This funeral and cremation planning guide aims to answer some of the key questions you will have if you have to make funeral arrangements in Nashville. The following FAQs about cremation costs and funeral prices in the Nashville area, as well as state funeral laws, and other funeral/cremation considerations, have been put together to help you know where to start when arranging a funeral or cremation.

Direct cremation service $995  Call (615) 236-8763

First call:  What to do when a death occurs

When a death occurs, your first call will be to select a funeral home to handle funeral arrangements and transfer the deceased into their care. Most deaths occur in a medical facility, where the deceased can be held for a short period in the hospital morgue if necessary.

So, do give yourself some time to select the right funeral service provider for your needs, and try not to feel rushed to make a decision immediately.

Cremation Funeral

How to choose a funeral home or cremation service provider in Nashville?

If your loved one had no funeral plan, and you have no prior experience with a funeral home, this will be the first decision to make.  There are around 26 funeral service providers in Nashville.  Some consideration of your funeral needs can help narrow down suitable funeral homes.

If you want to have a funeral ceremony, the physical location of the funeral home will likely be an important consideration.  Also, if you are working toward a specific financial budget for the funeral cost, you will likely want to make funeral price comparisons before selecting a funeral home.

Direct cremation service $995  Call (615) 236-8763

What are the funeral service or cremation service options in Nashville?

There are a range of funeral service providers serving the Nashville area, as mentioned above. Therefore you can arrange anything from a full-service traditional funeral to a simple direct cremation service. 

You will need to decide if you want a traditional funeral, something more modern like a life celebration service, or if you want to consider cremation as a more affordable option.

Read on to find out more about direct cremation and how it is your most affordable option.

What is the average cost of a funeral service in Nashville?

According to Funeralocity (2022), the average cost for a traditional adult funeral in the Nashville Metropolitan area is $7,733. This is based on the most commonly selected items for a traditional funeral, including a casket and vault. However, it does not include cemetery costs.

A grave space, a grave marker, and opening/closing the grave can easily cost another $1,500 to $2,500. Therefore, a typical traditional funeral and burial cost is likely at least $9,000

How much does a cremation cost in Nashville?

Cremation cost is generally more difficult to quote as it will depend on the type of cremation service you opt for. 

Whether you opt for a cremation with a traditional service or a direct cremation without a service. 

Cremation is a cheaper alternative to a traditional funeral, but a cremation with a memorial service will still cost upwards of $3,500, with an average cost of around $6,463 in the Nashville Metropolitan area (Funeralocity 2022).

A simple cremation service with no ceremony is referred to as a “direct cremation” in the funeral industry.  A direct cremation can be arranged for just $995 in Nashville

This is the most economical funeral service arrangement available to families. The cost of a simple cremation can, however, still vary between different funeral service providers in Nashville, with an average cost of $1,894 in the Nashville Metropolitan area. 

Therefore, how much your cremation will cost will largely depend upon what type of cremation service you select and which provider you opt to conduct the service.

It is always a good idea to check what is included in a low-cost direct cremation package to ensure there are no hidden fees. Sometimes what can appear low-cost can have additional fees added to the full package price. 

County fees are generally ‘third-party’ additional charges –such as death certificates and cremation permits. But, some affordable direct cremation packages may include a death certificate and cremation permit fee.

Extra charges that can be incurred on a budget direct cremation are fees for if a residential collection is required if the deceased weighs over 300 pounds and if a pacemaker needs to be removed prior to cremation.

How do I apply for a Death Certificate in Nashville?

The funeral director will generally file for the death certificate for you and will ask how many copies you require. The cost for each copy of the death certificate is $15.00. You can also obtain additional certified copies yourself, if needed, from the Tennessee Office of Vital Records (OVR). You can order a copy online or by post, or you can call in person to:  

1st Floor, Central Services Building, 421 5th Avenue, North Nashville, TN 37243. Most county health departments can also issue certificates for deaths that occurred within their jurisdiction.

Who is responsible for paying for a funeral?

If the deceased did not pre-arrange and pre-pay for a funeral plan, then the responsibility for paying for a funeral falls to the immediate next of kin.  This can, understandably, be quite a burden for many people, and this is why more seniors today are considering setting up simple cremation arrangements. Pre-planning can be a simple and affordable option, giving families peace of mind for when the time comes. 

Be aware that whoever signs the funeral contract with the funeral home is considered legally responsible for the payment of the funeral bill.

If you are interested in pre-arranging a simple cremation plan, contact your local DFS Memorials location at (615) 236-8763.

Cremation Plan

What happens if the deceased is at the County Medical Examiners?

If the death occurred outside of a medical facility, was an accident, or was unexplained, the body will be transferred to the Medical Examiner’s office.  It is the responsibility of the coroner to determine a cause of death before a death certificate can be issued. 

You will need to arrange for a funeral home to collect your loved one once the coroner releases the body.  Only a licensed funeral director can transport the deceased from the ME’s morgue, and the next of kin will need to sign a release form for the Medical Examiner to release the body into the care of a funeral home.

The Medical Examiner will issue the death certificate and permit to cremate once they release the body.  If you have further questions about identifying the body and making arrangements for the transfer of the deceased, you can contact the Medical Examiner for Davidson County at 615-743-1800.

Alternatively, you can find them at:

Davidson County Medical Examiner
850 R.S. Gass Blvd,
Nashville, TN 37216

How do I prepare if my loved one is in hospice care?

If your loved one is in hospice care, and the support staff has advised you to prepare for his or her passing, it can help to have provisional arrangements in place.  This is so that when the time comes, the hospice can immediately contact the funeral service provider and arrange the transfer of your loved one into their care. 

If you contact a funeral home ahead of time, you can have some of the preparation in place, this will alleviate some of the stress that comes with having to make arrangements on short notice. This also means the hospice knows who to call, and the authorizations and other legal documentation can be pre-prepared.

What help with funeral expenses is there for low-income or uninsured families?

This is a common question as more families find themselves struggling to pay for funeral expenses. Unfortunately, there is very limited public or state assistance for funeral costs. The state takes care of any indigent deaths (as is their responsibility), but this is done by means of a pauper burial or cremation.

Social Security offers a $255 death benefit payment (if qualifying), and the funeral director will be able to assist you with claiming this.

You may also find it useful to read our article on ‘What are your options on how to pay for a funeral or cremation?’.

It provides more information on how you can raise funds to cover funeral expenses.

What can I legally do with the cremated remains?  Laws for scattering ashes in Nashville, TN

According to the provisions in state law, cremated remains can be kept at home, buried in a cemetery or memorial garden, mausoleum, or niche. Remains can also be buried or scattered on private land (with the permission of the landowner). Cremated remains are organic and sterile and therefore pose no issue to the environment.

If you wish to scatter remains in rural public land, there are no laws preventing this. As far as scattering in state parks goes, the general guidance is that you can go ahead so long as it does not interfere with any state park activities.

The state parks will not allow any form of marker or shrine to be placed at the site of scattering, and you should only use biodegradable materials for any ceremony. You may also scatter over inland water. Tennessee is in Region 4 of the Environmental Protection Agency, which governs the Clean Water Act, and the region’s contact number is (404) 562-9900. So long as you only use biodegradable materials, there is no reason why you cannot disperse the ashes of your loved one into the inland waters of Tennessee.

Direct cremation

I want to pre-plan a simple cremation.  What is the best way to set up a cremation plan in Nashville?

You can make pre-arrangements with a funeral home and/or crematory.  The terms and payment plans may differ depending on your requirements and age. And whether you make payment in full at the time of purchasing your pre-need plan or opt to arrange a payment plan.

More cremation providers are now offering online arrangement services, so all this can be done from the comfort of your own home.  Pre-planning can provide you with funeral service coverage that will give you and your family peace of mind, reducing the stress associated with making last-minute funeral arrangements after a loved one has passed.

To discuss your options for pre-planning a simple cremation in Nashville, contact your local provider at (615) 236-8763.

If you travel (as 80% of adults do these days), you may wish to consider purchasing a Travel Protection Plan.  This is an affordable assurance policy that provides you with lifetime cover for funeral costs should you happen to pass away 75 miles or more away from your home in Nashville.  The plan costs just $450 for an individual or $875 for a couple and will cover all costs for a cremation at the place of death or returning the deceased home to Tennessee.  The cover is worldwide. 

Read more about this affordable peace of mind death expense coverage here: Travel Protection Plan. Or click on the link below to enroll now.

Arranging a green burial in Tennessee

In a recent survey, The National Funeral Directors Association discovered that 72% of funeral homes reported an increase in interest in green burial from families.  At present, families typically have 2 options – traditional burial or cremation.  However, a ‘natural’ green burial is less expensive than a traditional burial and more environmentally friendly than a cremation.

Typically, a green funeral will cost between $3,000 and $5,000. 

There are cemeteries offering green burial options in Tennessee. Larkspur Conservation Burial site in Nashville is the first dedicated conservation burial ground in Tennessee. It opened in 2018 and offers natural burial for $4,000.

Further details of cemeteries can be found on our Green Burials Directory

Can I arrange a no-cost cremation in Nashville?

A “no-cost” cremation normally refers to a whole-body donation program where the deceased’s remains are cremated free of charge after the donation. If you wish to donate your body to science in Tennessee, the University of Tennessee has an anatomical bequest program that accepts donations and is a non-profit organization. However, not all donations can be accepted. You can find out more on their website.

For more information on whole body donation, visit our page on Body Donation.

Do I need a casket for a cremation service in Nashville?

No, there is no requirement (or law) in Tennessee that stipulates a casket is required for a cremation service.  A cremation is usually conducted using a simple reinforced cardboard container.  It is, however, possible to rent a casket if you wish to have a service before the cremation.  This will help you save on funeral costs, as caskets can be a significant expense for a traditional funeral and burial.

I have questions or concerns about arranging a funeral in Nashville.  Where can I find help?

You can contact our DFS Memorials affordable funeral service provider in Nashville with any questions you have.  If you have a complaint against a funeral director or a funeral establishment, you should attempt to resolve your complaint directly with the funeral home concerned. If this is unsuccessful, you can make a written grievance to: 

Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers & Burial Services Section  

Davy Crockett Tower 
500 James Robertson Pkwy. 
Nashville, TN 37243

There are also 2 funeral consumer alliance groups in Tennessee that may be able to support you with any queries concerning funeral purchases:

Funeral Consumers Alliance of East Tennessee (FCAET), P.O. Box 10507, Knoxville, TN 37939 

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Mid-South, P.O. Box 770388, Memphis, TN 38177

Lastly, Feel free to contact us at US Funerals Online, and we will try and help you if you have further questions about arranging a funeral or cremation service.

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.