how much does a funeral cost

How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

If you have recently lost a loved one and wonder how much a funeral costs, it can be challenging to know where to start. 

Many factors come into play when planning a funeral. 

It is essential not only to consider the services of the funeral home but also any other expenses such as flowers, food for guests and clergy, transportation arrangements or accommodations for family members who travelled from out of town.

Planning a funeral can be challenging. But whether you're preparing your service or arranging one for a relative, knowing the costs involved is an essential first step.

This guide will walk you through the typical costs associated with a funeral in Australia and offer advice on where you might get some financial help.

The cost of a traditional funeral usually includes the funeral director's fee, as well as the price of a casket, burial plot, flowers, and transport. 

These items can add up to a significant amount, which will continue to rise with inflation. 

Losing a loved one can not only be a genuinely emotional affair, but it comes with some financial responsibilities. This leaves many wondering just how much does a funeral cost in Australia?

One of the most common questions asked to us is how much their funeral will cost. Here at Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals, we provide low-cost funeral services.

Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this as the funeral cost depends on how simple or extravagant you want the event to be.

Average Funeral Costs in Australia

On average, most funerals in Australia can cost anywhere between $4000 for a simple cremation and $15000 for an elaborate event with flowers, a casket and a notable burial to match. 

However, the median cost of a funeral in Australia is $19000. The average price of a funeral in Brisbane is reported to be $7505.

On average, most funerals in Australia can cost anywhere between $4000 for a simple cremation and $15000 for an elaborate event.

Funeral expenses generally cover several individual items, including the price of a coffin, transportation of the deceased, obtaining a death certificate, burial/cremation costs and permits, funeral director fees and additional costs such as obituaries and flowers.

Most funeral services in Australia offer preselected packages, making it difficult to know how much money you are spending on each item without providing the opportunity to leave out things that are not preferred. 

What's worse is that some funeral homes in the industry are renowned for charging exorbitant fees without any transparency as to what they are accounting for.

Given that most people making funeral arrangements and decisions are in a particularly vulnerable state and are not often in rational thinking mode, they can be taken advantage of when it comes to high funeral costs.

Cost of Cremation Vs Burial

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How much does a funeral cost: Traditional vs cremation costs

Studies have found that 66% of Australians would select cremation over burial when planning their funeral. 

In contrast, only 20% would select burial over cremation, while 14% have no preference. 

Given cremation is preferred by two in three Australians, it's natural to wonder: how much does cremation cost in Australia?

The average cost of cremation in Australia is approximately $3,600, whereas the average cost of a burial is roughly $4,500 (excluding funeral coffin prices, which can cost up to $10,000). 

As such, cremation is typically cheaper than burial in Australia, though prices can vary substantially. 

While cost isn't the only consideration, it is essential to weigh the cost of cremation vs burial when planning a funeral.

Cremation costs generally include the use of the crematorium facilities and staff labour during the funeral. 

You may pay more to receive the ashes in an urn and keep them in a niche or wall; it costs you nothing to scatter the ashes.

Funeral Costs Breakdown

How much does a funeral cost: Funeral costs breakdowns

A 2016 report showed that Professional Services Fees (also known as Director fees) accounted for up to 39% of the revenue generated by funeral companies. 

However, Director fees were considered by the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry to be the least transparent cost associated with funerals.

Coffins and caskets make up 31% of total funeral costs, but reports show that the mark-up pricing can offset other business areas.

The average cost of a burial plot in Australia

Depending on where you choose to be buried, the cost of a burial plot in Australia can vary significantly. 

A high-demand burial plot in a capital city can cost between $10,000 and $20,000 on average. In comparison, a single burial plot in a less 'in-demand cemetery can still cost anywhere from $2,970 to $4,800 on average, depending on the cemetery.

Additionally, a simple memorial plaque can cost between $1500 and $3500, though some cemeteries might include this in the cost of a burial plot.

These prices don't usually include labour costs for opening and closing the grave or ongoing upkeep.

Funeral director – Professional services fee

Funeral directors charge a fee for professional services, namely the time they spend:

  • organising meetings and grief support
  • liaising with cemeteries
  • transporting the deceased
  • embalming or preparing the body
  • organising florists and newspaper notices
  • supplying the hearse and staff for the day
  • completing legal paperwork and documentation.

This is typically a set fee billed to you in advance.

Average coffin prices in Australia

The cost of a coffin or casket is usually one of the most significant funeral expenses, with prices ranging from $800 to more than $15,000. 

In Australia, a coffin or casket usually costs between $1,000 and $4,000. However, high-end coffins and caskets can cost $15,000 or more.

The variation in funeral coffin prices comes down to the quality and detail of the coffin. 

Thankfully coffins are also one of the most accessible parts of a funeral to personalise, as you can decide based on personal tastes as well as cost considerations.

Funeral-service decorations

The personal touches are the things one remembers at a funeral or awake. The flowers, the service booklet, framed photographs, and video projections – maybe even balloons or complimentary champagne – are the things that can define a funeral. 

But they are all likely to cost money.

Of course, you can always make choices based on your budget. You can stick to simple flower arrangements, for example. 

Or you can request everyone bring their favourite photo of the deceased and clip them onto pieces of string.

As a parting celebration, you want a funeral to be memorable. 

You want it to capture that person's life and personality, to elicit a smile from your guests at the mention of fond memory, and to touch the hearts of all who attend to commemorate and commiserate.

Funerals are a tricky business. You want to show the full extent of your love and the depths of your grief for your lost loved one. 

You want to throw a celebration the deceased would be proud of. And that can make you inclined to celebrate their life in style, to go the whole hog, regardless of the costs.

Ultimately, a memorable funeral isn't about the number of flowers in the chapel or the location of the burial plot. 

It's about remembering an extraordinary life that was lived and coming together to celebrate it.

The Average Funeral Costs by City

A 2017 survey revealed the average funeral costs in different Australian cities. The results showed that where you live will likely impact the price of a funeral. 

The most expensive city to hold a funeral was Perth, with an average funeral costing $7,764. 

Funeral costs in NSW are also among the highest in Australia, as Sydney comes in second with an average funeral cost of $7,621, while average funeral costs in Melbourne are $7,586.

Funeral Costs: Australia Vs Global

Compared with other countries, the average Australian funeral is on the lower end of the price spectrum.

In the US, funeral costs can range from AUD 9000 to $13,000[9].

Japanese funeral costs range from AUD 4,000 to $12,000, emphasising the preparation of the service[10]. In contrast, funerals in the UK can cost between AUD 6,000 and $10,000, mainly depending on the region.

What Costs Are Involved With a Funeral?

Here are some of the types of costs you may encounter when planning a funeral. 

Funeral costs vary depending on what state or territory you live in and turn on your local suppliers. 

The figures below are subject to change and are just examples rather than averages. 

Some figures are sourced, and other sources are referenced. Please do your research, as these figures are guides only. 

With that in mind, here are some of the general costs you might encounter when planning a funeral. It's worth factoring them into your planning.

Common costs associated with funerals include:

  • Funeral director fee - $3,000
  • Transfer of deceased to funeral home - $300
  • Storage of deceased at funeral home - $150
  • Preparation of deceased - $200-$600
  • Embalming - $600-$1,400
  • Coffins - $800-$8,000
  • Death certificate - $66
  • Cremation certificate - $110
  • Cremation permit - $110
  • Burial services (graveside service) - $2,000
  • Cremation service (at crematorium) - $600
  • Cremation service with chapel service - $1,200
  • Celebrant - $300
  • Family car - $400
  • Flowers - $200
  • Newspaper notice - $200

Who Can Afford to Pay for Funeral Expenses at Short Notice? 

Although it's not something anyone likes to think about, it makes sense to prepare for your funeral now.

Remember, your funeral will be a challenging and emotional time for your family. Still, you can help make this difficult time easier for them by taking out funeral insurance to help cover the cost. 

Preparing for your funeral is one of the more responsible things you can do for those you leave behind, as you are taking the risk of the potential financial burden away. 

After all, you wouldn't want to risk leaving your family with the financial stress of your funeral expenses, especially when they are grieving.

Funeral insurance pays a lump sum benefit to your loved ones when the time comes, which helps them to say goodbye without the added worry of funeral expenses and unpaid bills. Let Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals help you select the type of funeral service that best fits your needs.

Should I Get Funeral Insurance?

Many Aussies, particularly seniors, take out funeral insurance so their families can focus on arranging a fitting farewell rather than worrying about the cost of a service.

You pay a monthly fee, and in exchange, your family receives a lump sum when you die to cover the cost of your funeral. 

It typically suits people who struggle to save independently or can't find an affordable life insurance policy.

Remember, if you have a funeral insurance policy for a long time, you might end up spending more on premiums than you would have on a funeral. 

Thankfully, many insurers have a value promise, which means they'll pay out the exact amount you put in or more as long as you have your policy for at least 12 months.

Benefits of Funeral Insurance 

These are some of the ways Seniors Funeral Insurance can protect your family from financial stress: 

  • A lump sum payout to help cover funeral costs and other immediate expenses.
  • 100% paid to you if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness
  • Claims are paid out tax-free and usually within one business day of completed claim documents being received, so your loved ones get financial support when they need it.
  • You can choose the benefit amount (between $3,000 and $15,000) to be paid in the event of your death or terminal illness.
  • Australian residents aged between 18 and 79 are guaranteed acceptance, with no medical tests required.
  • Bonus cover – at age 85, your body will increase by 25%, and you'll no longer have to pay to stay covered.

How Can I Pay for a Funeral?

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If you want to be able to cover the cost of your funeral, there are lots of ways to do it:

Prepay

Most funeral directors let you prepay and even arrange your funeral. However, if the company goes bust, you might not be able to get your money back.

Savings

Put some money away every month to build a lump sum that your family can use for funeral costs.

Superannuation

Your family may be able to use any money that's left in your super to pay for your funeral. However, it can take a while to access, so they might have to pay upfront first.

Funeral bonds

An investment through a friendly society or life insurer. Funds are exempt from the pension income test, but the funeral director may keep anything your family doesn't spend.

What Happens If You Can't Afford a Funeral?

If you or your family can't afford a funeral, don't worry, you won't have to go into debt to pay for a respectful service. 

Usually, the state will pay for a basic cremation and funeral. Your loved ones will still be able to attend and collect the ashes.

Can I Get Financial Help to Pay for a Funeral?

Maybe. There are lots of different ways Australians can access financial help to pay for a funeral – some might apply to your situation, while others won't:

Local health district. 

You can apply to your local health district for help if you're responsible for a funeral but are in financial hardship. However, any assistance will be provided after the cremation has taken place.

Government benefits. 

You may be able to claim a bereavement payment if you and your partner receive a government allowance and your partner dies or if you receive a carer's allowance for an adult who dies. This isn't specifically designed for funeral costs, but it can help.

Department of Veteran Affairs. 

If the deceased is a veteran, you may be able to get help with funeral expenses from the Australian Government Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA).

Registered clubs. 

Some associations, including the Rotary Club and the Returned and Services League (RSL), may pay a small funeral benefit to help with a member's funeral cost. Trade unions may also deliver a service.

Low-interest loans. 

There is a range of low-interest loans available on the market and even a no-interest loan scheme (NILS) managed by a community organisation. Avoid costly payday lenders if you can.

Which Type of Funeral Costs Less? 

The cost of a funeral service varies widely depending on what you choose. If you're planning your funeral, you'll probably have a budget in mind, and it pays to shop around.

How Much Does Cremation Cost? 

Generally, cremation is cheaper than burial and is estimated to cost between $3,108 to $7,187 in Australia, according to the Cost of Death Report.  

As well as costs, it would help if you thought about whether cremation is an exemplary service for your family. While there is no gravesite that your family can visit, they can scatter your ashes in a place that means something special to you, such as a favourite beach.

You can also choose to have your ashes kept somewhere, such as a memorial wall or garden in a cemetery, for example. While this gives your loved ones a place to visit, it is also more expensive.

How Much Does Burial Cost? 

Burials are often more expensive than cremations. Much of the expense of the funeral is associated with the burial plot. 

The Cost of Death Report reveals that depending on your location and the exact type of service you choose, a premium burial in Australia can cost almost $19,000 in an area of metropolitan Sydney and over $13,000 in both Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. 

Some Australians prefer to choose a burial service over a funeral for religious and family traditions. 

The benefits of this include having a designated site where your family can visit to remember you. 

Your loved ones can also bring flowers and take care of the burial site, which can be very comforting.

Ways to Save on Funeral Costs 

If you would prefer to have a more basic service, there are several ways you can reduce the costs of your funeral:

  • Cremation: Opt for cremation rather than burial to save on one of the highest costs. 
  • Compare: Shop around to compare online and visit various funeral directors to obtain price lists.
  • Basic coffin: Choose a basic wooden coffin if being cremated, as it will be cremated along with your remains.
  • Home service: Hold a memorial service at the house of a friend or loved one (commonly known as awake).
  • Self-drive: Save on funeral cars and limousines by arranging for family members to drive their cars.
  • Share online: Save on the cost of a newspaper notice and share the funeral details online via email/social media. 

The best way to manage funeral costs is to pre-plan. To learn more, see our information on Prepaid Pre-Planned Funeral options.

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