National Free Planning Kit

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How Much Does the Average Funeral Cost with Burial Cost?

The National Funeral Directors Association estimates the median cost of a funeral and burial at about $9,420. This price does not include a burial plot or things like flowers or transportation. Depending on the funeral home and funeral items chosen, the cost could be substantially higher. That’s why price shopping is so important.

It’s understandable that people grieving a recent death would struggle to do a comprehensive search for funeral homes and various costs. “In many cases, people just haven’t thought about a funeral,” said Cheryl Reed, a spokeswoman for the review site Angie’s List, in a CNBC article on funeral pricing. “So, they’re dealing with their grief at the same time they’re dealing with these decisions. It’s hard to be a great shopper.”

With proper planning, you can actually reduce some of the stress and financial responsibilities on your family members when you die. An increasing number of people are making plans in advance to cover their funeral costs, not only to ease the burden on those left behind but also to ensure their final wishes will be taken care of.

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Budgeting for a Funeral

It’s probably a good idea to budget more than $7,640 (or $5,150 for cremation). Why? Because those numbers don’t include things like traveling for the memorial service, meals and lodging around the time of the funeral, catering for guests, special clothing and more.

Most experts recommend rounding up to $10,000, which is why final expense life insurance policies often come with a $10,000 benefit. If you don’t have $10,000 to stash in a money market account to cover the cost of your funeral, you can always buy final expense insurance and name a loved one as the beneficiary of the policy.

That way, he or she won’t be out of pocket $10,000. Having a final expense policy can make it easier for your loved one to get that money. If you had $10,000 in a savings account, it may take your loved one longer to access that money, particularly if he or she is not listed as a beneficiary on your bank account.

Some final expense insurance policies are only available to those 50 or older. So what do you do if you’re under 50 and you don’t want your funeral to be a financial burden to a loved one? You can set up a dedicated savings account and share access to the account with your loved one, or buy a bond for the person who would be responsible for planning your memorial service. In some cases, you can pre-pay for a funeral with a funeral home, but doing this too far in advance can lead to complications if you move or if the funeral home goes out of business.

Funeral Fees

The Funeral Rule allows funeral providers to charge a basic services fee that customers have to pay. The basic services fee includes services that are common to all funerals, regardless of the specific arrangement. These include funeral planning, securing the necessary permits and copies of death certificates, preparing the notices, sheltering the remains, and coordinating the arrangements with the cemetery, crematory or other third parties. The fee does not include charges for optional services or merchandise.

Charges for other services and merchandise, include costs for optional goods and services such as transporting the remains; embalming and other preparation; use of the funeral home for the viewing, ceremony or memorial service; use of equipment and staff for a graveside service; use of a hearse or limousine; a casket, outer burial container or alternate container; and cremation or interment.

Cash advances are fees charged by the funeral home for goods and services it buys from outside vendors on your behalf, including flowers, obituary notices, pallbearers, officiating clergy, and organists and soloists. Some funeral providers charge you their cost for the items they buy on your behalf. Others add a service fee to the cost. The Funeral Rule requires those who charge an extra fee to disclose that fact in writing, although it doesn’t require them to specify the amount of their markup. The Rule also requires funeral providers to tell you if there are refunds, discounts, or rebates from the supplier on any cash advance item.

Help With Funeral Costs

Losing a loved one is one of the hardest experiences a person can go through. As if losing someone weren’t difficult enough, grieving family members are often left with the burden of funeral expenses. These expenses require many on-the-spot decisions. The stress of making these decisions can often drive families apart when they need each other the most.

Thus, it’s not uncommon for families to overspend by hundreds – even thousands – of dollars on funeral arrangements.

Some funeral homes can actually make matters worse by recommending unnecessary funeral expenses or services that drive up the average funeral cost beyond what a family can afford. Family members can feel pressured to give their loved one the best funeral possible and wind up overspending as a result. Having a trusted friend accompany you in advance can help you stay within your budget.

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone! Organizations such as the Funeral Consumers Alliance and the National Funeral Directors Association are available to help at any point in the process.

To help protect you from overspending on funeral costs – or if you want to make sure your loved ones are not burdened with your funeral debt – write down your preferences ahead of time, starting with whether you prefer to be buried or cremated. It’s also a good idea to list the type of service you prefer (a traditional viewing, a graveside service, or cremation), as well as the place of service (at a church, funeral home, or cemetery).

Although you might not be able to write down every detail of your final wishes, making these decisions ahead of time can give your family a guide to follow and help reduce confusion and emotional overspending when the time comes.

How Can You Save Money on a Funeral Service?

Ultimately, a bit of planning goes a long way towards saving money on a funeral service. Everyone deserves a final sendoff with their loved ones, but this doesn’t have to come at a premium. Consider these tips if you’re worried about budget:

  • Shop around: Funeral homes are legally required to disclose a complete price list. This means it’s perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to shop around to find the best price in your area. 
  • Third-party providers: You don’t have to purchase an urn, casket, or headstone through your funeral home. Often, you can find more affordable options online from a third-party provider. 
  • Alternatives: Eco-friendly alternatives are better for the environment and your wallet. From donating a loved one’s body to science to green burials, these are a peaceful way to lay your loved one to rest without the high cost. 
  • Smaller funeral: There’s no reason to feel pressured to hold a large, expensive funeral. A small, intimate function can be just as meaningful, if not more so. These can be held at home, in a park, or at the cemetery. 
  • Support: Don’t be afraid to reach out to your community and loved ones for support both emotionally and financially. 

What About Other Costs?

Family members or other loved ones won’t have to worry about some of the costs that are usually associated with the time when someone passes away. That’s because the state of Florida does not impose an estate tax, nor does it impose an inheritance tax, on Floridians and their heirs.

The best way to control costs is to know ahead of time what things cost. With that in mind, you can decide which parts of the funeral and burial are most in line with the wishes stated in the will, or otherwise written down as part of a burial plan. A separate burial plan is often key, because it’s common for the will to be read well after funeral arrangements are already underway — in other words, too late. Also keep in mind that funeral wishes are not necessarily legally binding, meaning if a loved one requested to be buried in California, but the death occurred in New Jersey and all family members live in New Jersey, no one is legally bound to move the body to California and hold the funeral and burial there.

However, a burial plan can often extend beyond a simple wish for burial preferences. Many people these days are opting to plan and pre-pay their funeral and burial years, if not decades, in advance. In this way, they not only ensure their preferences, they also pay for them with today’s cost, free from inflation further down the line.

Other Ways to Pay For a Funeral

Here are some other options to pay for funeral costs.

  • Pre-need funeral insurance. This is insurance purchased directly from a funeral home. The advantage is you’ll be able to lock into a contract and prices. But your plan might not be “portable,” meaning you won’t be able to take it to another state. And pre-need insurance pays only for a funeral. It doesn’t provide funds that go to your family for other needs they may have.
  • Payable on death (POD) account. Also referred to as “Totten Trusts,” this is a way to put aside money for your final expenses with a bank account. You can name the person who will have access to the money when you die, but your beneficiary cannot have access to the money while you’re alive.
  • Funeral trusts. This is an agreement where you can set aside money for final expenses and name a trustee. The trustee can withdraw money from the account after you pass away.
  • Trusts. In this type of agreement, the trust owns the life insurance policy. When you pass away, the trustee makes a claim and the funds are distributed according to your wishes outlined in the trust documents.
  • Savings account. You can use a regular savings account to pay for your funeral, but your money could be held up in probate after you die. You could potentially avoid this problem by adding a person to a joint savings account who will use the money for the funeral, but that person will have full access to the account while you’re alive.

If you or your family cannot afford a funeral or cremation, you may be able to get government assistance from a federal program such as:

  • Veteran benefits. Veterans can be buried in one of the 141 national cemeteries at no cost. Spouses and dependents might also qualify. Check with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for eligibility requirements.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For deaths resulting from a declared disaster or emergency, you may qualify for FEMA Funeral Assistance.
  • State government assistance. Many states have financial assistance programs if you cannot afford a funeral. Here is a list of programs by state, compiled by Funeralwise.
  • Crime victim compensation programs. Some states provide financial assistance to help pay for funerals for victims of violent crimes. Here is a list of state programs from the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards.
  • Personal loans. Sometimes referred to as “funeral loans,” these are really personal loans that you can spend any way you like. Personal loans are usually unsecured, which means they do not require collateral (like a lien on your car) and often have high interest rates, which could range between 16% to 35%, according to AARP.
  • Crowdfunding. This generally refers to raising money through donations from the general public, such as churches, other organizations and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe.

Cremation costs

Those who choose cremation may do so because it’s often a less expensive option, though that’s not the only reason.

The least expensive cremation is called a direct cremation on general price lists (GPLs); it takes place soon after death and does not include a witness or a memorial service. Cremated remains are returned to the family in an inexpensive plastic container, or the family can provide their own.

However, a cremation can include any of the personalizations or traditional rites associated with a funeral or celebration of life, including:

  • visitation, which in most cases embalming is recommended
  • memorial services before or after the cremation, sometimes with food
  • burial, inurnment, aboveground placement or scattering at a cemetery

All of those elements add to the expense. Some crematories offer witness cremations, which some cultures prefer, and those may carry additional charges.

The national median cost of an adult cremation with a viewing and memorial in 2021 was $6,970.

Funeral Vs. Burial

Currently, over 1500 individuals are taking a pulse on burial rituals.

In the past, conventional burial, that is, a casket set in the field in a graveyard was the most common thing to do for remains upon death in the U.S.

This alternative was proceeded by cremation and strongly outweighed by the number of conventional burials.

For starters, in 1960, just 4 percent of Americans were cremated, while almost all the remainder were usually buried.

Yet conditions have changed. After the 1960s, burial traditions have changed dramatically, so they still keep changing.

A funeral is a service that is linked to the cremation, burial, etc. of a deceased person’s body, as well as the burial (or similar) with the accompanying observances.

Funerary traditions are the array of values and activities that society utilizes to honor and value the deceased, from the internment itself to numerous statues, prayers, and ceremonies performed in their memory.

The term funeral derives from Latin, which had different interpretations like the body itself and the funerary rituals. Funerary art is art created in association with burials, including several styles of tombs, and artifacts crafted for a corpse explicitly for burial.

Burial or interment is the ceremonial act of placing a deceased human or animal below the grave, often with objects.

It is done by excavating and sealing a hole or grave, positioning the dead and items in it. Most will accept that humans buried their dead long after the species emerged.

Burial is frequently seen as expressing love for the deceased.

How Much Does a Funeral Cost in Each US State?

While the numbers above are averages of the cost of a funeral in the US, the final price will depend on your location and choices. If you live in an area with a higher cost of living, you’ll likely need to pay a higher fee for funeral expenses. Here are average funeral costs by US state

State

Average funeral expenses

Alabama

$6,933

Alaska

$10,084

Arizona

$7,530

Arkansas

$6,746

California

$11,777

Colorado

$8,198

Connecticut

$9,914

Delaware

$8,392

Florida

$7,600

Georgia

$6,925

Hawaii

$14,975

Idaho

$7,165

Illinois

$7,336

Indiana

$6,987

Iowa

$6,995

Kansas

$6,909

Kentucky

$7,057

Louisiana

$7,290

Maine

$9,122

Maryland

$10,069

Massachusetts

$10,216

Michigan

$6,902

Minnesota

$7,887

Mississippi

$6,684

Missouri

$6,762

Montana

$8,299

Nebraska

$7,049

New Hampshire

$8,516

New Jersey

$9,712

New Mexico

$6,793

Nevada

$8,423

New York 

$10,799

North Carolina

$7,367

North Dakota

$7,670

Ohio

$7,049

Oklahoma

$6,754

Oregon

$10,418

Pennsylvania

$7,895

Rhode Island

$9,269

South Carolina

$7,445

South Dakota

$7,748

Tennessee

$6,886

Texas

$7,103

Utah

$7,639

Vermont

$8,889

Virginia

$7,818

Washington

$8,594

West Virginia

$7,072

Wisconsin

$7,554

Wyoming

$6,933

» MORE: Easy as 1-2-3, make an online will in minutes.

 

Traditional funeralcosts

When religious or cultural traditions are of the utmost importance, a traditional funeral that emphasizes certain customs is the choice for many families.

Often visitation precedes the funeral service, and the loved one is placed in a cemetery after the service. The funeral most often occurs at a place of worship or a funeral home, and sometimes includes a graveside service.

Key expenses include preparation of the loved one, a casket, use of the funeral home for visitation and possibly the service or reception, planning by the funeral director, a casket and catering if desired. Members of some cultures conduct overnight visitations, ritual washing of the body or other special needs, and those services may cost more. 

The national median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial in 2021 was $7,848.

Funeral Costs – How to Bring Them Down

Funeral costs can be difficult to plan for, especially if there are unexpected medical costs for end-of-life care to consider as well. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help ease these financial obstacles: 

  • Contact Multiple Funeral Homes: Reach out to two or three funeral homes and inquire about their services and costs before choosing one. This will be an emotionally taxing responsibility, but it can help you identify potential savings.

  • Host Memorials At Home: Some families prefer to host private memorials at home (without the deceased present). This can lead to a more personal, supportive environment and allow you to save on funeral home expenses. 

  • Buy Certain Items From a Third Party: Most funeral homes will offer to handle flower arrangements, caskets, etc. but you are not obligated to purchase them. If you are trying to reduce costs, consider shopping for certain materials elsewhere. For example, Titan Casket sells caskets directly to consumers through titancasket.com, Amazon, and Sam's Club, and will ship directly to the funeral home for free.

  • Consider A Family Plot: Burial plots are one of the most significant expenses when planning a funeral. Consider purchasing a family plot to help ease the burden for future generations. 

  • Choose A Simple Grave Marker: Statues and intricate headstones can increase the overall burial costs exponentially. Opt for a simple marker or low-cost material to help reduce these expenses.

Despite these savings tips, funeral services and burials can still be costly. The best way to reduce the financial impact on your loved ones is to plan ahead as much as you can. Planning a funeral is an emotional process, and grief can easily cloud judgement. This could result in your spouse or loved one choosing more costly options to avoid handling the specifics of the event. By making these decisions ahead of time, you can make this process easier to handle. 

It is also smart to set aside funds during the Estate Planning process to cover any end-of-life medical bills and funeral arrangements. This money could come from investments, savings accounts, and, most commonly, life insurance. Specify how you want to cover funeral costs ahead of time to help remove the responsibility from your family members. 

Conclusion 

Funeral costs have risen dramatically over the last few decades, making it more important than ever to plan out finances ahead of time. As you answer the question, “how much does a funeral cost?” consider where these funds will come from. Include any end of life wishes in your Estate Plan and designate how these expenses will be paid. Whether you opt for a natural burial, cremation, or traditional funeral service — there are costs to take into account. Is there a question here we didn’t answer? Reach out to us today or Chat with a live member support representative!

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