It’s something most people don’t think about until it’s upon them. As a licensed insurance agent, I regularly work with clients to help them prepare for the costs associated with “final expenses”. But with the recent loss of a family member, these funeral costs hit close to home. I felt I had traded places and was now on the other side of the table from where I normally sat helping others prepare. After my family and I heard and saw all of the choices, we were left to make some decisions that were difficult. What I can relay to you the reader is that the statistics frequently “preached” about funerals and the related costs are mostly accurate, and possibly conservative. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the median (roughly average) cost in 2016 for a funeral, with a viewing and burial, was $8508. And that did not include cemetery fees, grave marker/headstone, flowers or obituary costs. My family member’s obit in the daily newspaper cost $400 alone, for one day! And these costs can be higher in larger metro areas. With a nice casket, vault and headstone marker, the total bill for a funeral and related costs can easily hit $15,000 or more. This still doesn’t include food for guests, hiring a police escort for a funeral procession or any other ceremonial extras. Cremations are less costly, though. The NFDA says that the average cost of a funeral with viewing and cremation in 2016 was about $6,000. A cremation alone, without any service or extras, is around $2,000. There are ways to avoid spending $10,000 or more for a funeral, as long as you do some research and know the preferences of the one that the planning is for. The time to do the research and planning with family members is now, when you have the time.
Written by Ken Kitchen, CLTC, for HRC Insurance Services