What to consider when arranging a funeral or cremation in Mississippi

We have put together this guide to arranging a funeral or cremation in Mississippi to assist families with making funeral arrangements. We have attempted to address some key decisions that must be made once a death has occurred and provide tips on arranging a funeral or cremation and saving money. 

Choosing a funeral home in Mississippi

One of the first things you will need to do once a death occurs, or even when death is imminent, is to select a funeral director you wish to handle the funeral services.

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There are 540 funeral homes and mortuaries in the Mississippi region, so you must consider what criteria can help you select the right funeral home for your needs.

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 on a tight budget and looking to save money where you can on funeral expenses?

Obviously, having some clear ideas of what you need from a funeral home helps you decide which funeral home is right for you.

Traditionally, many families opted to call their local funeral director and maybe a funeral home who had handled a previous funeral for the family. Today, as families have become more dispersed and mobile, and tough financial times are hitting families hard, families can find themselves unsure where to turn.

Who is responsible for making the funeral arrangements?

Cost for death certificate Mississippi

In Mississippi, there is no law that enables you to name an agent for body disposition if you should want someone other than your next of kin to be in charge unless you make advance arrangements under a “preneed contract” (Mississippi Code § 75-63-25).

However, the written wishes of the deceased are to be followed where possible. The family can legally conduct all funeral arrangements without the services of a funeral director.

Who is responsible for paying the funeral costs?

An individual has two options for preparing to cover their funeral expenses – he/she can set up a preneed funeral contract and pay in advance or put aside a fund for surviving family to access when needed. If an individual does neither of these provisions, then Mississippi law requires the surviving family to pay the funeral expenses. (Mississippi Code § 73-11-58(8))

What does an average funeral cost in Mississippi?

Compare cremation costs in Mississippi

The average funeral cost in the U.S. is $7,848 (according to the NFDA – National Association of Funeral Directors), which does not include any cemetery fees. The cost for a traditional burial largely depends on the type of casket you select and the final cost of your cemetery plot and a grave marker.

Basic funeral director’s services for a traditional burial can be found for around $3,600 (including casket) in parts of Mississippi, depending on your location.

All funeral homes in Mississippi 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 Funeral Rule.

We strongly recommend that you DO compare funeral prices and packages between more than one funeral home. This ensures that you have contracted a “best value” funeral service.

How much does a cremation cost in Mississippi?

A typical cremation funeral service will cost in the region of $3,500 (depending upon the ancillary services/products you select). This is the type of cremation service that replaces a full traditional funeral.

However, arranging a cremation for considerably less than this is possible. A cremation eliminates much of the expensive cost of a traditional burial – such as the casket, embalming, burial vault, and cemetery fees. This enables you to reduce your funeral bill by thousands of dollars.

A full open casket service can be held before cremation, and rental caskets are often available.  There is a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before a cremation can be conducted, and the next of kin must sign the cremation authorization form (if this was not already signed by the deceased in a pre-arrangement contract).

Arranging a direct cremation in Mississippi

If you are concerned about funeral costs, the DFS Memorials providers in Mississippi offer direct cremation services and affordable burial services. All DFS Memorials providers guarantee to offer a ‘best value’ direct cremation package. 

Direct cremation means that there are no services. The cremation goes ahead after the necessary paperwork has been completed (after the legal waiting period), and the ashes are returned to the family in a temporary container. Adding extras to a basic direct cremation, such as a private family viewing or an upgraded cremation urn, is possible. This would be at an additional cost.

How do I decide between a burial or a cremation in Mississippi?

Direct cremation Mississippi

The decision of whether to have a burial or cremation is very much a personal choice. If the deceased left explicit wishes, this can alleviate the family’s decision, but if not, the family has to decide what the deceased may have wanted and what the family can afford to pay for.

Religious beliefs and available funds for the funeral service can significantly influence whether a burial or cremation is chosen. Having a pre-existing cemetery plot can also be important, 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. It is legal to conduct a home burial, but you must submit a map of the family cemetery to the county Board of Supervisors (if outside the limits of a municipality). You must consider the implications of what may happen should the property be sold later.

If you are unsure whether to choose between burial or cremation, talk to family and friends and discuss the decision with your funeral director and faith/family support representatives. 

Does the deceased have to be embalmed in Mississippi?

There is no Mississippi law that states you MUST have your loved one embalmed. However, refrigeration OR embalming is required when a disposition will not take place for 48 hours. If you do not wish for embalming, ensure the funeral home you select offers suitable refrigeration facilities.  Many funeral homes DO adopt policies that require a body to be embalmed if an open casket visitation or service is being held. 

Purchasing a casket or grave marker in Mississippi

Caskets and headstones are large outlays in your funeral expenses. These days, more affordable options are available, but laws for this can vary by state. We have comprehensive guides to buying a casket or grave marker, so I recommend you visit these sections for more detailed information. 

Funeral burial in Mississippi

Can I pre-plan a funeral or cremation in Mississippi?

Yes, you certainly can, and this is becoming a preferred choice for many families in Mississippi now.  Pre-planning your funeral alleviates the family of the difficult decisions and the financial burden of funeral expenses. You can make pre-need funeral arrangements directly with a funeral home or purchase burial insurance.

You DO need to consider that funeral prices could 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.

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 the 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 Mississippi?

Free cremation in Mississippi with a whole body donation

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.

Individuals choose body donation as a ‘no cost’ funeral alternative, and once a family has the cremated remains returned to them, they then arrange their own memorial service.

Check out our Body Donation section.

How can I transport a loved one either back to or from Mississippi after death?

If a loved one needs to be transported back to a state or country of origin following their death, you will need the services of a funeral director who can arrange funeral shipping for you. This generally needs a funeral professional to 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 can fly the body or transport the body by land. Certain regulations do apply to moving a body, and it is likely that embalming will 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.

If you do regularly travel for work, pleasure, sport, visiting family, or snow-birding, you may wish to consider our great value Travel Protection Plan. This plan costs just $450 for an individual for lifetime protection against the costly expense of returning a body home if a death occurs 75 miles (or further) from your residence. It also provides global coverage. Domestic funeral shipping can cost from $3,000, and International repatriation can start at around $6,900.

Visit DFS Memorials Travel Protection Plan to learn more about the Peace of Mind Protection.

Who should I contact if I have a complaint about a funeral home in Mississippi?

The Funeral Profession is, by and large, a vocation, but it is also a billion-dollar industry. As with other consumer sectors, 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 Mississippi State Board of Funeral Service, 3010 Lakeland Cove, Suite W, Flowood, Mississippi 39232. Phone: 601-932-1973

We trust that this guide has helped to answer some of your immediate questions. Please check out our Library/info section for our full catalog of resources to help you through the process of arranging a funeral. Feel free to contact us if we can assist you with any further questions. 


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Written by

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 15 years.