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Funeral homes, cemeteries and other service providers expect to receive payment in full at the time of the funeral. With the average cost of a funeral around $8,000 in the United States for example, it can be a hardship if you have not planned ahead for this expenditure. There are several ways to manage your funeral costs and spare loved ones the financial burden.
The first step in managing funeral expenses is to do some advance funeral planning. At a minimum, you need a basic funeral plan to determine your expected funeral price.
Average Funeral Costs
According to last year’s funeral price survey, the average funeral costs for an adult funeral is $7,775. 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.
Depending upon the quality of the casket, burial vault and other merchandise selected, a traditional funeral and burial cost could be less than $5,000 or exceed $10,000. If no services to commemorate the deceased are desired, a direct burial or direct cremation can be arranged for under $1,000.
Funeral Costs Breakdown
1. Basic services fee for the funeral director and staff
The Funeral Rule allows funeral providers to charge a basic services fee that customers cannot decline 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.
2. Charges for other services and merchandise
These are 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.
3. Cash advances
These 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 their 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.
Managing Funeral Expenses
A funeral doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. Careful planning takes into consideration the costs vs. the benefits of the various options for funeral services and merchandise. Allocate more of your funeral money to those items that have the most meaning to you. A casket of the highest quality may be of utmost importance. Or you may choose to go with a rental casket to free more money for a mausoleum crypt or an extended visitation period.
Planning in advance is the key because it allows you the time to carefully consider your options and to ‘shop’ and compare funeral prices. By planning ahead and pre-funding your funeral, you can lock in today’s prices with a price guaranteed funeral contract.