How much does a funeral typically cost?
A 2018 study by finder.com.au found the average funeral cost in Australia to be $7,449*. The actual cost of a funeral will depend on factors like:
- Are you being buried or are you having a cremation?
- Is your ceremony going to have require a large venue?
- Are there any special cultural or religious requirements?
But 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.
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 Sydney was the most expensive Australian city, with the average ceremony costing $8,357 (Up from $7,621 in 2017).
|Rank||City||Average funeral cost*|
|Rank||City||Average burial cost||Average cremation cost|
In the past we recommended 'itemising your costs'. However as the funeral industry has grown it's become apparent that the funerals in Australia are often sold as “package deals”, with options ranging from the basic to the deluxe. This means it's also a good idea to break up the costs into the three main types.
- Professional services fees
- Additional service costs
- Third party expenses
A funeral home’s main professional responsibilities are to ensure the safe and respectful transport of the deceased, to store the body, and to either bury or cremate it.
Other expenses can include the cost of filing necessary paperwork, storing the remains and coordinating arrangements with third parties, such as the cemetery.
The cost of these essentials generally depends on what kind of ceremony you’re having. The different types of funeral service service are generally:
- Non-service: There is no ceremony, no attendance and the funeral home simply takes care of things as requested. Might generally cost around $1,000 for a cremation.
- Single service: A single service, typically held either in a church, at the funeral home or graveside.
- Dual service: Two services, with the first being held at a chosen venue, such as a chapel, and the second generally being a graveside committal ceremony.
A non-service is naturally a lot cheaper than any service, with the cost of the services depending on the additional service costs involved.
There are a range of additional service costs. Depending on the type of ceremony, none of these might be needed at all.
- Embalming: Preservation of the body ahead of viewing. Generally useless for closed casket funerals or cremations.
- Preparation of the body: Makeup, hairdressing, and otherwise making the body presentable. The cost naturally depends on the state of the deceased, but will almost always run into hundreds of dollars.
- Casket or coffin: Caskets are rectangular, while coffins are tapered, but both can very easily cost thousands of dollars, although coffins tend to be cheaper on average.
- Use of funeral home facilities: If your service calls for use of funeral home facilities, you can expect to pay an additional fee for its use.
- Use of funeral home staff: Using more funeral home staff for longer costs more, such as you might for dual ceremonies, or transporting the remains between multiple locations.
- Third party liaising fees: When the funeral home sorts out things with third parties, such as arranging flowers, you can expect to pay an additional service fee.
The other additional service costs can depend largely on the funeral home. Setting up chairs, preparing the gravesite, organising a venue, contacting a clergy, printing an obituary, making catering arrangements, organising music and more will all incur additional service costs.
However, all of these can still pale in comparison to the cost of a grave plot and headstone. A grand headstone can run well over $10,000, and even a relatively simple engraved marker can cost over $2,000.
Grave plots, meanwhile, vary widely between cemeteries with the most crowded carrying much higher prices. A high-demand cemetery plot in a city run well over $10,000, or even $20,000, while even the more sparsely-populated ones will typically cost several thousand dollars.
With a simple headstone and grave plot easily costing more than everything else put together, it’s no surprise that cremation is becoming increasingly popular. This can also do away with additional costs, such as internment fees and gravesite preparation.
It’s a good idea to leave some specific instructions in your will to make sure you get things done how you want.
Making sure you are able to get what you want is also one of the benefits of a funeral plan. Conditions generally apply within the first 12 months of taking one out, but after that you can generally be sure that it will pay out the specified amount, and can update your will to reflect that.
What's on this page?
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.
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.