Losing a loved one can be a challenging time emotionally and financially. As funeral costs continue to rise, it is useful to know the options for funding a gravestone, headstone, or grave marker. When shopping for funeral-related products, the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule protects your right to be made aware of all costs and fees. Understanding the terms, average costs, and financing options will allow you to make an educated decision about the grave marking of your choice.
Grave markers: This is a general term used to describe anything that marks a grave and can refer to any of the following markers.
Gravestones: These typically lay flush to the ground and are made of granite, stone, or bronze. You can customize these with different words, designs, and colors. They typically cover the top of the grave but can span the length of the grave as well.
Headstones: These usually refer to upright grave markers at the head, or front of the grave. They are usually made of granite but can also be made of bronze or other stones. These too can be customized by size, design, and color.
Monuments: A monument generally refers to a larger version of a headstone, which tends to include statues or sculptures. These are usually made of granite and come in all different shapes, sizes, and designs.
The average cost will depend on your location and chosen funeral home or cemetery; however, the following prices show what you can expect:
- Flat gravestone marker: $500-$5,000
- Upright monuments and headstones: $1,500-$3,500
- Specialty monuments: $15,000
Costs of the grave marker depend on the following:
The stone material:
- Granite is the most popular and usually starts at $450 but can increase based on color and size. Marble is another option, but is significantly more expensive, starting at $1,500.
- The cost of engraving can increase the cost of your marker significantly. The average pricing for engraving is $20 per character. So, when engraving the marker with a name, date of birth, and death date, you can already expect to spend around an additional $500. Adding an epitaph, name of loved ones, or other lettering will be an additional cost.
- The other option, instead of engraving, is to inlay an engraved bronze or aluminum plaque into the stone. These can cost between $100 and $300 but depend on the number of letters and the intricacy of the design.
- Most cemeteries will offer a service to install the chosen grave marker, and you can also hire a professional monument installation team. This service will depend heavily on the size, shape, and intricacy of the selected grave marker but, in general, will range between $150-$450.
Tips to finance a Grave Marker
The prices of grave markers and all the necessary services may leave you with a larger cost than expected. Here are some steps to take when financing a grave marker:
- Consider any packages or deals with the cemetery itself. Often, when buying a plot there will be a package deal that discounts the cost of a marker and installation.
- Check on any life insurance policies or social security payments. Surviving spouses and next of kin can receive a set amount from life insurance and social security benefits.
- Consider any factors that might qualify your loved one for charitable money. For example:
- Crime Victims – if an individual’s death was a result of a crime the state attorney’s office should be contacted to inquire into qualification for a “Crime Victim Compensation” payment.
- Veterans Associations – Veterans of the United States armed forces as well as immediate family members might qualify for a free headstone and/or funeral benefits at a federal or state level. Also, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides free burial services and headstones for veterans that are buried in national cemeteries that they maintain.
- Local charities – consider looking into any local non-profits or charities that assist with headstones or funeral needs.