Preparing for the Worst: How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

It’s a somber but important question to consider when doing your financial planning: what happens after you or a loved one dies? It’s the last thing anyone wants to think about, but funeral costs can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and wreak havoc on your family’s finances.

Read these quick tips on understanding funeral costs and weighing your payment options so that you and your family can be prepared.

Know How Much You Could Spend

A traditional funeral service in the U.S. can run anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000, according to the funeral home comparison website Parting. The right savings plan or insurance coverage can help you handle the expense — but be aware that the cost will depend on a number of factors.

Funeral Type Impacts Total Cost

The NFDA notes that the average cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial costs $7,181. That includes expenses like transportation of the body to the funeral home, embalming, a metal casket, and a printed memorial package.

A headstone at a grave site will cost more, and that price varies. The size, style and inscription will all impact the total amount paid, but the International Southern Cemetery Gravestones Association suggests an average cost of $1,000 to $2,000.

If you choose cremation, the NFDA says you can expect to pay $6,078. Those costs include an urn, a cremation casket, and preparation of the body. Cremation was the preferred choice for 48.5 percent of people in the United States in 2015, with 45.4 choosing burial, according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). A 2016 survey in Washington state found that direct burial—meaning burial without a ceremony of any kind—costs $561 more on average than direct cremation.

If you feel capable, you can negotiate the funeral cost. Ask the funeral home for pricing options on the types of urns or caskets, transportation to the funeral home, and the viewing.

How Can You Pay for a Funeral?

Keeping a savings account for funeral costs may sound morbid, but it’s a practical way to plan ahead for a loved one— or for yourself if you want to avoid passing that burden to a friend or family member. However, remember that if you don’t have a will of all of your assets (including that savings account), they will likely need to go through probate before becoming available to your beneficiaries. Unfortunately, this process can take some time.

A better solution may be to ensure you have the right life insurance policy. Your family can use your life insurance to pay for funeral costs, and most funeral homes take insurance as payment. Check the terms of your policy carefully to see what’s covered and how much is allocated for the cost of a funeral when you pass away.

As PolicyGenius notes, final expense insurance is a type of insurance that pays specifically for bills associated with your passing, funeral, and burial. This is compared to life insurance, which can be used more liberally. These bills could include the cost to have a religious officiant at your funeral, medical bills from a final hospital stay, and the costs of a gravestone. It’s a form of permanent life insurance that doesn’t expire.

Coping with More Than Costs

While practical considerations are a reality that families need to face, it’s not easy to do when you’re grieving a loss. Planning ahead can make the process of mourning a loved one less painful since it will leave you less to worry about as you deal with shock and grief. Through Aetna, you may have access to Everest Funeral Planning Services. Everest advisors can guide you through the process, whether you are planning ahead or have an immediate need.

Also, remember to take advantage of your Employee Assistance Program if you’re struggling with grief or dealing with stress, anxiety, or depression. You are not alone, and resources are available to help you cope.

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