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The Costs of Funeral Plans and Cemetery Arrangements and How to Manage Them

It can be difficult to talk about, but pre-planning final arrangements is also one of the best things you can do for your family.

Like other major life plans such as weddings and retirements, final arrangements come with a cost. And like those other milestones, planning ahead comes with many benefits.

By planning your funeral and cemetery arrangements in advance, you can avoid financial tension and hasty decision making by survivors.

Considering the Expenses of Funerals and Cemeteries

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has calculated the median cost of a funeral to be roughly $7,181. This is a combined cost with viewing and burial, including funeral home's basic service fee, embalming and casket.

There are smaller costs to consider as well.

The median cost of transferring a body to a funeral home, for instance, is $310. Other transportation considerations like the hearse and service car can add up to $450. The median cost of memory cards and other print pieces was $155 in 2014, according to the NFDA.

Managing the Costs

In addition to making your final wishes known, pre-planning may also include pre-paying to help ease the financial burden on survivors. You can often lock in current pricing as well, protecting yourself and your family from costs that rise over time.

Funerals take place within a limited and emotionally difficult time, so it is important to avoid higher-cost funeral expenses and consider any cost-saving in advance. The Federal Trade Commission recommends:

  • Shopping around. Compare prices from at least two funeral homes and remember that you can supply your own casket or urn. You can even purchase caskets online.
  • Asking for a price list. The law requires funeral homes to give you written General Pricing Lists (GPLs) for products and services.
  • Resisting pressure to buy goods and services you don't really want or need.
  • Avoiding emotional overspending. It's not necessary to have the fanciest casket or the most elaborate funeral to properly honor a loved one.
  • Applying the same shopping techniques you use for other major purchases. You can cut costs by limiting the viewing to one day or one hour before the funeral, by dressing your loved one in a favorite outfit instead of costly burial clothing or even choosing direct burial service as opposed to the wake.
  • Recognizing your rights. Laws regarding funerals and burials vary from state to state. For example, embalming is not always required, including in New York State, unless the body will be viewed publically. This can save hundreds when you consider a "green" funeral, a rising trend that pares burial down to the bare minimum.

Pre-Planning and Pre-Paying Funeral and Cemetery Arrangements

You can take care of all of these decisions as well as financing options with pre-planning.

Cemeteries are a great place to start the process as location and burial and/or cremation expenses are two of the most important aspects of pre-planning.

Pre-planning puts yourself or a loved one in full control of how they will be remembered and essentially eliminates the gray areas that can cause tension. They get assurance that sound and unhurried decisions will be made by their survivors. They also have the option to save money.

The best choice you can make today is to begin the pre-planning process.