How much does a funeral cost? – Forbes Advisor

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The cost of living is not cheap. Neither does the cost of death.

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

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

Navigate the unknown

Josh Slocum, executive director of the nonprofit organization Funeral Consumers Alliance, which helps people plan affordable funerals, says managing funeral costs is difficult because most of us only plan one or two funerals in our lifetime. By comparison, we can buy multiple cars, cell phones, and major appliances over time, giving us a better idea of ​​what to expect price-wise.

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and cremation cost comparison website, notes that many of the more than 18,800 funeral homes in the United States do not publish their price lists online.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

Jan Smith, vice president of funeral operations at Flanner Buchanan Funeral Centers, a funeral home with 13 locations in Indiana, says that while many funeral homes post their price lists online, she suggests that a funeral home ” guide you’ the price to fully understand the costs.

“I think it’s important to speak with 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 receive,” says Smith. “I always encourage people to do their homework and educate themselves.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) funeral rule, funeral homes must provide pricing information over the phone if you request it. Although they don’t have to, many funeral homes will send you a price list by mail, and some will post their listings online, according to the FTC. A funeral home must also give you a detailed price list in writing if you go to the funeral home.

To help reduce the costs of funeral arrangements, you can check out resources from websites like Funeralocity and organizations like the Funeral Consumers Alliance.

“There’s really no good reason to spend an extra $2,000 or $3,000 on a very simple service when you can usually find someone in your area more reasonably priced,” Slocum says.

National Median Funeral Costs

Here’s a look at what you might expect to pay if you’re planning a funeral.

Direct cremation offers an alternative to funerals

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

The Cremation Society of America says that direct cremation allows the deceased person to be cremated in a simple container or vessel instead of an expensive casket. Additionally, this approach eliminates the need for embalming, which has a national median cost of $775.

The average cost of a direct cremation performed by 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.

Using life insurance to pay for a funeral

Whatever services you settle on, paying for a funeral can strain someone’s budget. If you are concerned that a survivor will cover your funeral expenses, you might consider purchasing a funeral insurance policy. Sometimes known as funeral insurance or final expense insurance, this is a type of life insurance designed specifically for funeral or cremation costs and final expenses. Funeral insurance policies are usually sold in small amounts, such as $5,000 to $25,000.

But you don’t need specific funeral insurance to pay your final expenses. For example, your beneficiaries can use the death benefit from any life insurance policy to pay for the cost of the funeral.

Compare life insurance companies

Compare policies with the 8 major insurers

Other Ways to Pay for a Funeral

Here are some other options for paying funeral expenses.

  • Pre-need funeral insurance. This is insurance purchased directly from a funeral home. The advantage is that you will be able to lock in a contract and prices. But your plan may not be “portable,” meaning you won’t be able to transfer it to another state. And the provident insurance only pays for the funeral. It does not provide funds that go to your family for other needs they may have.
  • Account payable on death (POD). Also called “Totten Trusts”, this is a way to set aside money for your final expenses with a bank account. You can designate who will have access to the money when you die, but your beneficiary will not have access to the money while you are alive.
  • Funeral trusts. This is an agreement where you can set money aside for final expenses and appoint a trustee. The trustee can withdraw money from the account after your death.
  • Trusts. 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 set out in the trust documents.
  • Savings account. You can use a regular savings account to pay for your funeral, but your money could be held in probate after your death. You could potentially avoid this problem by adding someone 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 are 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:

  • Benefits for veterans. Veterans can be buried for free in one of the 141 national cemeteries. Spouses and dependents may also qualify. Check with the US Department of Veterans Affairs for eligibility requirements.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For deaths resulting from a declared disaster or emergency, you may be eligible 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.
  • Compensation programs for victims of crime. Some states provide financial assistance to help pay for funerals for victims of violent crimes. The following is a list of state programs from the National Association of Criminal Injuries Compensation Boards.
  • Personal loans. Sometimes called “funeral loans”, these are real personal loans that you can spend however you want. Personal loans are generally unsecured, which means they don’t require collateral (like a lien on your car) and often have high interest rates, which can vary between 16% and 35%, depending on the location. ‘AARP.
  • Crowdfunding. It usually refers to fundraising through donations from the general public, such as churches, other organizations, and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe.

How to save on funeral and burial costs

While the median price for a funeral with viewing is $7,848 and a cremation with viewing is $6,970, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a better price. Here are some tips for saving on funeral and burial costs.

  • Compare the prices. Compare prices between funeral homes. Funeral prices can vary considerably for the same type of service in the same city. A 2017 investigation by NPR found that one funeral home charged nearly twice as much as another funeral home for a cremation, even though both funeral homes used the same offsite facility.
  • Ask a family member or friend to help you negotiate prices. Organizing a funeral can be both stressful and emotional. You may want to ask a trusted friend or family member to speak on your behalf.
  • Get pricing information over the phone. Take advantage of the FTC’s funeral rule and ask for prices over the phone.
  • Buy only the goods and services you want. Under the Funeral Rule, you have the right to purchase goods and services separately. For example, you can buy a burial, a memorial, and a coffin. You don’t have to accept a funeral home package if you don’t want to.
  • Don’t buy a coffin. If you have a cremation or an alternative (such as a green burial), you do not need to purchase a casket. If you would like to arrange a visitation, you may be able to hire one from the funeral home.

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