.
For example, a 50-year-old female in good health can expect to pay $14 a month. The same female without any health questions asked will pay $15.
In contrast, a healthy 80-year-old man will typically make a monthly payment of about $126. With no health questions, that payment rises to about $162.