No one expects to pass away and leave behind a young family, but sometimes that’s just what happens. And as if planning a memorial service for a loved one who left us too soon isn’t stressful enough, the services involved can get pricey — the cost of a casket, viewing in a funeral home, burial plot, vault, and other products and services can easily add up to several thousand dollars. If the unthinkable were to happen and tragedy was to strike, would your family be able to absorb the cost?
Luckily, there’s a way you can protect your family from the financial burden — and the emotional distress — of planning an unexpected memorial service. You probably expect to remain alive and well for a long time to come, but it’s never too soon to plan your memorial service. When you make your final arrangements and pay for them in advance, you can save your grieving loved ones from having to pay a huge bill in their time of need.
Don’t Leave Funeral Costs Behind
If you’ve never planned a memorial service before, you may not be aware of just how expensive they can get. The charges involved include:
- A professional service fee charged by the funeral home itself, which may cost anywhere from about $700 to about $3,000;
- The cost of the casket, which can range from $2,000 to $10,000;
- Fees for embalming, hairdressing, and makeup;
- Fees for the use of a church or chapel, if you have a religious service;
- And the cost of moving your remains, if you die far from home.
These fees don’t even include the cost of a burial plot, opening and closing the grave, and reinforcing the grave with a vault or grave liner, which is required at many memorial gardens. You’ll also need to buy a headstone, the cost of which can vary widely depending on the kind of stone you want. A small, flat grave marker costs between $250 and $600, but can be more expensive if you want a lot of engraving and design work. Upright monuments can cost as much as $10,000 or more depending on how large and elaborate they are. Of course, you’ll also pay for shipping, installation, and a temporary marker until the permanent one is installed.
With all these costs, it’s no surprise that the average funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000. It doesn’t help that when someone dies without having made arrangements in advance, surviving family members are left to find a burial plot, purchase a headstone, shop for a casket, and make all other arrangements on a tight deadline. Often, loved ones must make all of these arrangements in just one or two days — and they’re doing so while in the grip of grief and sorrow. With that kind of pressure and stress, there’s no time to shop around, and it’s not unheard of for surviving loved ones to make poor financial decisions or succumb to pressure from a funeral director to buy more expensive products and services than they can afford.
When you plan your memorial service in advance, you won’t leave loved ones scrambling to make important, expensive purchasing decisions when they’re already feeling acutely stressed. Even if you have life insurance or money in the bank, it could be weeks before your loved ones have access to those funds, and they’ll need to pay for your memorial service right away. Planning in advance also gives you the valuable opportunity to comparison shop for products and services, which can add up to thousands of dollars in savings.
Maybe you don’t have the extra cash on hand to pay for an expensive, elaborate funeral in advance, or maybe you’re not that wedded to the idea of a traditional burial anyway — or maybe both. More Americans these days choose cremation because it’s often cheaper than a traditional burial. On average, cremation costs just $3,200 — that’s not even half the cost of a traditional burial, and it’s a much more manageable sum.
If you want an affordable, simply memorial service and aren’t committed to the idea of burial, cremation may be for you. Many people choose it because they see it as the “greener” option, because it doesn’t involve embalming your remains or burying them in a casket that won’t biodegrade. Others like the idea of having their ashes scattered or of being placed in an urn where they can remain near loved ones. Still others simply dislike the idea of being buried underground.
You may not expect to pass away anytime soon, but it always pays to be prepared. When you plan your memorial service in advance and prepay, you’ll be sure to get the best deal on products and services you’ll be guaranteed to need eventually. Plus, you’ll protect your family from a whopping bill that they may struggle to pay if something happens to you. You’ll sleep easier at night knowing your final expenses will already be covered, should anything happen.