If you prefer not to think about your own funeral and burial – you are hardly alone. Most people don’t want to dwell on the reality of their own mortality. You should, however, know enough about the practical expenses involved in a funeral and burial to recognize the wisdom of including a funeral planning component in your comprehensive estate plan. With that in mind, the Parman & Easterday discuss what you need to know about the cost of dying.
Funeral and Burial Prices for 2019
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral has jumped from around $6,000 in 2013 to $10,000 as of 2019, representing an increase of over 50 percent in just six years. Of course, the overall costs incurred when planning a funeral will depend, to a great extent, on how elaborate of a funeral is planned. There are three basic options:
- Traditional Funeral Services — usually include embalming, dressing of the body, funeral home rental, a viewing, body transportation (via a hearse) to the funeral site, casket cost, and a cemetery plot or crypt.
- Direct Burial — a simpler version that would likely include a simple container, no viewing or visitation, and no embalming. A memorial service would still be held at the graveside if desired.
- Cremation — the body is cremated after death without embalming and the remains are kept as the family desires.
The cost of a funeral will also depend on the specific services and “add-ons” you choose to include as well. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, some average costs include:
- Basic services — consultations, preparation and filing of permits, coordinating arrangements and third parties, overhead expenses — $2,000
- Casket — casket styles vary from simple cardboard all the way to metal and fine wood — $2,200
- Burial vault — rectangular boxes made of concrete, composite plastic, or metal that may be required by a cemetery — $1,300
- Body removal — pick up and transport costs for newly deceased body from a residence, hospital or other location to a funeral home — $125-$500
- Embalming — draining a body of fluids and replacing them with chemicals to temporarily preserve the body. It is not legally required and is growing out of style — $225-$1,200
- Dressing, hair, and makeup — preparing a body for viewing and visitation — $200
- Storage and refrigeration — $35-$125 per day
- Viewing — an opportunity for friends and loved ones to say their goodbyes, offer condolences, and see the body one last time — $150-$1,200
- Funeral ceremony staff — coordination and supervising the funeral arrangements and assisting with the ceremony — $500-$800
- Hearse or funeral coach — $300
- Urn — $100-$2,000
- Grave plot — $400 — $10,000
- Grave opening and closing — $300 — $1,000
- Graveside service — $200 — $1,700
- Grave marker — $500 — $12,000
- Flowers and music — $200 — $2,000
How Does a Funeral Planning Component in My Estate Plan Help?
Thinking of your death in terms of the cost of your funeral may be difficult to do; however, the reality is that dying is expensive. Moreover, if you put off thinking about how expensive your funeral will likely be, it will be your loved ones who will be forced to scrape together the necessary funds to pay for your funeral and burial – all while they are at the height of the grief process. Including a funeral planning component in your estate plan removes the stress and pressure from your surviving loved ones while ensuring that your wishes will be honored at the same time.
An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, or ILIT, is a commonly used estate planning tool that can help you plan for the costs associated with your funeral and make clear your wishes with regard to the details of that funeral. An ILIT is a special type of irrevocable living trust that is funded by the proceeds of a life insurance policy. The funds held by the ILIT are then available to cover the expenses relating to your funeral. At the same time, the terms of the trust agreement can be used to include details about the funeral and burial that are important to you. Legally, the Trustee of the trust must abide by those terms, thereby ensuring that your wishes will also be honored.