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The Ultimate Guide to Cost Considerations When Planning a Funeral

Funeral expenses have been steadily rising which really isn't too surprising when looking at other climbing consumer costs. As deathcare has become increasingly unaffordable for many Americans, the number of unclaimed bodies has started to rise along across the country and so has the number of individuals who keep cremated remains on their hall closets or on their mantles.

Oof. We don't like either of those options.

It's important to know what your deathcare options are and to make plans for your end-of-life needs. That begins with understanding the costs associated with deathcare.

The cost of a funeral can vary widely depending on various factors, including the location, funeral service provider, the type of services, whether choosing cremation or in-ground burial, and additional expenses such as transportation, flowers, and memorialization. Cultural or religious practices might also be a factor that can alter funeral plans and associated costs.

Nevertheless, we're here to inform so we want to offer some general cost considerations to keep in mind.

  1. A Basic Service Fee, charged by the funeral home, typically includes the necessary services and overhead costs. It can range from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars.

  2. Casket or Urn costs vary dramatically. Simple caskets made from less expensive materials cost less than their more elaborate counterparts. Urns for cremated remains, while oftentimes lower in cost than caskets, also come in a variety of styles and can vary significantly in price.

  3. Embalming and Preparation costs can arise when choosing in-ground burial or cremation. When "direct cremation" is chosen, that usually mean that no additional bodily care or preservation is requested, but other cremation packages can include body preparation for public viewing, like embalming.

  4. Cremation services can often offset other costs, like embalming, when opting for Direct Cremation.

  5. Facility Fees can include the cost of using the funeral home's facilities for services such as viewings, funeral ceremonies, and memorial services. Sometimes graveside service fees might be included or separately incurred.

  6. Transportation, or costs for transporting the deceased, can vary in cost dramatically. Funeral homes or service providers often offer free local pick-up, but may have additional fees if the body must then be transported to another location. Transportation costs can be incurred if a person dies while traveling away from their home or place of final interment. There can also be transportation charges for delivering the deceased in their casket from the funeral home to the cemetery.

  7. Cemetery fees can be different from the fees assigned by the funeral home and can include the cost of burial plots, crypts, or columbarium placement. Factors like location and space availability can impact those charges. Additional fees for opening and closing the grave or installing a "vault" for the casket can also be added.

  8. Marker or Memorialization Products, like granite headstones or memorial plaques, vary considerably based on provider, materials, and countless other factors. Permanent final placement often requires a memorialization marker at cemeteries and memorial gardens.

  9. Additional Expenses can include flower arrangements or printed materials for the funeral service. It can also include catering for funeral receptions or fees for the pastor or celebrant presiding over the funeral service.

It's crucial to discuss all potential costs with the funeral home and carefully review the itemized pricing to understand where the expenses are coming from. Additionally, if you're pre-planning a funeral, consider getting quotes from multiple funeral homes to compare costs and services.

Remember that funeral expenses can be a significant financial burden so understanding your options can help with planning, and budgeting. Some individuals opt for prepaid funeral plans to alleviate the financial burden on their loved ones. It's advisable to consult with a funeral director, an estate attorney, and a financial advisor to make informed decisions based on your preferences and budget.

Additionally, you may be part of a spiritual community, non-profit organization, or secular institution that offers deathcare options you might not know about yet. More than half of Americans prefer non-traditional final placement outside of a cemetery setting and communities around the country are rapidly rising to meet this consumer shift.

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