For obvious reasons, most people don’t want to spend much time contemplating their own funeral and burial. Consequently, people often fail to incorporate funeral planning into their estate plan. That failure to plan, however, can leave loved ones faced with a financial nightmare. As a Beverly area estate planning attorney at DeBruyckere Law Offices explains, planning ahead matters because the reality is that death is expensive.
Who Pays the Price If You Fail to Plan Ahead?
You undoubtedly prefer not to think about your own funeral. Thinking of your funeral and burial in financial terms may seem insensitive and callous; however, if you put off thinking about your own funeral, 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 grieving your loss. Moreover, the reality is that dying is expensive, meaning if you fail to plan ahead, your loved ones will ultimately pay the price – in more ways than one. Gaining a better understanding of just how expensive death is may help.
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
Can a Funeral Planning Component Help?
Including a funeral planning component in your comprehensive estate plan ensures that your loved ones don’t have to worry about financing your funeral and ensures that your wishes will be honored with regard to the details of the service and burial. One popular estate planning tool used in funeral planning is an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, or ILIT. An ILIT helps 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.
Contact a Beverly Area Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions about incorporating a funeral planning component into your overall estate plan, contact a Beverly area estate planning attorney at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.