Hire a funeral home

Organize a Funeral

Like any purchasing decision, there are several factors to consider when choosing a funeral home. Price shouldn't be the only one.

That said, prices can certainly vary between funeral homes for the same products and services, so it's important to compare different providers and feel confident in a final decision.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Before getting started, assess your budget. There's no need to borrow money or go into significant debt for a funeral. Take into consideration what you normally would when making important purchasing decisions.

Find funeral homes near you in the module below, and contact those with whom you would like to speak over the phone.

If possible, search for a funeral home that isn't too far from the deceased's final resting place, their home, or their friends and family.

If the conversation with the funeral home goes well, visit the location in person. Meet with the funeral director, ask more questions, and get a tour of the facility.

When visiting, ensure that:

  • You feel comfortable with the funeral director and their staff
  • They provide the type of services you need at a budget you can afford
  • The facility's conditions are adequate and to your liking
  • Its rooms are large enough to handle the number of friends and family expected

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know It may help to have multiple people attend an on-site visit, so that the surviving family can feel comfortable with the decision, and to ensure that no question will be unasked or answer misheard.

Ultimately, you may feel the need to choose quickly, but take your time, because comparing providers can lead to better choices. Make sure you're getting exactly what you need.

Helpful Tips


Funeral directors are not only great resources to help guide a purchase decision, they're a wealth of expertise that can help in many other ways related to the funeral or managing life after a death in general.

Do not hesitate to ask a funeral director for emotional or logistical support, or ask any question, no matter how taboo or personal it may seem. Chances are, they've probably heard it before.

Additionally, because funerals are incredibly personal, you or the deceased may have wanted the affair to have some personalization. For this, too, feel comfortable asking the funeral director what requests can be granted.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know Since you may have many questions when speaking over the phone or in person, write a list of questions ahead of time so you can refer to them during the conversation.

Feel free to take notes during your conversation so you can easily refer back to them, and so you compare answers from other funeral homes.

Some of the more common questions asked include:

  • What services do you provide? Which are most often purchased?
  • Which products are required by law? Which are optional?
  • Can you help me write an obituary?
  • Can the funeral be personalized? In what ways?
  • Can you help me get certified copies of the death certificate?
  • What type of audio/video equipment is accessible? Can you record or livestream the ceremony?
  • Do you help coordinate gifts or donations made in lieu of flowers?
  • What happens to the flowers after the ceremony?

It's challenging to say how much a funeral costs because fees can vary greatly.

Prices depend upon where the funeral will take place, the services required, and additional products purchased.

Based on national averages, a "typical" funeral burial ceremony can cost between $7,000 and $10,000.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgImportant This doesn't include many other required products and services purchased outside a funeral home, like those for a cemetery, cremation service, or legal and financial providers.

Regardless of your financial situation, it's important to know that what is spent on a funeral has no impact on how meaningful it can be to you, friends and family. Make decisions based on what you're comfortable with.

Core fees A foundational cost is often presented as a single, bundled line-item because the Funeral Rule allows providers to charge a "baseline fee" to cover basic services common to all funerals.

The baseline fee is about $2,000 - $3,000 and it includes:

  • Funeral planning
  • Securing permits and copies of death certificates
  • Preparing required notices
  • Sheltering and preparation of the deceased's body
  • Coordinating arrangements with the cemetery, crematory, or other third parties

Additional costs This baseline fee does not include optional products and services which, when added on top of the baseline fee, can increase to more than $7,000.

They include:

  • Embalming and other optional preparations
  • A funeral or viewing ceremony
  • Post-funeral memorial services
  • Cemetery fees (plot, services, burial vault)
  • A graveside service
  • Cremation services
  • Caskets, alternative burial container, or urns
  • Transportation of the deceased's remains
  • Use of hearse or limousine
  • Flowers or paper stationery
  • Obituary notices
  • An officiating clergy
  • Musicians

See a full list of prices from the National Funeral Directors Association


The most affordable options to purchase are those which only take care of the body, known as "direct" cremation and burial.

Choosing these would leave any funeral and memorial service planning to you and others.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know Organizing these events yourself may not only help reduce costs, but provide you with more options for a venue, food and beverage services, and any additional personalization.

Direct cremation

  • Shortly after the death, the body is cremated
  • Does not include viewing or visitation
  • Will use a more inexpensive alternative container
  • Ashes can be kept, buried, or scattered
  • $1,000 - $2,000

Direct burial

  • Basic services to transport and prepare the body
  • Does not include embalming, viewing or visitation
  • Does not include a funeral ceremony or memorial service
  • Does include a more plain, low-cost casket
  • $2,000 - $3,000

As previously described, there are many ways to receive funding for a funeral. Similarly, there are many ways to reduce costs of a funeral service.

Avoid spending "emotionally" While difficult, try not to "emotionally overspend." Buying the most expensive products doesn't necessarily honor the deceased any more. Resist the pressure to buy any product and service you don't want.

Compare prices Make sure to compare prices from at least two funeral homes. This will not only provide confidence in the decision, but also educate you to other possible products and services.

Caskets A casket is often the most expensive item needed for a "traditional" funeral. Caskets can vary widely in price, anywhere between $1,000 - $10,000, but the variation is mostly aesthetic: no casket will prevent decomposition. Additional costly features, especially those within the casket that you cannot see, will not change much about the burial.

Rental casket If the deceased will be cremated, you may rent a casket from the funeral home for a visitation and the funeral ceremony.

Additional tips

  • Purchase a casket or urn from a third party (funeral homes cannot charge for this)
  • Don't accept a bundled package that includes items you don't want
  • Always ask to see a price list (funeral homes are required to provide this)
  • Reduce the amount of time available for a viewing ceremony
  • Dress the deceased in their own clothing rather than purchase from the funeral home

Death and funerals are such esoteric subjects that not knowing much about them makes sense.

As a result, it's easy to believe common myths that have developed over time. However, they can be harmful for a person navigating the process.

Here a few of the more common ones to be on the lookout for:

You must hire a funeral home

  • Not true
  • In most states you can legally care for the deceased's body at home for several days, and call a funeral home or crematory when ready
  • And in 41 states you can manage the full end-of-life process yourself, including final disposition
  • In this case, you will need to familiarize yourself with your state's laws

Embalming is required by law

  • Not true
  • In most states, it’s not required at all, under any circumstances
  • If there's a delay before final disposition, then refrigeration can be used instead
  • A funeral director must inform you when embalming is not required
  • Funeral directors will insist on embalming if an open-casket viewing is requested, but only for aesthetic reasons
  • The only other circumstance where it's legally required is if the body is going to be crossing certain state lines (though this can be contested due to religious reasons)

Embalming helps to protects your health

  • Not true
  • In fact, the chemicals used for embalming are often toxic and can create a health hazard themselves

Embalming helps prevent decomposition

  • Not true
  • The embalming used by funeral homes will only be effective for a week
  • No matter what, a deceased person's body will decompose

Reinforced caskets protect body decomposition

  • Not true
  • More expensive, "protective" caskets may help keep the elements out for some time, but they do not last for very long
  • Decomposition of the body is a certainty

Burial vaults are required by law

  • Not true
  • But most cemeteries require them to prevent the grave from sinking in after decomposition of the body and casket
  • Burial vaults are also not required for cremated remains

Cremated remains must be placed in an urn or buried in a cemetery

  • Not true
  • You can use whatever container you want to hold cremated remains

As outlined in the previous chapter, there are a number of factors that need to be initially considered when choosing a funeral home.

  • The decision may have already been made by the deceased (e.g., a pre-paid funeral home arrangement, or outlined in a funeral trust or insurance plan)
  • The deceased's final disposition may require a certain type of funeral home (e.g., if the deceased will be cremated)
  • Religious affiliation may require a certain type of funeral service and funeral home (e.g., one that caters to Christianity, Catholicism, or Judaism)

Personal Considerations


Will the deceased's remains be buried?


Consider a funeral home associated with a cemetery, or near a desired cemetery.

Speak with the funeral home about transporting the body, as they most likely include the cost within their services fee.

For burial, you’ll need to purchase additional products such as a casket, headstone, and any additional services required by the cemetery.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about choosing a cemetery, read the "Choose a cemetery" task.


Consider a funeral home that has an on-site cremation service, or one that has relationships with a crematory.

If you have chosen to work directly with a cremation service, speak with the funeral home about how they will coordinate with the provider.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about choosing a cremation service provider, read the next task, "Hire a cremation service."


If the deceased's remains will be buried:

Consider a funeral home associated with a cemetery, or near a desired cemetery.

Speak with the funeral home about transporting the body, as they most likely include the cost within their services fee.

For burial, you’ll need to purchase additional products such as a casket, headstone, and any additional services required by the cemetery.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about choosing a cemetery, read the "Choose a cemetery" task.

If the deceased's remains will be cremated:

Consider a funeral home that has an on-site cremation service, or one that has relationships with a crematory.

If you have chosen to work directly with a cremation service, speak with the funeral home about how they will coordinate with the provider.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about choosing a cremation service provider, read the next task, "Hire a cremation service."

Actions to Take


Learn more about your consumer rights for purchasing funeral products and services


Read more about how to save money on a Funeral

Providers to Contact


Funeral Homes Near You

A funeral home is a business that helps people plan and administer funerals. They can provide a place to hold the funeral, assist with the arrangements, and help plan the service.

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Estate Attorneys Near You

Estate attorneys can help with any questions about the Funeral Rule or if you have a dispute with a funeral home. They can help with every step of the estate administration process and advise you of any relevant laws.

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Organize a Funeral