funeral or cremation can be a difficult task, especially as you are usually
grieving and feeling emotionally vulnerable at the same time, and this
can mean making decisions is not easy.
This brief guide to arranging
a funeral or cremation in Washington DC aims to provide a starting point
and give you an overview of some of the main things you need to consider.
can on funeral expenses?
Do you want the services of an African-American funeral home? Obviously
having some clear ideas of what you do need from a funeral home helps you
make the decision of which funeral home is right for you.
Choosing a funeral home in DC
One of the first things you
will need to do, especially if a death has just occurred, is chose the
funeral director you wish to handle the funeral services.
There are in the region of
40 funeral homes and mortuaries in the Washington DC area so you need to
consider what criteria can help you select the right funeral home for your
needs. There are also around 16 cemeteries, crematories and Memorial
Do you require a traditional
funeral or burial service? Or are you seeking a more contemporary
life celebration service, or a cremation? Is the cost of the funeral
an issue, are you working to a tight budget and looking to save money where
Many people seek recommendations
or referrals from family or friends, and this is a very good way to get
information. However, if you are not in a position to benefit from
a sound referral, or you are seeking something specific, you may have to
resort to contacting funeral homes yourself. Usually people look
for a reputable funeral business in their own area, but it is always advisable
to check with more than one funeral home and compare services and prices
for a funeral or cremation.
What does an average funeral
cost in Washington DC?
The average cost of a funeral
in the U.S. is $7,045 (according to the NFDA - National Association of
Funeral Directors 2012), and this does not include any cemetery fees.
However, the average cost of a traditional funeral in the Washington DC/Baltimore
area has been evaluated at $9,010*. The cost for a traditional burial
is largely dependent on the type of casket you select and the final cost
of your cemetery plot and grave marker. Basic funeral director’s
services for a traditional burial can be found for around $4,500 in the
District of Columbia.
All funeral homes in the
Washington DC area must have a general price list (GPL) that outlines their
service charges and funeral merchandise prices. They must provide
a copy of their GPL when they quote you a price according to the Federal
Trade Commission’s ‘The Funeral Rule’.
It is recommended that you
DO compare like-for-like, and shop around and compare funeral prices between
more than one funeral home. That way you can be sure that you have
a “best value” funeral service.
How much does a cremation cost
in Washington DC?
A typical cremation funeral
service will cost in the region of $3,900* (depending upon the ancillary
services/products you select). This is the type of cremation service
that replaces a full traditional funeral. It is possible to arrange
a cremation for considerably less than this.
The decision between choosing
a burial or cremation is very much a personal choice. The deceased
may have left explicit wishes or surviving family may have to make a decision.
Faith and/or funds for the funeral service can play a significant role
in whether a burial or cremation is chosen. Having a pre-existing
cemetery plot can be an important aspect as burial plots can be quite expensive
to purchase these days. Cremation is certainly on the increase in
the United States, and is becoming a popular funeral alternative for many
now. Green burials are also another option that can be considered.
Arranging a direct cremation
in Washington DC
A direct cremation can be arranged
in nearby Baltimore for $850. This is the least expensive cremation
option for families. A direct cremation means that there are no services,
the cremation goes ahead once all the documentation has been completed
and then the cremated remains are returned to the family in a temporary
container. Incremental options, such as a private family viewing
or an upgraded cremation urn, can be added to a basic direct cremation
package for an additional fee.
How do I decide between a burial
or a cremation in the District of Columbia?
If you are unsure whether
to choose between burial or cremation, talk to family and friends, and
discuss the decision with your funeral director. Just be aware that
a funeral director is running a business.
Does the deceased have to be
There is no legal requirement,
or state law, stipulating that you have to have the deceased embalmed.
However, some funeral homes may adopt policies that insist upon embalming
if a public viewing or service is being held with the deceased in repose.
If you proceed with a timely funeral, there is really no need for embalming
(and it can just be another fee to add to your funeral costs!)
What you DO need to consider
is that funeral prices could indeed be coming down. Funeral companies
promote preplanning on the basis that it “locks into today’s prices”, but
with the cremation trend increasing, and more funeral homes competing for
the ‘affordable’ funeral market – the reality is that the funeral costs
are not as ‘fixed’ as they once were.
Purchasing a casket or grave
marker in Washington DC
We have comprehensive guides
to buying a casket or grave marker, so I would recommend you visit these
sections for more detailed information. Caskets
Can I pre-plan a funeral in
Yes, you certainly can, and
this is becoming a preferred choice for many families in DC now.
Pre-planning your funeral alleviates family of both the difficult decisions
and the financial burden of funeral expenses. You can make pre-need
funeral arrangements direct with a funeral home or purchase burial insurance.
Another funeral planning
alternative is to document your wishes and put aside the appropriate funds
in a POD Payable on Death account or a Totten Trust. This enables
family to access the funds at the time of need and make the funeral arrangements,
but you keep in control of your monies and any accrued interest.
Read more in our article ‘What is my best and safest option for putting
aside money for a funeral’.
Can I donate my body to science
in the District of Columbia?
Yes, donating your body to science
can be a great way to facilitate your end-of-life needs and, apart from
being a gift to society, can also mean that you do not have any funeral
expenses. Most of the national organizations that deal with full
body donation handle everything from the moment you notify them of the
death, including collecting the body, the donation, the free cremation
and the return of the cremated remains to the family a few weeks later.
Many more people in DC are choosing body donation now, and once they have
had the cremated remains returned to them at no-cost, they then arrange
their own memorial service for the family. Check out our Body
How can I transport a loved
one either back to, or from, DC after death?
If a loved one needs to be transported
back to a state or country of origin following their death in DC, you will
need the services of a funeral director who can arrange funeral shipping
for you. This generally needs a funeral professional who can coordinate
arrangements at the place of death and wherever the body is being shipped
If transporting a loved one
between states in the United States you have the option of flying the body,
or transporting the body by land. Certain regulations do apply on
moving a body, and it is likely that embalming may be required as well
as specific containers to hold the casket. Shipping a body can be
quite expensive, so the other alternative you have is to have the body
cremated at the place of death, and then transport back the cremated remains.
Visit our section on Funeral
Shipping to read more.
Who should I contact if I have
a complaint about a funeral home in Washington DC?
Hopefully you will find the
services of your funeral home more than adequate, as most funeral professionals
are very dedicated in their vocation. Unfortunately though, it does
sometimes happen that you may have a complaint or grievance with a funeral
home and you do not manage to resolve it directly with the funeral director.
In this case you should make your complaint in writing to the DC Board
of Funeral Directors who regulates and licenses funeral businesses in the
District of Columbia. They can be contacted at: 1100 4th Street
SW, Washington, DC 20024
I hope this guide has helped
to answer some of your immediate questions. Please check out our
Library/info section for our full catalogue of resources to help you through
the process of arranging a funeral. Feel free to contact us if we
can be of any assistance with any further questions you may have.
*efuneral Price Index
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Last Revised: November 4th
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