Why Does a Funeral Cost What it Costs?
The average cost of a funeral in the United States is an estimated $7,500, not including costs associated with the cemetery and the actual burial or disposal of the remains. While this number seems high to anyone seeing it for the first time, funeral costs have been on a steady incline for decades, raising at a higher rate than the economy, but a much lower rate than the average cost of a wedding (which sits at an overwhelming $28,000).
And just like weddings, the actual amount you will pay depends on what type of ceremony and burial arrangements you choose. Things like advance funeral planning and funeral insurance can also help defray costs, especially if you’ve had years in which to begin the planning process.
If you’re facing funeral planning, and you’d like to know where the money goes, you might want to consider all the steps involved:
The funeral director. Although you aren’t required by law to have a funeral director, this is the individual who will oversee everything from the transport of the body to getting the obituary placed in the local newspaper. Most funeral directors are licensed and fully trained to help you move through the steps of funeral arrangements without feeling overwhelmed or forgetting an integral step in the process.
Body preparation. From transporting the body to embalming it and getting it ready for viewing, there is quite a bit of work that has to go into even the most basic burial arrangements. Even cremations, which are generally less costly overall, require some advance preparation as well as the actual process. In addition to mortician costs associated with all of this, there are considerations of supplies and legal restrictions, as well. For example, if you are moving a body over state (or even country) borders, you can expect even higher costs.
Casket and other supplies. Caskets, urns, burial vaults, headstone markers, and other burial materials make up a fairly large portion of funeral costs. This is also one of the areas where you can spend or save most of your budget. From intricate and ornate to basic and functional, there are options to suit every family.
Visitations and other memorial services. When you choose to have a body viewing or memorial service prior to burial, you are most likely going to need a funeral home with ample space to hold all the mourners. This entire process may require renting out a room, setting up audio/visual effects for the service, hiring a clergy member to oversee the service, providing printed materials, and setting up live or recorded music.
Transportation to the cemetery. If you are planning a formal burial, you will need to transport the body to its final resting space. This may include hiring a hearse, setting up a procession, or even renting funeral cars or limos for the immediate family.
Burial costs. Most cemeteries have their own prices and steps for the interment of the body. Not only do you need to purchase a plot (for burial or for the placement of cremains), but you may want to set up an additional on-site ceremony. There are also the costs associated with the cemetery opening and closing the grave.
Additional supplies. Flowers, the obituary, death certificates, printed materials, memorial websites, and any other details you choose to include in the funeral all add even more to the overall funeral costs. Any other personalized steps you take will also need to be included.
Funeral planning isn’t easy – from both a financial and an emotional standpoint. There are so many small steps required to keep things running smoothly that eliminating or skipping over even one can put a kink in the entire process. Although paying for a funeral is the last thing you want to be worrying about, it is necessary. Fortunately, funeral planning can help you cover many of these issues before death even becomes an issue, and you can ease the transition for only a little extra work today.
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By Amy Johnson