Full Guide to Funeral Expenses in Los Angeles
Funeral Information

Full Guide to Funeral Expenses in Los Angeles

One of the many things humans still cannot change is death. Even if technology and medicine have come so far, we have never found a way to escape death. It's still tough for most of us to deal with losing someone we love or to prepare for our own.

Planning a funeral or cremation has its benefits. It clears your head and helps you keep an eye on the budget while making the preparations, and this process keeps you down to earth and eases some of the grief you're feeling.

The more you know about funerals, the spending to expect, and the many options you have, will give you a sense of control over the whole thing, just as death tells us that we can’t have control over everything.

What’s the first thing to do when death happens?

Unless we’re talking about accidents (no matter what their kind), death will most likely happen in a hospital or care facility. Suppose that the person dear to us died in the hospital. In that case, the body will be taken to the hospital morgue and kept until you decide which funeral service provider will manage the funeral arrangements.

If the person has died in a hospice or a nursing home, they will probably request to move the body to a mortuary. It’s quite often that people rush and choose the very first funeral home only to regret afterward not looking into several options. It's one of the reasons you should do funeral planning before the person dies, especially if you're aware that death will occur soon enough.

For people who have a prepaid funeral plan or left word about what their funeral service should be like, it's going to be a lot easier. They only have to find the paperwork and get in touch with the cremation provider or the funeral home. 

The situation gets rather tricky if the death happened suddenly, or the deceased had no life insurance or funeral plan. It may be necessary to make numerous decisions against the clock, with selecting the cremation provider or funeral home as the most important one.

What’s the procedure for obtaining the death certificate in Los Angeles?

Typically, the funeral director that you hired will obtain the death certificate on your behalf. You have eight days after death to file for it. The funeral director will ask you to answer various personal questions about the deceased, which eases the release of the death certificate.

Certificate of death Los Angeles

Some statistical information may be needed for completing the form. A copy of death certificate in Los Angeles costs $21. The funeral director will get as many copies as you need, and you should always get more than one. There will be plenty of situations where a copy of the death certificate will be necessary. If you want to get more copies, the California Department of Public Health allows you to obtain In-person, by mail, and even online extra copies.

What criteria should you use for selecting a cremation provider/funeral home in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is a vast city, and selecting a funeral home can become quickly overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to look. Should you intend to hire a funeral home, it’s wise that you find a trustworthy option close to your home. If you're planning the funeral on a tight budget or you have specific requests, some shopping around to compare the costs and services is recommended. One of the first things you will find out is that prices vary significantly between different funeral homes.

In Los Angeles, no funeral home can operate without the license released by the Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, which controls the death care business in Los Angeles, with the main purpose to protect the clients. For example, every licensed funeral establishment must show their FD license numbers and even display it in every online marketing.

What's the typical budget you will need for a funeral in Los Angeles?

Federal law obligates the funeral homes to offer present retail price information through the General Price List (GPL). As the law states, every client coming into a funeral home and requesting information must receive the GPL. The costs for all funeral services and of the items provided must be noted on that list.  

Since 2013, a new California Business & Professions Code (7685) has been emitted, obligating the Los Angeles funeral homes to list the funeral spending on their websites as well. However, a compromise was made, so now funeral homes may display the list of services without the prices, under obligation to provide the GPL to clients on request. The rule did little to nothing to sustain transparency in pricing within the funeral industry. It surely didn’t ease the client’s efforts to compare prices between various funeral homes. Today, clients have to get in touch with various funeral service providers in Los Angeles and specifically request the GPL.

It makes perfect sense that it's difficult to predict how much a funeral will cost in Los Angeles. Prices vary a lot, even by the thousands of dollars for the same type of services. The National Funeral Directors Association states that you will pay around $7045 for a funeral in Los Angeles, but the cost doesn't comprise the cemetery fees. It's a national average price, and you will end up paying anything between $3,000 to $10,000 for a traditional funeral in Los Angeles. Should you also want to purchase a cemetery plot, make sure you're ready to pay more than $3,000. All in all, a traditional burial in L.A. will cost anything between $6,500 to $20,000. It all depends on the cemetery and the funeral provider of your choice.

With 7 in 10 funerals being cremation and not burial, it's obvious that cremation services are the standard for people in Los Angeles. People have slowly turned to cremation services as they're a lot more affordable than traditional burial services. You will pay about $1,000 for a cremation in Los Angeles, which is cheaper than the regular funeral services.

What size should the budget be for a traditional funeral in L.A.?

order for payment

The differences between funeral homes are quite significant, and it's wise to have a general idea about the funeral and services that you want. Remember that the sky is the limit when it comes to a funeral, as you may spend thousands of dollars for flowers if that's your wish.

Typically, here’s what you will pay:

  • the fee for funeral services, which can start at $1,500
  • embalming- It can be as low as $500, and it’s requested if there is an open casket or transporting interstate. If the funeral doesn't immediately occur, the funeral home will refrigerate the body for some time, but you will have to pay for that service. Refrigeration may be mandatory if embalming is not available. The funeral home will typically store the body for $75 per day.
  • Transfer of the body to the funeral home - starts at $300. You will also pay for transportation to and from the coroner, around $150.
  • If special handling of the body is necessary, the funeral home will charge you for it. Managing of autopsied remains is about $150, whereas harvest repair goes as high as $250. The deceased weighing more than 300lbs will lead to a $500 fee for handling.
  • When the preparation of the body for coroner sign out is needed, the funeral home will charge you more than $250.
  • Grooming and cosmetology can get as high as $400. A hairdresser may style the hair of the deceased, whereas shaving, haircuts, and disinfecting are possible for men.
  • In cremation, it’s necessary to remove pacemakers, mechanical/radioactive devices, or implants, with a $150 fee for the service.
  • Should you choose to transport the body to the funeral home, you will hire the funeral home to get the death certificate, necessary permits and essential funeral services, which will cost you around $600.
  • Sometimes, you will have to transport the body in a different vehicle from carrier to the mortuary, coordinate with various morgues, care of the body (embalming not included), and even re-file for the permits. Count on $600 for these services.
  • In case of immediate burial, the body will be transported to the funeral home. The funeral director and staff's primary use of facilities and services, obtaining the death certificate, and other permits will also be included in the $1,500 that you have to pay. No cemetery fees are included.
  • If you’re interested in shipping human remains, you will have to pay more than $1,700. Add the shipping container costs without a casket ($175), or a shipping container with a casket ($250).
  • You may purchase caskets from the funeral home, where prices typically begin at $1200 and go as high as $10,000 or more. Online shopping will give you more convenient prices and a large variety of models as well. You can easily check how much do caskets cost from your home or mobile device any time. You can find caskets for less than $800. Not only that, but funeral homes have to accept the casket you bought elsewhere, by law.
  • Even if it’s not mandatory, a vault may be requested by the cemetery of your choice. You will have to pay around $1200 for a vault.


shop for coffins online


How much money should you prepare for cremation in Los Angeles?

Typically, the cremation fee for adults over 200 pounds is almost $400, whereas for children from 3 to 12 years old, it is $145.

When choosing cremation, you will have to pay for the transfer of the cremated urn, which is around $150. People wish to pack and ship the cremated remains all the time, and it’s $150 for shipping within the United States.

As we’ve mentioned already, the funeral home may store the cremated remains, but it will cost $15 per day.

What other services will you pay for?

conclusion of a contract of funeral service

When you hire a funeral home, you have to be aware of all the services and little details that you will pay for.

  • $400 for using the facilities for visitation and viewing
  • You will pay extra if you want to have overnight visitation - $400.
  • Should you plan to cater to the ceremony, you may choose several packages, according to the number of guests and your budget. It’s around $500 for 25 people.
  • You will have to pay to rent the repass room, transport with automotive equipment ($700), and transportation to the airport ($300). Some people still use an automobile, which costs around $400, whereas a limousine is slightly higher. For a horse and carriage, you will need to take almost $1,500 out of your pocket.
  • For a flower car, you will pay $250. Don’t forget the obituaries/funeral programs, which can be around $350 (200 pieces).
  • Should you want to hire a musician for the funeral service, you will pay around $200, whereas six pallbearers can cost as high as $1,500.
  • The burial permits are $12, whereas the amended dead certificate is $150.
  • An urn cover is just $50, and you can buy cheap or expensive urns. It all comes down to the budget and what you plan on doing with the cremated remains. If you’re not going to scatter the ashes, you should pay a little extra for a durable and elegant urn.
  • Flowers - You may ask the guests to bring flowers or buy them for $150 to $700. Should you want to cut down the losses, the flowers are one item you may try to reduce your spending on.
  • Every wreath you use can cost from $100 to $200. You may select from a fantastic diversity of sizes, so it's up to the size of your budget which wreaths you choose.
  • Grave markers and headstones may be added after some time, and the prices begin at $200, but can go as high as $6000. You should wait until you purchase and mounting the grave markers/headstones.

Are cremation services pricey in Los Angeles?

You may pay $2,200 to $4,000 for a cremation funeral in Los Angeles. With cremation, you will not have to get or pay for grave liner, or burial plot, so it's understandable why the costs are much lower.

Similarities between a cremation funeral and a conventional one do exist. The main difference between the two is that the body will go to the crematory and not buried. Some people choose to have a service at the crematory to make the process easier.

Should you choose a cremation package?

Plenty of funeral homes will provide cremation packages, where the price is presented for completed cremation service. When you're comparing spending and services between funeral homes, you should compare like-to-like services, especially if there is a cremation package include.

typically, you may choose between three types of cremation options:

  • direct cremation (keep reading for the details)
  • cremation with funeral service- the body is present, and the cremation takes place after the service
  • cremation with memorial service- the cremation takes place first, and the memorial service is held later. The cremation urn may be present.

How much will you pay for cremation urns?

A basic urn is $50 at the funeral homes, but you may buy it elsewhere for as high as $1,000. The size, style, and engraving will also affect the prices of the urn.

Here are the models to choose from:

Companion urns

The prices start at $150 and go as high as $500. You may use them to keep the remains of two people.

Earth-friendly urns

Should you care for the environment, you will pay from $70 to $300 for these urns. Most models are made with natural materials that will decompose into the ground.

Cremation caskets and cremation containers

They are decorative boxes made of wood or other combustible materials, with prices between $200 for a regular cardboard to $1400 for a nice wooden casket.


Jewelry, keepsakes, and mementos

today it’s possible to turn the cremated remains into jewelry as a unique way to keep the deceased close to you even after their death.

What is a direct cremation? How much will you pay for it in Los Angeles?

With direct cremation, an immediate cremation will take place, skipping the funeral services or minimal services. A funeral home may not even be solicited for direct cremation.

Typically, the body is picked up from death and taken to the crematory or the funeral home. Once the preparation and paperwork are completed, the cremation takes place. A primary cardboard container or cremation casket is used most of the time, whereas the cremated remains are offered to the family afterward.

A direct cremation costs $625 in Los Angeles, and the prices may vary according to the cremation services you use. As not all cremation providers will offer complete direct cremation packages, you should always check to see the costs covered. The permit fees and death certificates may be added later on, as they are third-party (county) fees and may fluctuate. Remember that some cremation providers will promote cremation costs that don't comprise the spending for the private collection or the cremation container. Always carefully read what the fees cover.

Do you have to comprehend the permits and laws about cremation?

The cremation cannot occur unless the legal next of kin signs a "Cremation Authorization Form" so that a cremation permit is released.

Unless all documents are completed, signed, and notarized, the cremation cannot take place in Los Angeles. The next of kin has to sign the Declaration for Disposition of Cremated Remains; it’s possible for the funeral home to help with that.

For cremation you would need a cremation casket, not all the caskets can be used for that.

Once the service is over, the primary cremation casket or container will be used for cremation.

Is it possible to have cremation services with a memorial in Los Angeles?

With cremation memorial service, the body is cremated, and the funeral service takes place afterward. It’s not mandatory for the ashes to be present, and people may go with an ash scattering ceremony as service. Life celebrations and interesting ceremonies honoring the deceased take place a lot these days.

It’s also possible to postpone the memorial service. Some families choose to wait sometime, until a particular date or anniversary, before holding a memorial service. Waiting may reduce the family's stress, as the members have time to deal with grief and make the proper arrangements for honoring the deceased and his life.

What rules are in place for ash scattering in Los Angeles?

As the California state law states, you are allowed  to keep the cremated remains at home, buried in a memorial garden, mausoleum, niche, or cemetery. It’s also legal to scatter or bury remains on private land, but only if you have the permission of the landowner. Cremated remains are sterile and organic, posing no problems for the environment.

Should you plan to scatter the remains on public parkland, you need to contact the park authorities to see if you need a permit or not. However, there are no laws in Los Angeles forbidding it.

Cremains are white and have nothing in common with ashes from a fire. A shallow burial is possible for the cremated remains, but you may also choose to disperse the ashes in water. Make sure you're discrete when scattering the ashes, and you're far enough from the most traveled paths. Keep it all safe and make sure that you are 100 yards away from the walks, trails, or public roads when scattering the ashes.

Is ash scattering forbidden off the Pacific Coast?

Anyone planning to have a scattering ritual off the Pacific Coast, should check with the Environmental Protection Agency about specific regulations. The EPA rules about scattering cremated remains at sea remind us that a 3 mile distance away at sea is necessary for the ritual. You may select from both accompanied and unaccompanied services, as there are plenty of boat charters activating near Los Angeles.

Is funeral pre planning doable in Los Angeles?

Planning the funeral will take some of the pressure off the shoulders from the family members and reduce funeral costs. Money that you will put in a funeral plan will go to a trust fund. You have several options, as it's possible to pay once for the entire funeral or have automatic bank withdrawals every month. Many funeral service providers will make sure to provide you a plan according to your financial possibilities.

It's possible to preplan and prepay, which is known as a "preneed contract." Preplanning by listing your wishes and pre-signing the authorization, without prepaying is also possible. Many professionals recommend that you don't pay for everything in advance so that you don't lose all your money.

Does Los Angeles County ensure cremation assistance alternatives?

Los Angeles funeral assistance is possible, but only if some specific conditions are met. Both the deceased and the immediate family would have to qualify as low-income; the requirements are met. The support is provided exclusively for cremation, which may happen after two months after death. The bereaved also has to cover fees ranging from $350 to $470 before asking for the cremated remains. When the family is unable to cover the price in two years, the ashes of the deceased are buried in a communal grave.

Even if L.A. County ensures low-cost options for helping families with financial struggles, it takes very long from the moment of death until cremation takes place. Therefore, it's common for people to look for alternatives outside Los Angeles County.

How to illustrate state-sponsored funeral assistance in a couple of words?

Families that lost someone in the family because of crime will benefit from the county's support for the funeral. The benefits are available throughout the entire state of California, not only Los Angeles.

The California Victim Compensation Board offers up to 7,500 dollars for cremation, burial, or memorial service for the victim. Some rules come into play:

  • it’s not possible to use the funds for a memorial service that surpasses the culture of the deceased
  • any other sources of payment must have been requested beforehand
  • it’s not possible to use the funds for reimbursing the spending for a grave or funeral bought before the victim’s death
  • It’s illegal to use the funds towards ancillary funeral spending
  • it's not possible for the person in charge of the funeral arrangements to be on parole, probation, or incarcerated. He/she may not be just released for a felony, nor registered as a sex offender

Do veterans get funeral assistance in Los Angeles?

military funeral honors near casket

Funeral assistance is possible in Los Angeles county if the deceased was a veteran. When the veteran died while not under the Veterans Administration's care, 300 dollars will be provided as financial help.

Otherwise, the assistance may be as high as $762. Veterans Administration facilities comprise clinics, hospitals, approved nursing homes, and private practices with V.A. contract.

Veterans and their families may also benefit from military funeral honors, headstone, care of the site forever, and plot in the veteran’s cemetery, without any costs. It will also be possible to bury the ashes in a national cemetery.

Is it possible to have a green burial in Los Angeles?

The green (natural) burial means that the body will be prepared with little to none chemical intervention whatsoever. The body will be buried in a naturally-made coffin. Wood, wool, linen shroud, wicker, or bamboo box are common choices for green burials.

A good number of funeral services providers activate in Los Angeles, as they respect the non-invasive managing of the deceased, and organize a burial in a green cemetery plot.

What if someone wants to donate the body to science in Los Angeles?

Anatomical donation to research or medical institution is possible in Los Angeles, as most medical colleges take body donation. A Donated Body Program runs at UCLA, but companies manage body donation programs while providing “no-cost" cremations.

Do people with low income get help with funeral spending in Los Angeles?

With traditional funerals being rather expensive for many people, more and more families look for cheaper alternatives. Direct cremation makes the most affordable choice for families with low income. It’s $625 in Los Angeles, and families qualifying for the lump-sum death benefit payment will also get $255 from the Social Security.

   Blog Author: Tim 

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