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Paying For a Funeral: 11 Ways to Help Ease The Financial Burden March 3, 2021

paying for a funeral

Paying for a funeral can be stressful. Most people don’t realize that they have to pay for a funeral in-full before any services are carried out, which means that it’s important to have a financial plan in place to pay for any planned or unexpected funeral expenses that might come your way. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to pay for a funeral, either ahead of time or at the time you’re planning a funeral. Each payment method has its pros and cons, so it’s good to do your research and decide which method is best for you and your loved ones.

Average Funeral Cost

How much does a funeral cost? The short answer is that funeral costs range anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000, but there are certainly ways to bring expenses down if you need to. 

When it comes to planning a funeral service, there are several costs to keep in mind:

  • The funeral home you choose
  • A graveside service
  • The type of casket you choose
  • Grave markers, headstones, or vaults
  • Embalming or refrigeration costs
  • A cemetery’s closing and opening costs for burials
  • Flowers, obituary postings, transportation, and more

If this all feels overwhelming, you’re not alone, start by researching funeral homes in your area. Funeral home costs vary, seldomly some offer financial assistance while most others don’t, mainly for tax reasons, and funeral homes aren’t set up to be lending institutions. This type of pre-planning and knowing the specific costs of everything you’d like included in a funeral service can help ease some of the financial burden and stress that often comes with planning a funeral. Once you have an idea of how much everything will cost, you can decide which things are priorities and what you might be able to live without. 

So now that you know a bit more about the funeral-planning process, here’s a funeral cost breakdown to give you an idea of what you’ll be paying for:

  • Funeral home service fee or professional service fee: This is a common, non-declinable fee that covers things like securing permits or the death certificate and coordinating any other necessary arrangements. This fee costs between $2,000 and $2,500+.
  • Burial: The average burial costs around $9,000 depending on the casket, burial vault, cemetery fees, and headstone, or other burial items you choose.
  • Embalming: $800-$1,500+ depending on the funeral home and whether or not the body is being cremated.
  • Floral arrangements: These run between $500-$700 and include things like wreaths, sprays, bouquets, and more.
  • Cemetery opening and closing fees: Most people don’t know that the cemetery will charge you to open and close the burial site. This costs around $1,000 in addition to the plot cost, which runs between $1,000 and $4,000.
  • Headstones and gravemarkers: $2,000-$5,000 depending on size, engraving, and design. You can save some money by purchasing a grave marker that lies flat on the ground—these usually cost around $1,000
  • Casket: If you’re planning a traditional funeral service, this will most likely be your biggest expense. On average, caskets cost between $2,000 and $5,000 but can cost up to $10,000+ depending on the material and design.

Paying For a Funeral

People make funeral payments in any number of ways, the most popular of which are checks, credit cards, or an assignment of proceeds from life insurance. Most funeral homes will accept cash, but it’s rare for someone to have thousands of dollars of cash on hand at any given time. Recently, a handful of funeral homes have started accepting payment via apps, such as Venmo and PayPal, but it will likely take some time for this payment method to be widely accepted in the funeral industry.

If you’re not prepared to make a one-time, upfront payment, don’t sweat it. You have options.

Average funeral cost

Preplanning  

Many people choose to preplan theirs or their loved one’s funeral in order to pay for services ahead of time, often paying in installments to preserve their budgets.

At Bateman-Allen Funeral Home, you will be well informed on the total cost of your funeral as you finalize your prearrangement plans. While you are not obligated to set aside funds for your plan, it is highly recommended that you do.

Ultimately, you end up saving money because you are paying today’s rates for the funeral, and not the rates that will be in place at the time of need. When you prepay, Bateman-Allen Funeral Home places the funds in a Future Interment Master Trust where interest is earned until it is needed. This assures that even if the cost of the funeral goes up, the funds are there to pay for it because of that interest.

You and your loved ones would not need to pay anything additional for what you have preplanned. Inflation and price changes are no longer your concern. It is important to note, however, that miscellaneous fees or cash advances, such as newspaper death notices, floral arrangements, and cemetery plots, cannot be guaranteed since they are not billed by the funeral home. Bateman-Allen Funeral Home can discuss a payment plan if that suits your needs—however, a one-time single payment is preferred.

Paying at the time of pre-planning also relieves your survivors of the stress of second-guessing if they have spent too much or too little on your funeral. Preplanning and prepaying your funeral are some of the most thoughtful, final gifts you can give to your family.

Bateman-Allen Funeral Home prides itself in keeping very accurate records of your preplanned arrangements and any prepayments that have been made. If you decide to preplan and prepay, you may contact us at any time to review your selections and make changes if you so choose.

Not all preplans are the same, so be sure to go over your options with the funeral home you’re working with.

Funeral Insurance

One of the most popular ways to pay for a funeral is with life insurance. Most life insurance policies will pay an appointed beneficiary a lump sum after the policy holder’s death. This money is intended for funeral service costs and any other needs of the policy holder’s surviving family. There are two primary life insurance policies: burial insurance and preneed funeral insurance.

Burial Insurance

Burial insurance is a method of life insurance that covers cremation or funeral costs after the policy holder’s death. Typically, benefits offered by burial insurance range from $5,000 to $25,000, but some insurance companies will offer more. If the burial insurance covers the cost of the funeral, and there are still funds leftover, the beneficiary can use these funds to pay the policy holder’s outstanding expenses, such as medical bills.

Preneed Funeral Insurance

Similar to burial insurance, preneed funeral insurance policies help cover any funeral home services, such as caskets, flowers, and more in addition to any burial, church, or other services. Preneed insurance can also help with costs associated with preplanning in order to protect you against inflation when it comes to funeral expenses. 

However, unlike burial insurance, preneed insurance benefits are paid to the funeral home rather than a beneficiary upon the policy holder’s death.

Funeral cost breakdown

Payable-on-Death Account

A payable-on-death or POD account acts as a savings account for funeral expenses. Similar to life insurance policies, the account holder must appoint a beneficiary to access the money in the account upon the account holder’s death. The beneficiary just needs to have a death certificate to present to the bank to access the money.

Savings Account

Anyone can set up a regular savings account with the intent of using the money to cover funeral expenses. The downside to this option is that the payout could be delayed due to it having to go through probate. 

Veterans Benefits

Any veteran of the military is eligible to be buried in a national cemetery for free. The Department of Veterans Affairs will often help cover some burial expenses, but the amount they pay depends on whether or not the death was service-related.

Borrowing

You can also use a credit card or take out a personal loan to pay for funeral costs. Some lenders do offer funeral loans, which usually don’t accrue interest for the first few months. You can talk with your funeral director about funeral loan options—they usually can recommend lending companies.

Low-Cost Options

If the above options are unavailable to you or you’re still struggling with covering funeral costs, there are low-cost options, such as direct cremation or green burial. Your loved one can also choose to donate their body to science, and the medical facility will cremate them and return their ashes to you for free.

Religious Organizations

If your loved one passes unexpectedly and doesn’t have life insurance, there are charitable organizations that can help cover some or all of the funeral costs. Many houses of worship have a fund set aside to assist members with funeral costs and often help people in the community, too. 

Social Security

If your loved one is or was receiving Social Security benefits, they might be eligible for the death benefit payment of $255. While this isn’t much, it can help make up an extra few hundred dollars if you’re behind on your budget.

Crowdfunding

You can always use a crowdfunding website to ask for donations to cover funeral costs. Many people use GoFundMe, but there are several other sites that help with crowdfunding, including Funeral Fund, which is specifically for funeral fundraising.