Financial planning: how much does a funeral actually cost?

August 21, 2014

A vital part of financial planning often overlooked is the cost of a funeral. The amount can be substantial and should be factored into your plan to help those who are left behind.
Many funeral homes will offer a service bundle that is tailored to the family’s needs. They will usually include the basic items like transporting the remains, preparing the body (with and without embalming), permits, coordinating the ceremony, the use of the funeral home facilities for both visitations and a service, and the staff to tend to these events. A hearse will be a part of this bundle, but the price will vary depending on the vehicles used. This type of bundle will start at approximately $1,800 and could go as high as $4,000, depending on exactly what services the family would like.

Financial planning: how much does a funeral actually cost?

Potential funeral costs:

  • Caskets or urns, starting at $900 and reaching as high as $3,000 or more.
  • A casket vault which protects the integrity of the ground around the coffin. Pricing ranges from $900 to $3,000.
  • Urns can cost between $75 to $400.The addition of an urn vault will add $600 to the overall cost.
  • A plot will cost approximately $1,200 to $1,500, depending on the cemetery.
  • The cost to prepare or dig the grave varies depending on the day of the week and the time of the year. This expense will start at $1,000 and can increase to $1,800.
  • If the remains are to be cremated, service fees will be dependent on the crematorium involved, but will include the cremation fee and a coroner's certificate. This combined total will average $700 to $900.

Optional funeral costs:

  • A clergy to officiate the funeral typically includes an honorarium of about $200.
  • The fee for an obituary is calculated by word, based on the publication used. An average of $125 should be allocated for this.
  • A flower arrangement from the family will start at $150 and increase depending on the flowers selected.
  • A headstone is often purchased after some time has passed, so the cost can often be discounted from overall funeral expenses. An average-size headstone will start at $750.

For those that cannot afford a funeral on their own, it could be helpful to know that most funeral homes can provide information about subsidy options funded by community programs. This is why considering the cost of a funeral is an important part of financial planning.

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