December 19, 2017, 10:56 am

Average Cost of a Funeral in the U.S.

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Personal Finance
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We budget for a lot of things in life – kids, a home, college, retirement. There’s so much going on in the near future it’s easy to forget about events long, long down the road. Plus, most of those things aren’t the nicest to think about.

Sure, no one wants to think about funeral expenses, but that’s what we’re hinting at. Once we’re gone we don’t have to worry about the cost, but our family members will. Want to know how much they’ll have to spend to pay their final respects?

Let’s take a look at today’s funeral expenses.

Funeral Expenses

Like everything else in our global economy, funeral expenses keep steadily increasing. The overall expense if going to vary by location, but the average funeral costs is around $11,000 according to SavvySenior.org.

If you don’t have insurance for final expenses these are the funeral costs your family will have to cover.

Traditional Burial: Basic Services

  • Funeral planning
  • Notice preparation
  • Sheltering the remains
  • Cemetery arrangements
  • Permits and death certification preparation

Traditional Burial: Additional Services

  • Transportation
  • Embalming
  • Viewing fees
  • Ceremony/Memorial services
  • Casket
  • Graveside services
  • Grave liner

Cremation

More people are choosing to be cremated, partly because it’s about half the cost of a traditional funeral. However, a number of the basic funeral services/costs above will apply with a cremation. There will so be additional fees for the crematory services. Instead of a casket, family will have to purchase a vessel or container for the ashes.

Third Party Vendors

A funeral is a huge undertaking in a very short amount of time. Getting everything lined up requires the assistance of numerous professionals even for an intimate event with close family and friends. The funeral home coordinators will work with a number of third party vendor to get everything ready in a matter of days.

These third party vendors charge for their own services on top of the basic funeral expenses. They’ll either charge your family directly or charge the funeral director who will then add the expense to the funeral preparation fees.

Some of the most common third party funeral expenses include:

Floral arrangements – Traditional funerals feature numerous floral arrangements that are used during the memorial service and placed at the gravesite.

Casket – A traditional funeral with burial will require a casket. At an average cost of over $2,000, the casket is typically the single most expensive item. If you plan to do a cremation, you may need to rent a casket for the funeral services.

Obituary – If your family plans to put an obituary notice in the newspaper there will be a fee.

Officiating Clergy – Whoever presides over the funeral service will typically ask that a donation be made.

All funeral homes are required to provide an itemized expense statement that includes good faith estimates of third party fees. When you begin budgeting for funeral expenses use the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Costs and Pricing Checklist. It’s a great resource with information on average prices.

The Funeral Rule

As with many things in life, there are laws governing funerals. The FTC Funeral Rule provides guidelines that protect consumers and make funeral expenses more transparent.

The Funeral Rule was put into place to ensure that consumers are protected when they’re most vulnerable. The primary goal is to allow consumers to select the funeral services they want without overpaying for additional fees. As noted above, the Rule requires funeral homes provide itemized statements that make the expenses known. This helps you compare prices and decide which services you can do without.

Another regulation is that all service fees charged by funeral coordinators for third party services must be disclosed in writing. If the funeral director received discounts, rebates or refunds that must be disclosed too.

Keep in mind the Funeral Rule only applies to funeral homes. Cemeteries without an onsite funeral home and third party vendors do not have to adhere to the regulations.

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