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How to Pay for My Funeral

Paying for the funeral of a loved one in the U.S. is expensive. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the price of one with burial is $7,848, while the median cost of a funeral with cremation is $6,970. Most funeral homes also require payment upfront, so families often must pay that hefty sum during a very emotional time.

Investopedia’s recent article entitled “How to Pay for a Funeral” cautions that these expenses don’t have to drain your family’s resources. There are instead ways to ensure that you are paying only for what you want and to find monetary assistance if needed.

Knowing which costs are required and which are optional can keep you and your loved ones from overpaying for a loved one’s burial or cremation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Funeral Rule. It’s designed to help you select the goods and services you want or need and to pay only for the ones you choose, regardless of whether you are planning ahead or making arrangements when a death occurs.

Funeral costs start with a basic service fee that funeral providers can charge all customers. This basic service fee covers the following elements of the funeral:

  • Funeral planning
  • Preparing funeral notices
  • Obtaining permits and death certificates
  • Caring for the decedent’s remains; and
  • Arrangements for burial, cremation, or handing off to third parties.

Some other services are considered optional for a funeral and aren’t covered in the basic service fee. They include:

  • Embalming or other remains preparation;
  • Arranging a viewing at the funeral home;
  • The ceremony or memorial service at the funeral home;
  • Providing staff and equipment for a graveside service;
  • Transporting the remains and providing a hearse or limousine;
  • A casket, outer burial container, or alternate container such as an urn; and
  • Cremation or interment.

Funeral providers also charge fees known as cash advances to cover services from other vendors that the funeral provider handles on your behalf. These include pallbearers, officiant, musicians and singers, obituary notices and flowers.

Wills, trusts, and estate planning for everyone. To book a call in Anchorage, Alaska, please contact Mitch Wyatt at