Sunday, February 3, 2013

Learn How To Control High Funeral Costs

As with all financial decisions that one must make in their lifetime, high funeral costs does not have to affect the financial freedom of your remaining loved ones, if you let your wishes be known ahead of time. Once you pass on, there is a multitude of decisions that needs to be made at a very stressful time. As a matter of fact, this critical time has been described as the perfect storm for high expenses: 1) your family is faced with a significant expense, 2) it comes at a time when the family is under a lot of stress and most vulnerable, 3) price shopping can be very daunting, especially when the limited time factor is introduced.

When all the pieces of the puzzle are put together, the average cost of a funeral in 2013 is about $10,000.00. This breaks down into three main categories: 1) funeral home fees of $6,000.00, 2) cemetery fees of $2,000.00, 3) headstone/grave marker fees of $2,000.00. Since all three categories have a good amount of leeway, it is in your best interest to learn exactly what fees are necessary and what are not. For instance, the average funeral home fee of $6,000.00 is further broken down into 5 sub-categories: 1) casket: $2,400.00, 2) funeral director's fee: $1,600.00, 3) embalming/body preparation: $600.00, 4) viewing room rental & ceremony: $1,000.00, 5) miscellaneous fees such as use of the hearse and paperwork: $600.00. Did you know that with little exception, embalming is not mandatory in most states and therefore, it is a fee that can be eliminated.

The single largest fee that contributes to high funeral costs is the cost of the casket. There are a lot of choices in this category, but very often, you will only be presented with the choices that are in the best interest of the funeral home. Here again, you need to learn what is not necessary. For instance, if you choose a metal casket, 20 gauge is thick enough, yet you might be pressured into buying the thicker 18 gauge which will add a significant amount to high funeral costs.

You may have read that pre-paying funeral costs will lower your high funeral costs. This is not necessarily so and in fact it has contributed to so many complaints, that the Federal Trade Commission and other national organizations all recommend not to do it!

One movement that seems to be gaining traction on a national level is known as "green burials". People want to get back to the "way things were". People want to do what is right for the planet. Eliminating embalming and choosing a plain wood casket such as a pine box, are just a few of the environmental friendly ways that also double to lower your high funeral costs.

The bottom line for keeping high funeral costs down and preserving the financial freedom of your family can be summed up in one word: knowledge! Know the law in your state regarding care of the deceased. Know your rights. Don't be afraid to deal with each of the above categories on an individual basis instead of taking a package deal which will more than likely contribute to high funeral costs!