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Funeral Costs 101: How Much Does A Funeral Really Cost?

Depending on the type of funeral service you are having, the cost can vary significantly. Here's what you need to know about how much funerals cost.

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Funerals signify an important step in the grieving process for family members and loved ones. Unfortunately, these events can cost thousands of dollars, often creating an unexpected financial hurdle for those going through an already difficult time. 

The best way to protect your loved ones from these costs is by planning ahead and accounting for your funeral as you create an Estate Plan. Many individuals will opt to set aside life insurance proceeds or extra money specifically for funeral expenses. However, to plan correctly you will need to answer, “how much does a funeral cost?” Keep reading to learn more about what to expect: 

How Much Does a Funeral Cost in 2021?

The average funeral costs anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000 -- which accounts for transportation, services, burial, embalming, a casket, and other necessary arrangements. A recent study done by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that these costs have risen upwards of 221 percent over the last 40 years. 

The exact price will vary depending on the type of funeral and burial arrangements made. There are a few different options to choose from including cremation, natural burials, and traditional funeral services. Choosing which type of funeral to have is an extremely personal decision, but it can help to understand the costs associated with each type as you begin your research. 

How Much Does a Cremation Cost?

The average cost of a cremation and accompanying funeral service is between $2,000 and $4,000. The biggest cost variable is geographic area, as certain cities and states will charge more for these services. For example, the average cost of a funeral and cremation in Denver, CO is roughly $3,348 according to research done by Parting.com

How Much Does a Natural Burial Cost?

Natural burials cost around $1,000 to $4,000 and typically include a service, eco-friendly casket, and future grounds maintenance. Natural burials are becoming increasingly popular because they attempt to minimize the environmental impact of a traditional burial -- while also reducing overall funeral costs. The biggest expense associated with a natural burial is often the cost of the burial plot.

How Much Does a Traditional Burial Cost? 

A traditional burial often includes a visitation, funeral service, casket, transportation, and burial; they cost anywhere between $5,000 and $12,000. However, the National Funeral Directors Association released statistics placing the average traditional burial cost at $7,640 in 2019. The price range is so large because the cost of caskets, plots, and grave markers can vary quite a lot. For example, these costs will be much lower if you already have a family burial site; and they can increase for those who prefer a vault instead of a traditional grave. 

How Much Does a Simple Funeral Cost? 

The cost of a simple funeral is typically around $3,000 to $5,000. A simple funeral refers to the practice of skipping a visitation or formal service and proceeding to the burial soon after death. This practice is sometimes called a direct burial and is a common option to reduce overall costs. With a simple funeral, loved ones can still opt for an informal memorial service though it will not be hosted by the funeral home. 

Funeral Costs - How to Bring Them Down

Funeral costs can be difficult to plan for, especially if there are unexpected medical costs for end-of-life care to consider as well. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help ease these financial obstacles: 

  • Contact Multiple Funeral Homes: Reach out to two or three funeral homes and inquire about their services and costs before choosing one. This will be an emotionally taxing responsibility, but it can help you identify potential savings.

  • Host Memorials At Home: Some families prefer to host private memorials at home (without the deceased present). This can lead to a more personal, supportive environment and allow you to save on funeral home expenses. 

  • Buy Certain Items From a Third Party: Most funeral homes will offer to handle flower arrangements, caskets, etc. but you are not obligated to purchase them. If you are trying to reduce costs, consider shopping for certain materials elsewhere. For example, Titan Casket sells caskets directly to consumers through titancasket.com, Amazon, and Sam's Club, and will ship directly to the funeral home for free.

  • Consider A Family Plot: Burial plots are one of the most significant expenses when planning a funeral. Consider purchasing a family plot to help ease the burden for future generations. 

  • Choose A Simple Grave Marker: Statues and intricate headstones can increase the overall burial costs exponentially. Opt for a simple marker or low-cost material to help reduce these expenses.

Despite these savings tips, funeral services and burials can still be costly. The best way to reduce the financial impact on your loved ones is to plan ahead as much as you can. Planning a funeral is an emotional process, and grief can easily cloud judgement. This could result in your spouse or loved one choosing more costly options to avoid handling the specifics of the event. By making these decisions ahead of time, you can make this process easier to handle. 

It is also smart to set aside funds during the Estate Planning process to cover any end-of-life medical bills and funeral arrangements. This money could come from investments, savings accounts, and, most commonly, life insurance. Specify how you want to cover funeral costs ahead of time to help remove the responsibility from your family members. 

Conclusion 

Funeral costs have risen dramatically over the last few decades, making it more important than ever to plan out finances ahead of time. As you answer the question, “how much does a funeral cost?” consider where these funds will come from. Include any end of life wishes in your Estate Plan and designate how these expenses will be paid. Whether you opt for a natural burial, cremation, or traditional funeral service -- there are costs to take into account. Is there a question here we didn’t answer? Reach out to us today or Chat with a live member support representative!

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