How much does a funeral typically cost?
A 2017 study by finder.com.au found the average funeral cost in Australia to be $7,075*. The actual cost of a funeral will depend on factors such as whether you are being buried or cremated, the type of ceremony you have chosen and whether there are any special cultural or religious requirements.
As a general rule of thumb:
- A basic burial. A basic burial can cost around $4,500.
- A basic cremation. A basic cremation costs around $3,600.
- Elaborate funerals. At the other end of the spectrum, an elaborate funeral can cost up to $15,000 or more.
But how much will MY funeral cost?
Where you have your funeral will likely influence the cost of your funeral. We looked at the average cost of funeral in each state and found that Perth was the most expensive Australian city, with the average ceremony costing $7,764.
|Rank||City||Average funeral cost*|
|Rank||City||Average burial cost|
|Rank||City||Average cremation cost|
*Methodology: How did we work this out?
finder.com.au looked at the funeralplanner.com's starting price for burials and cremations of the major funeral service providers of each state and worked out an average for each funeral type. We then calculated a weighted total average to represent both funeral types (33.33% for burials and 67.67% for cremations). Note: NT was excluded
How do I calculate the exact cost of my funeral?
Itemise your funeral costs
Knowing the cost of your funeral can help you choose the appropriate benefit amount in your funeral insurance or the amount you'll need to save. To do this, you will need to decide on the kind of funeral you want and itemise the various costs involved.
|Basic funeral costs||$ (AUD)|
|Service fee||from $2000|
|Removal of body||$300|
|Advertising (death and funeral notice in newspapers and obituaries)||$285|
|Extra cars (rough cost per car)||$330|
|Coffin/casket||Up to $10,000+|
|Cemetery or grave fees (This includes opening and can include the plaque)||From $3500+|
|Re-opening fee||From $1800|
|Certificates for cremation||$185|
|Cremation fees (This includes the use of a chapel)||$950|
|Disposal of ashes||$ (AUD)|
|Wall, niche, urn, rose garden||from $1200|
These costs are estimates based on NSW State Library's 2011 study of funeral costs.
Get quotes directly with an insurer
Covering the cost of a funeral
A destitute funeral is not how most of us would like to be remembered and yet some Australians are still neglecting to make plans to cover their funeral expenses. A finder.com.au survey found that 60% of Australians don't have a plan in place.
|Financial plans to cover funeral?||Proportion (%)|
|Has life insurance in place||14%|
|Currently paying off a prepaid funeral plan||4%|
|Already paid for it with a pre-paid funeral plan||4%|
|Has funeral insurance in place||8%|
Results based on a June survey of 2,000 respondents.
You can use the following methods to easily cover your funeral expenses:
- Saving for a funeral. One way is to open a high-interest savings account and contribute a small amount on a regular basis. If you tell a close friend or loved one about the account, the money for your funeral will be there when needed.
- Pre-paid funeral plan. You can arrange this with your local funeral director and you will need to pay a little each month until your funeral is covered. This will also allow you to make your preferred arrangements, so you’ll have the funeral you want when you die.
- Funeral bond. You can also buy a funeral bond from a funeral director and make regular repayments. The money is invested and grows over time and you can’t use it for anything other than your funeral expenses.
- Funeral insurance. This involves taking out a policy and paying regular premiums to maintain your cover. While some policies could cost you more than the cost of a funeral over time, if you look for an insurer who offers capped premiums and a pay-out guarantee, you will only pay the amount you want. Capped premiums mean that once you reach your chosen benefit amount, cover continues without the need for further payments. A pay-out guarantee ensures your dependants receive either the total premiums paid or the original sum insured, whichever is higher.
A funeral can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 plus, and if you die unexpectedly without some means of paying for your own funeral, your dependants or relatives will be left with the cost. Your family will need to pay this money upfront, so even if you have a death benefit in your super, it could take some time for it to be released, leaving your loved ones with an immediate bill of thousands of dollars.
What happens if your relatives can’t afford to pay for it either?
If your dependants or relatives are unable to find the money to pay for your funeral, the government will consider you a destitute person (a person with no money or assets) and will appoint a contracted funeral director to arrange your cremation or burial. The only exception is if you die in a hospital, in which case the hospital is responsible for the cost of your funeral or cremation.
The government-appointed funeral contractor is responsible for providing a casket and a hearse and arranging for the burial and a minister to attend. If you are buried, it will be in a common grave, with no identification other than a number. If you are cremated, your ashes will be placed in an urn and stored if not claimed.
Financial help if someone just passed away
If someone near to you passes away suddenly and you need help with paying for their funeral, there are several options available to you.
Click here to view options
- You can contact a financial counsellor on 1800 007 007 or a Financial Information Service officer at Centrelink on 13 23 00.
- If the person who has passed away received Centrelink benefits, you can contact the Department of Human Services on 13 63 80 within 28 days of the person’s death to see if you are entitled to assistance.
- If you are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, you can contact your Local Aboriginal Land Council or other local organisations for advice and assistance.
- You can talk to your local funeral director about whether you can pay for the funeral in instalments.
- If the person who has passed away was working, you can contact their super fund to see if they have a death benefit.
- If the person who has passed away was in the defence forces, you can contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for advice and assistance on 13 32 54.
- Some state-based agencies provide funeral assistance grants that cover the cost of a basic funeral. These include the Treasury and Economic Development Directorate in the ACT (ph: 02 6207 2801), the Aboriginal Land Council in NSW (ph: 02 9689 4444), the Coroners Court in Queensland (ph: 07 3239 6193), South Australia Funeral Assistance in SA (ph: 1300 762 577), the Department of Health and Human Services in Tasmania (ph: 1300 135 513) and the Department for Child Protection and Family Support in WA (ph: 1800 854 925).
Dale Maroney from Walter Carter Funerals speaks about the importance of funeral planning.
- Avoid peak times. Weekends can incur additional costs.
- Avoid excessive amounts of flowers are not needed. Small arrangements can also do the trick.
- Only include necessary information in the death notices. Death notices may be charged based on the number of words
- Get quotes from various funeral providers. This can be from funeral directors or cemeteries.
- Consider a 'wake'. This can help save money in comparison to a caterer.
- Get your quote itemised. Breakdown each expense so you know exactly what's being paid for.
- Prepaid discount. Speak to your funeral director to see if they offer a discount for settling your account early.
Not all funerals are the same. We live in a highly multicultural society and funerals catering for a variety of cultures and religions are now commonplace in Australia. These can include:
- Catholic services
- Anglican services
- Buddhist services
- Eastern Orthodox
- Hindu services
- Jewish services
- Muslim services
- Other traditional services
All of which have different requirements that can add to the cost of a funeral. An example is a traditional Chinese funeral which can take place over several consecutive days, adding significantly to the overall cost.
Funeral insurance will cover the cost of most funerals, providing a lump sum pay out of up to $30,000. Depending on the type of funeral you want, you may not require as much as this. In those cases you would choose a lower benefit amount equivalent to your estimated funeral costs (bearing in mind that prices will increase over time due to inflation).
The cost of your funeral insurance premiums will be determined by a number of factors including the amount of cover you opt for, your age, your gender, your smoking status and where you live. As a rough guide, the average premium in Australia is approximately:
|Age range||Cost estimates per annum|
|50 - 55 year olds||$200 - $300|
|60 - 65 year olds||$500 - $600|
|80 - 85 year olds||$1000 - $1,200|
One of the biggest criticisms levelled at funeral insurance in recent years is the fact that some people have ended up paying far more in premiums over the years than their actual funeral cost. This is quite possible, particularly with stepped premiums, which increase as you get older.
How do I make sure this never happens?
The insurance industry has responded to this by introducing a variety of measures designed to make funeral insurance more relevant and affordable. Many insurers now offer:
- Capped premiums. Once the amount you’ve paid in premiums equals the sum insured, your cover continues without the need to pay any further premiums.
- Pay-out guarantee. When you make a claim, you’ll receive the sum insured or the amount you’ve paid in premiums, whichever is greater.
- Value promise. Your premiums will never increase over time and may actually decrease, due to loyalty discounts every few years.