funeral casket

How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

Cost of cremation and burial and related funeral fees

When planning a funeral, it can be a stressful and emotional process. One of the stress-creating factors can be the cost of final arrangements. Funerals can cost as little as $1,500 to over $20,000, but the price varies dramatically based on selected services. Understanding funeral expenses beforehand can demystify the process and help families make decisions that stay within a budget. Below is a breakdown of common funeral expenses in Canada. 

Standard funeral fees 

Some services are necessary or recommended for funerals. These include transportation, documentation, storage, and professional and staff fees. Although not all may be required, these expenses will likely be included in the overall funeral cost. The breakdown for each service is discussed below. 

Body transportation or transfer

Funeral transportation or transfer involves the movement of the deceased person’s body. This is conducted from the place of death to a funeral home and then the location of final disposition (usually either a graveyard for burial or a crematorium for cremation). 

Transportation is commonly handled by a third-party transfer service hired by the family or by a funeral provider. However, in certain areas, transportation can be handled by the deceased’s family. For example, it is legal to transport a body in a private vehicle in Ontario if it is large enough. In B.C. a private transfer can be done after applying for a license from the province. Check with your provincial government, to find out the regulations in your area.

Prices for transfer services are usually $100 and up. Transportation using a private vehicle would be free or have a minimal cost (e.g., gas). 

Funeral documentation 

In most places, paperwork must be completed before funeral services begin. The documents vary between provinces but often include registering a death and obtaining a burial permit. 

Funeral providers must complete funeral documentation in certain provinces (e.g., Nova Scotia). However, some provinces, like Ontario, allow for it to be completed by the deceased person’s family. 

The cost for death registration and burial permit is often free or minimal (under $20) when completed by the family. However, the cost to have documentation completed by a funeral provider typically ranges from $100 to over $300. 

Body Storage and Preservation

Body storage and preservation fees depend on the type of service chosen. For example, if opting for direct burial or cremation, body storage or refrigeration will only be needed while paperwork is completed (a few days or so). However, if a burial is chosen, the body will be stored for a longer period. Other preservation techniques, such as embalming (chemical preservation), may also be recommended. 

Positive-temperature refrigeration is sufficient if the body is buried or cremated within two weeks after death. Negative-temperature refrigeration combined with embalming may be necessary if the body will be stored for longer periods.

Sheltering or storage fees will be a one-time payment of around $300 or fall within $35 to $100 per day. Prices may vary depending on if positive-temperature or negative-temperature storage is used. 

Embalming costs $200 to $1,000 on average and must be conducted by a licensed funeral provider. 

Professional and staff fees for funeral

Most funeral providers include professional and staff fees in their price lists. These fees are for handling event coordination, logistics, death benefits, etc., and for providing advice and guidance to the family throughout the process. Documentation and transportation fees may also be rolled into this cost. 

Professional fees billed by a funeral provider range from $100 to $1000+. 

Body preparation 

The standard body preparation for funerals is cremation or burial. However, there are nuances to these services that can impact the price. These are explained below. 

Body preparation also includes cleaning, bathing, and dressing the body. These services cost around $100 to $500+. 

Cremation cost

Cremation is a practice in which a dead body is exposed to extreme heat (flame cremation) or chemical reactions (aquamation) that reduce organic matter into bone fragments. The bone fragments are pulverized to create a powder called “cremated remains” or “ashes.” The remains are placed in an urn or container and returned to the family. 

There are two forms of cremation – flame cremation and aquamation. Flame cremation uses intense heat to reduce organic to bone fragments. Aquamation is a water-based process that uses the chemical process of alkaline hydrolysis. The body is exposed to water, heat, pressure, and alkali. This creates a reaction that speeds up decomposition and reduces the body into bone fragments. 

The cremation cost depends on the type chosen, but the difference is not drastic. The fees below may include other services such as documentation, transfers, refrigeration and body preparation:

  • Flame cremation packages can range from $800 to over $4,000. The cremation component is usually $500-$800.
  • Aquamation packages typically range from $2,000 to $4,000. The water cremation component is usually $1000 or more.

Additional funeral services or ceremonies will add to the cost of the pricing above.

Cost of a cremation urn

Cremation urns are used to contain the ashes of a cremated person. Urn prices range anywhere from $10 for a basic plastic urn to upwards of $2,000.  You can see examples of urns in this online urn store.

Cost of a funeral burial 

Funeral burials involve the placement of a body in the ground, then covered with soil and left to decompose over time. The body can be placed directly in the soil, in a casket or coffin, or wrapped in a shroud.

People are frequently buried in a cemetery, but burial can also be conducted in a private family plot, at sea, a green burial site, etc. It can also refer to interment in a public or private mausoleum, which is a large above-ground structure that stores the remains of multiple individuals.

Burial funerals are typically more expensive than cremation funerals. This is because burials include additional funeral services, such as visitation, viewing, wake, committal, etc. These services extend the time between death and burial, so body preservation services are needed, which increases the price. 

Caskets, that contain a body, cost anywhere from $900 to $20,000, but will often fall between $2,000 and $5,000. Caskets can also be rented for $900 to over $2,000. 

Overall, burial packages cost between $3,000 to $12,000 on average. However, this can be reduced with a direct burial because expensive services are limited, causing the price to be lower. Green burials have a similar effect, costing around $3,000 to $5,000.

Cost of funeral interment 

Interment involves a body or cremated remains being buried in the ground or interred in a mausoleum or columbarium. This also includes the scattering of ashes. 

A columbarium is a structure used to store and display urns. It often has designated areas called niches, which hold the urns and features that help remember and memorialize a loved one. 

Interment in a niche or columbarium starts at around $700 for a single niche. Larger niches can cost a few thousand dollars but can fit more than one urn. This is the case with burial plots as well. 

Interring in a cemetery often involves purchasing interment rights, which start at around $400 for an urn. The remainder of the fees is used to purchase plots and other cemetery fees (e.g., maintenance). Overall, burying an urn in a cemetery costs $800 to over $3,000, and interment costs between $700 to over $2,500. 

Burying or scattering ashes outside of a cemetery will cost significantly less because there are no cemetery fees. The only costs to consider would be the cost of cremation and urn purchase.

Burial plots in a cemetery costin the range of $200 and $3,000, but in large cities they can range from $500 to $10,000 or more. Markers and gravestones will also range from $500 to $3000 and in some cases significantly more, based on size and decoration.

Caskets can also be interred in a mausoleum. A mausoleum is a monument designed to house the remains of one or several individuals above ground. The price for interment in a public mausoleum ranges from $3,000 to over $30,000, and private mausoleums cost anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000. 

The cemetery’s location and style of columbarium or urn will also affect burial and interment prices. 

Cost of a funeral ceremony 

Ceremonies or celebrations are another funeral expense to consider. However, prices vary more drastically. 

For example, direct cremation or burial eliminates expensive services, so families will only be paying for the standard burial and cremation fees. In contrast, if a visitation or viewing is held, the cost will include standard fees and the price for the services, longer storage, embalming, transportation to multiple locations, etc. 

Nonetheless, formal ceremonies such as a viewing, visitation, or wake will typically cost $2,000 and up. On the other hand, less formal ceremonies like a celebration of life are likely to be less or potentially free. 

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