Funeral Expenses - Pre-Planning Burial Costs

Funeral Expenses: Pre-planning Burial Costs

These days, it really pays to plan ahead - really plan ahead, in regard to funeral costs and expenses.

Now more than ever, it's important for seniors, family members and caregivers to discuss funeral expenses long before they're needed. This doesn't mean pre-purchasing, but pre-planning.

Consumers are advised not to pre-pay for burial or funeral costs more than six months in advance, as the funeral provider or mortuary may go out of business in a relatively short period of time, leaving individuals who have pre-paid for burials or funeral planning services literally up a creek without a paddle.

However, understanding what's involved in funeral expenses and making burial arrangements may help seniors, their loved ones, and their caregivers choose the type of services that suit the needs of the individual, and determine ahead of time rough ideas of cost.

funeral expenses

Funeral Expenses - The Basics

Funerals and burials can be simple or expensive, ranging in cost from several hundred dollars to over $15,000. Today, burials may range from a simple cremation to expensive caskets, exquisite burial plots, or even entombment.

Low-cost funerals may be found for under $2,500, while many others average around $5,000. Today, many funeral homes and mortuaries offer "green" burial options. Of course, others prefer more traditional burial options, complete with hardwood casket, pre-purchased burial plots, and interment either in private or public burial estates.

Normally, individuals planning a burial may find that costs are often divided between:

  • Cash disbursements - paid out upon consent, such costs may include pallbearers, flower purchase, clergy services, obituary notices, musicians, and so forth.
  • Basic service fees - such fees cover use of the funeral home, services of funeral home attendants and directors, securing permits for burial, coordinating burial arrangements, etc..
  • Optional service charges - may include but are not limited to burial containers, use of hearse or limousines, transporting the body, embalming, viewing, cremation, and actual interment.

In many locations, caskets may range between $500 to over $10,000, depending on materials. Materials for caskets include metals such as steel, copper or bronze, and wood such as oak, maple, or cherry wood.

funeral expenses

Location, Location, Location

Determining funeral or burial costs is also determined by location. For example, burial vaults may cost up to $10,000, while concrete grave liners may cost up to $400. Consumers should be aware that some cemeteries require individuals to buy burial vaults or liners to help reduce long-term maintenance costs.

Green burials are becoming more common, offering biodegradable caskets, shrouds or even a favorite blanket wrapped around the deceased prior to burial. Biodegradable caskets are placed in natural settings and are considered earth-friendly options as opposed to traditional burials. With a green burial, individuals are not embalmed, and burial vaults or sealed caskets are not required by law, but may be required at some traditional memorial parks.

A green burial, depending on location, averages around $2,000. Cremation costs an average of $700 to $1,000. Discuss costs of green burial or cremation with local funeral or mortuary service providers to determine options in given areas as well as regulations, requirements, and limitations.

Cost for cremation may also rise depending on services required, including cremation services, cremation urns, or cremation extras such as memorial tribute videos, services, and scattering options.

Preparing for the Future

Some seniors may wish to pre-purchase caskets or urns. Caskets may be placed in storage, and urns can be stored in closet space.

Determine whether or not the senior wants flowers, or music, a wake, viewing, or other traditional funeral options.

In some communities, burial plots maybe pre-purchased, but only if the senior is not planning on making any moves in the future.

Burial plots may range from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on location. Seniors may also choose headstones or markers in advance, even write their own epitaphs. Grave markers and perpetual care of grave sites may be arranged in advance, but again, only if the senior is not planning on any move in the future.

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