How much does a funeral cost? – Forbes Advisor

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The cost of living is not exactly cheap. Nor the cost of dying.

A 2021 study by the National Funeral Directors Association shows that the median cost of an adult funeral with viewing and cremation is $7,848, up 6.6% from 2016. The median cost of an adult funeral with viewing and cremation is $6,970 $, up 11.3% from 2016.

One of the highest costs associated with an adult funeral is the coffin. The study finds that the median price of a wooden grave casket is $3,000 and the median price of a metal one is $2,500. Meanwhile, a “green burial” casket costs an average price of $1,500 and a cremation coffin averages $1,310. The study puts the median cost of a rented coffin at $995.

Navigating in the unknown

Josh Slocum, executive director of the nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance, which helps people plan affordable funerals, says it’s difficult to control the costs associated with funerals because most of us only plan one or two funerals in our lifetime . In comparison, we can buy multiple cars, phones, and major appliances over time, giving us a better sense of what to expect in terms of prices.

A lack of price transparency complicates the situation. Ed Michael Reggie, founder and CEO of Funeralocity, a website that compares funeral and cremation costs, notes that many of the more than 18,800 funeral homes in the US do not post their price lists online. Therefore, he says, you may need to call multiple funeral homes to compare funeral costs.

Jan Smith, vice president for funeral homes at Flanner Buchanan Funeral Centers, a funeral home with 13 locations in Indiana, says although many funeral homes post their price lists online, she suggests having a funeral home walk you through pricing to give you a full view of costs .

“I think it’s important to talk to the different vendors because there are often different things that different vendors may or may not include, so the price doesn’t necessarily reflect the value of everything you’re going to get,” says Smith. “I always encourage people to do their homework and educate themselves.”

Under the burial rule enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), funeral directors are required to provide pricing information over the phone if you ask for it. Though not required to do so, many funeral homes will send you a price list, and some post their lists online, the FTC says. A funeral home must also provide you with a written, detailed price list when you visit the funeral home.

To save on funeral arrangements costs, you can check out resources from sites like Funeralocity and organizations like the Funeral Consumers Alliance.

“There’s really no good reason to shell out an extra $2,000 or $3,000 for a very basic service when you can usually find someone in your area has a cheaper rate,” says Slocum.

National median burial costs

Here’s a look at the expenses you can expect when planning a funeral.

Direct cremation offers an alternative to burial

If you’re worried about paying thousands of dollars for a funeral, Reggie recommends turning to direct cremation. Direct cremation, also called simple cremation or immediate cremation, is the process of cremating a person’s remains shortly after death, bypassing the viewing, visitation, burial, and burial.

The Cremation Society of America says direct cremation allows the deceased to be cremated in a simple container or vessel rather than an expensive coffin. Additionally, this approach eliminates the need for embalming, which costs a national average of $775.

The average cost of a direct cremation at a crematorium is $1,000 to $2,200, while the average cost of a direct cremation at a funeral home is $1,600 to $3,000, according to, which helps people find funeral service providers.

Pay for a funeral with life insurance

Regardless of which services you choose, paying for a funeral can take a toll on a person’s budget. If you are concerned that a bereaved family will pay for your funeral expenses, consider purchasing funeral insurance. Sometimes referred to as burial insurance or terminal expenses insurance, it is a type of life insurance specifically designed for funeral or cremation expenses and terminal expenses. Funeral insurance is usually sold in small amounts, e.g. B. $5,000 to $25,000.

But you don’t need special funeral insurance to pay for your final expenses. For example, your beneficiaries can use the death benefit of any life insurance plan to pay for a funeral.

Compare life insurance

Compare policies with 8 leading insurers

Other ways to pay for a funeral

Here are some other ways to pay for funeral expenses.

  • Funeral insurance in advance. This is insurance purchased directly from a funeral home. The advantage is that you can commit yourself to a contract and prices. But your plan may not be “transferable,” meaning you can’t take it with you to another state. And the pension insurance only pays for a funeral. It does not provide funds that go to your family for other needs they may have.
  • Payable on Death (POD) account. Also known as ‘Totten Trusts’, this is a way to set aside money for your last expenses with a bank account. You can name the person who will have access to the money after you die, but your beneficiary will not have access to the money as long as you live.
  • funeral home. This is an arrangement where you set aside money for final expenses and appoint a trustee. The trustee can withdraw money from the account after your death.
  • Trust. In this type of arrangement, the trust owns the life insurance policy. When you die, the trustee makes a claim and the funds are distributed according to your wishes as described in the trust documents.
  • Saving account. You can use a regular savings account to pay for your funeral, but your money could be held in estates after your death. You could potentially avoid this problem by adding someone to a joint savings account to use the money for the funeral, but that person has full access to the account while they are alive.

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

  • Veteran Benefits. Veterans can be buried free of charge in one of 141 national cemeteries. Spouses and dependents may also qualify. Check with that US Department of Veterans Affairs for the admission requirements.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). You may be entitled to compensation for death resulting from a declared disaster or emergency FEMA Funeral Assistance.
  • government aid. Many states have financial assistance programs if you cannot afford a funeral. Here is a List of programs by state, compiled by Funeralwise.
  • Compensation programs for victims of crime. Some states provide financial assistance to fund funerals for victims of violent crime. Here is a List of government programs by the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards.
  • Personal Loans. Sometimes referred to as “funeral loans,” these are truly personal loans that you can spend as you please. Personal loans are typically unsecured, meaning they don’t require collateral (like a lien on your car) and often have high interest rates, which can range from 16% to 35%, according to the AARP.
  • crowdfunding. This generally refers to raising funds through donations from the general public, e.g. B. from churches, other organizations and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe.

This will save you funeral and burial expenses

While the average price for a funeral visit is $7,848 and a cremation visit is $6,970, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a better price. Here are some tips to save on funeral and burial expenses.

  • Shopping spree. Compare prices between funeral homes. Funeral prices can vary widely for the same type of service in the same city. A 2017 NPR investigation found one funeral home charging almost twice as much for a cremation as another funeral home, even though both funeral homes used the same outside facility.
  • Have a family member or friend help you negotiate the price. Planning a funeral can be both stressful and emotional. You may want a trusted friend or family member to speak on your behalf.
  • Get price information over the phone. Use the FTC’s burial rule and call for prices.
  • Buy only the goods and services you want. According to the burial rule, you have the right to purchase goods and services separately. For example, you can buy a funeral, a memorial and a coffin. You don’t have to accept a funeral home’s package if you don’t want to.
  • Don’t buy a coffin. If you have cremation or an alternative (e.g. green burial) you don’t need to buy a coffin. If you would like to hold a viewing, you may be able to hire one from the funeral home.

About Cindy Johnson

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