Funeral Costs

What are funeral costs?

The National Funeral Directors Association outlines four categories of charges that  comprise funeral costs:

  • The funeral director’s charges include the staff’s professional services, use of the facilities and equipment employed in a funeral and the merchandise selected including casket, vault, and, perhaps, clothing.
  • Disposition costs could be of different kinds. Earth interment requires a grave and charges for opening and closing it. Cremation costs are separate as well as urn prices, if one is selected to retain the remains.
  • Memorialization costs may include a monument or grave marker.
  • Miscellaneous expenses could include flowers, honorarium for the clergyman, newspaper notices, additional vehicles or out-of-town transportation of the body and other items, many of which involve the discretion of the family.

Bottom line price is important to some persons; others prefer a more detailed breakdown. Whatever your funeral director uses, he should be willing to expand on it for you

Recent surveys indicate “average” adult funerals are in the $5,000 to $8,000 range; especially in metropolitan areas. Want to know the major expense items? Salaries are first . . . as in most other services. Personnel, facilities and equipment must be available twenty-four hours a day to serve the public. Here is a break-down of average funeral costs expressed as percentages:

Salaries 25%
Merchandise (casket & interment receptacle) 30%
Facilities & Equipment 15%
General & Administrative 6%
Automobile 5%
Cash advances for convenience of client 10%
Profit 9%
Total 100%

Why a prearranged funeral?

Today, in order to avoid the necessity of selecting services during a period of stress, many people prefer a prearranged and, sometimes, pre-financed funeral from the funeral director of their choice.

Careful counseling with an experienced funeral director can avoid unwise planning. Details about the law protecting your trust deposit or the option of funding with life insurance can be explained by your funeral director, as well as other details. For example, a parent will sometimes name a minor child beneficiary of a life insurance policy without realizing those funds won’t be available to pay funeral expenses. That can be a problem for other family members or friends.

Then, there is the increasingly important matter of planning ahead if you or a relative may one day become a public aid recipient. This eventually happens in about 50% of instances where someone is in a nursing home. Speaking with a funeral director before such assistance is necessary can allow individuals to plan on the funeral of their choice and still be eligible for public assistance (Human Services). If one spouse is going to be confined to a nursing home, he or she can transfer up to $104,400 of assets to the healthy spouse and may then be eligible for public aid. Let your funeral director assist you or contact Duane Marsh at dmarsh@ifda.org or (217)525-2074.

What is the funeral director’s code?

Your funeral director follows a code of professional practices because it’s right for the families he or she serves. The code is suggested by his or her state and national associations.

The funeral director will explain his or her services and prices before a family selects a casket or vault. You should ask any questions you have regarding price ranges, death benefits or burial allowances which may be available through Social Security, Veterans Administration or other organizations. Your funeral director will assist you in preparing necessary forms to secure allowances or benefits. Rely on him or her as a source of information before as well as after a funeral. His or her experience will be of valuable assistance to you.

When you select your funeral service, each should be priced. The price on each selection should be clearly marked.

Having decided upon the services and the merchandise, you can expect your funeral director to provide a summary agreement for you to sign. It will clearly define and price the services you selected.

Your funeral director is to be alert to your needs. Express them to him or her and you will find him or her eager to serve you. Funerals, you see, are for the living.

Revised and updated 01/08/2008