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The average funeral cost in the United States in 2020 was about $9000.  That figure is expected to rise to between $9500 and 12,500 for 2021.  By the way, in 2020 it wasn’t unusual for a family to have spent upwards of $25,000 for a funeral. 

An average (baseline) funeral cost includes the following:

  • Casket or urn
  • Charge for services
  • Embalming fees
  • Transportation of the body

Upgrade costs are encountered for such things as upgraded casket, special style of services and accessories for the service.

Miscellaneous costs are such things not normally associated with a funeral home such as:

  • Some special services
  • Guest lists
  • Obituary

Here is a breakdown and estimate of typical funeral costs (according to the National Funeral Directors Association):

Professional Service Charge $2100
Transportation to Parlor$325
Misc Cosmetic Arrangement$250
Funeral Home Support Employees $500
Facility Usage for Viewing$425
Service Car/Van (for family)$150
Printed Memorial Kit
o Prayer cards, pamphlets, etc.
Metal Casket$2400
Cremation Casket$1000
Cremation Charge$350


Other Costs:

Grave Marker/Headstone$250 to $6000
Funeral Plot $2000

1984 “Funeral Rule” REQUIRES you be informed of the following:

  • Show a list of the rates for the casket.
  • Pricing details can be provided by phone.
  • Just purchase the products and services you want.
  • A comprehensive list of all the products and services shall be given.
  • A product list is given for the outer burial containers.
  • For cremation use an alternate jar.
  • Until submitting any payments be issued with a formal statement.
  • Decline embalming before a funeral.
  • Provide your own urn or casket.


Cremation Alternatives:

National Average Cost for Cremation (2020):   $1000 to $3000
With no basic service fees (Direct Cremation)

National Average Cost for Cremation: $6645
Includes service, casket, urn and cremation fee

Unfortunately, this is a common misconception. 

Here is the official wording from the VA: 

For a NON-Service Related Death, VA will pay up to $796 toward burial and funeral expenses for deaths on or after October 1, 2019 (if hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (if not hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $796 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery).

For a Service-Related Death, VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001, if the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed. 

NOTE: The burial benefit is paid retroactively which means the expenses have to be paid by the family first and, after you submit the required proof and paperwork to VA, a check is issued to the family. 

Yes.  The requirements are listed here:

  • You paid for a Veteran's burial or funeral, AND
  • You have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased Veteran's employer, AND
  • The Veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, AND
    • The Veteran died because of a service-related disability, OR
    • The Veteran was receiving VA pension or compensation at the time of death, OR
    • The Veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation, but decided not to reduce his/her military retirement or disability pay, OR
    • The Veteran died while hospitalized by VA, or while receiving care under VA contract at a non-VA facility, OR
    • The Veteran died while traveling under proper authorization and at VA expense to or from a specified place for the purpose of examination, treatment, or care, OR
    • The Veteran had an original or reopened claim pending at the time of death and has been found entitled to compensation or pension from a date prior to the date or death, OR
    • The Veteran died on or after October 9, 1996, while a patient at a VA-approved state nursing home.

Yes!  Those factors are listed below:

  • Died during active military service, OR
  • Was a member of Congress who died while holding office, OR
  • Was a Federal prisoner


  • Acceptable proof of death as specified in 38 CFR 3.211.AND
  • Receipted bills that show that you made payment in whole or part, OR
  • A statement of account, preferably on the printed billhead of the funeral director or cemetery owner. The statement of account must show:
    • The name of the deceased Veteran for whom the services and merchandise were furnished, AND
    • The nature and cost of the services and merchandise, AND
    • All credits, AND
    • The amount of the unpaid balance, if any

Burial benefits available include:

  • a grave site in any of our national cemeteries with available space,
  • opening and closing of the grave,
  • perpetual care,
  • a Government headstone or marker,
  • a burial flag, and
  • a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family.

Some Veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. Cremated remains are buried or interred in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.

Two excellent sources of information for vets and/or their families:


               Burial Benefits - Compensation (