In today’s world, end-of-life expenses can be a significant financial burden for families. One of the most significant expenses associated with death is the cost of a funeral.
A while most of us understand that a funeral is a ceremony that marks the end of a person’s life and allows family and friends to come together to grieve and say goodbye. What’s missing from this definition is the cost attached to providing such a valuable ceremony. A const that can vary significantly depending on the type of service, location, and additional services and products that are included.
It is important for individuals and families to understand the costs associated with funerals and to plan ahead for end-of-life expenses. This article will provide an overview of the cost of a funeral, including traditional funeral and cremation costs, factors that affect the cost of a funeral, payment options, and ways to save money.
Components of a funeral service
A funeral service typically includes several components, which can vary depending on the individual’s preferences and cultural or religious beliefs. Some of the most common components of a funeral service include:
- Visitation or viewing: This is an opportunity for family and friends to visit the deceased in a private or public setting, usually at a funeral home or mortuary.
- Funeral service or ceremony: This is a formal event that can take place at a funeral home, church, temple, or other location. It is usually led by a religious leader, and it can include eulogies, prayers, hymns, and other rituals.
- Burial or cremation: This is the final disposition of the deceased’s body. A burial typically takes place in a cemetery, while cremation reduces the body to ashes.
- Reception: A reception is typically held after the funeral service, it can be held at a funeral home, community center, or other location and it’s a time for family and friends to come together and remember the deceased.
- Memorialization: This is the process of preserving the memory of the deceased through a memorial service, a headstone, or other means of remembrance.
It is important to note that not all funerals include all of these components, and the components that are included can vary depending on the individual’s preferences and cultural or religious beliefs.
Additionally, some of the components may be combined or modified to best suit the needs of the individual and their loved ones. That said, however, it’s safe to say that the more elaborate each of the components becomes, the more money you will be expected to pay.
The average cost of a funeral
The average cost of a funeral can vary depending on several factors such as location, type of service, and additional services or products that are included. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the median cost of a traditional funeral with burial in the United States in 2020 was $9,135.
This cost includes the cost of a casket, a cemetery plot, and other expenses such as embalming, a viewing, and a funeral service. However, it is important to note that these costs can vary widely depending on the services and products included, as well as the location of the funeral.
In comparison, the median cost of cremation was $6,045 in 2020 according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). The cost of a basic cremation, which includes the use of the crematory and the return of the ashes to the family, can range from $600 to $3,000. However, when additional services and products such as a memorial service, urn, or death certificates are included, the cost can increase
Traditional funeral vs. cremation
A traditional funeral and cremation are both methods of final disposition for the deceased, but they can vary significantly in terms of cost, services, and cultural or religious beliefs.
A traditional funeral typically includes a viewing or visitation, a funeral service, and a burial in a cemetery. The body is embalmed and placed in a casket, which is then buried in a cemetery plot. Traditional funerals can also include a hearse, flowers, and other services such as a reception.
On the other hand, cremation is a process of reducing the body to ashes through the use of high heat and flame. The body is placed in a special chamber called a cremation chamber or retort, and the resulting ashes are then placed in an urn or other container and can be kept by the family, buried, or scattered in a special location. Cremation does not require embalming and it can take place before or after a memorial service, a reception, or any other kind of ceremony.
The choice between a traditional funeral and cremation is a personal one that is based on individual beliefs, values, and preferences. Additionally, the cost can also be a factor as a traditional funeral is typically more expensive than cremation.
Additional services that can increase the cost of a burial
- Casket or burial vault: A casket is a traditional container for the deceased’s remains, while a burial vault is a protective outer container that is placed in the ground to prevent the ground from collapsing around the casket. Both can be made from a variety of materials such as wood, metal, or even bio-degradable materials. These can be purchased from funeral homes or casket retailers and can vary greatly in price depending on the materials and design.
- Grave liner or outer burial container: A grave liner is a type of container that is placed in the ground to provide support for the casket and to prevent the ground from collapsing around it. An outer burial container is similar, but it is designed to encase the entire casket, providing additional protection.
- Headstone or grave marker: A headstone is a traditional marker placed at the head of a gravesite, while a grave marker is a smaller marker that is placed at the foot of the gravesite. Both can be made from a variety of materials such as granite, marble, or bronze and can be engraved with the deceased’s name, dates of birth and death, and any other inscriptions.
- Gravesite preparation fee: This fee covers the cost of preparing a gravesite for a burial, including digging the grave, leveling the ground, and filling it in after the burial.
- Burial plot or cemetery space: A burial plot is a piece of land in a cemetery where a person can be buried, and it can vary in size and location. Cemetery space can be purchased, leased or rented and can be in a traditional cemetery, a memorial garden, a mausoleum or a columbarium.
- Funeral or memorial service: A funeral service is a formal ceremony held in honor of the deceased, while a memorial service is a more informal ceremony that can be held at any location, such as a park or community center. Both can include elements such as eulogies, music, and religious or secular readings.
- Hearse or limousine service: A hearse is a vehicle used to transport the deceased’s remains to the cemetery, while a limousine is a luxury vehicle that is often used to transport the deceased’s family and friends to the cemetery.
- Obituary notices or death announcements: Obituary notices are announcements of a person’s death that are published in newspapers, while death announcements are similar but are typically sent to family and friends via mail or email.
- Flowers or other memorial arrangements: Flowers or other memorial arrangements such as wreaths or standing sprays are often used to decorate the gravesite or the location of a funeral or memorial service.
- Burial gown or suit: A burial gown or suit is a special outfit that is worn by the deceased during a funeral or memorial service.
- Burial or cremation permit or death certificate: A burial or cremation permit is a legal document that is required in order to bury or cremate a deceased person, while a death certificate is a legal document that is issued by a government agency and is used to establish the cause and time of death.
- Graveside service: A graveside service is a ceremony held at the gravesite, usually immediately following the funeral service. This service can include religious or secular elements such as prayers, speeches, and music.
- Burial flag: A burial flag is a flag that is typically presented to the family of a deceased veteran as a symbol of their loved one’s service to their country.
- Additional services such as hiring a professional grief counselor, arranging for a live musician to perform at the service, or renting a tent or chairs for an outdoor service can also increase the cost of a burial. Some families may choose to purchase additional services such as a video or photo montage to be played at the service, hiring a professional photographer to capture the service, or even arranging for a dove release at the gravesite to commemorate the deceased.
Ways to save money on a funeral
Here are a few ways to potentially save money on a funeral:
- Opt for a direct cremation or direct burial: This type of service does not include a viewing or traditional funeral service, and can be a more affordable option.
- Have the service at a non-traditional location: Instead of having the service at a funeral home or church, consider having it at a park, community center, or other location that may be less expensive to rent.
- Choose a less expensive casket or urn: Caskets and urns can vary greatly in price, and opting for a less expensive option can save money.
- Limit the number of flowers or memorial arrangements: Flowers and memorial arrangements can be costly, and limiting the number or opting for a more simple arrangement can save money.
- Consider a graveside service: A graveside service is typically less expensive than a traditional funeral service.
- Opt for a cremation instead of a burial: Cremation is usually less expensive than a traditional burial.
- Consider a pre-paid funeral plan: Pre-paid funeral plans allow individuals to pay for their funeral in advance and can help lock in a lower price.
- Look into government assistance or veterans benefits: Some government programs may be able to help cover the cost of a funeral for low-income individuals or veterans.
- Be mindful of additional service charges and fees: Some funeral homes may charge additional fees for things like obituary notices, death certificates, or other services, so it’s important to ask about these in advance and compare prices.
It’s important to keep in mind that funeral costs can vary greatly depending on the services and merchandise selected, so it’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple providers and compare prices before making a decision.
Payment options for funerals
When it comes to paying for a funeral, there are several options available. One of the most common ways to pay for a funeral is through out-of-pocket expenses. This means that the family or loved ones of the deceased will pay for the funeral costs using their own savings or by taking out a loan.
Another option is to purchase a pre-paid funeral plan. This type of plan allows individuals to pay for their funeral in advance and typically includes a guaranteed price lock, meaning that the cost of the funeral will not increase even if prices do in the future.
Life insurance and final expense insurance are also options to consider. Many life insurance policies include a death benefit that can be used to cover funeral expenses. Final expense insurance, on the other hand, is specifically designed to cover end-of-life expenses such as funeral costs.
Government assistance is also available for low-income individuals or veterans. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides financial assistance for veterans and their families to cover funeral and burial expenses. Social security can also provide a one-time death benefit payment to help cover funeral expenses for low-income individuals.
Final expense insurance policies
Final expense insurance policies are a type of life insurance that are specifically designed to cover end-of-life expenses, such as funeral costs. These policies typically have smaller death benefit amounts compared to traditional life insurance policies, and are often marketed to seniors or individuals with limited financial means. The death benefit from these policies can be used to cover expenses such as funeral costs, medical bills, outstanding debts, or even final expenses that may not be covered by other forms of insurance.
Final expense insurance policies are typically sold as whole life insurance, which means that they have a fixed premium and provide coverage for the entirety of the policyholder’s life as long as premiums are paid. The premiums for final expense insurance policies are usually higher than term life insurance policies because they are permanent policies and the death benefit is guaranteed.
It’s important to note that some final expense insurance policies have certain restrictions, such as a waiting period before the death benefit can be paid.
That said, however, we here at IBUSA understand the importance of these types of life insurance policies and with with many of the best final expense insurance companies in the industry so that we can provide our clients with plenty of options when it comes time to choose the right life insurance policy for them.
So, please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions what so ever, we’d love an opportunity to help you and your family find the coverage you need.