Funeral Costs And Cremation Cost in 2023: What No One Is Talking About

Written by Kim Wilhelm

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Last Updated 01 Mar 2024

How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

No one likes to think about money during the loss of a loved one, but funeral and cremation costs can have a devastating impact on the family members of the deceased.

In the United States, the average cost of a funeral can vary widely by state and type of service. According to the 2021 National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the median cost of a funeral with burial, burial casket, and viewing is $8,805.

The average cremation cost (including a viewing or funeral service) can be as high as $6,515 according to the National Funeral Directors Association.  Even direct cremation costs, which often take place without a formal funeral or memorial service, are expensive. The average direct cremation cost is around $2,400.

These figures do not consider items like marker costs, flowers, a cremation casket, or cemetery costs for families who choose to bury the cremated remains of their loved ones.

Since the 1980s, traditional funeral service costs have steadily risen, and those who do not pre-plan funeral expenses could pay more than intended.

By being aware of the average cost of funeral expenses and planning ahead, you can decide the non-negotiables, what you would like to have, and what you may not want or need. A few hundred dollars paid over several years on final expense insurance can buy complete peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

By investing today, you can rest assured that your funeral ceremony, memorial service, cremation or burial cost, and other expenses will be taken care of, alleviating the financial burden on your family. 


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How Much Does Cremation Cost?

Many people choose cremation under the impression that the cost of cremation is far lower than a burial. While choosing cremation does lower your bill, it is still expensive. So how much does cremation cost?

The average cost of cremation with a viewing and service in 2023 is around $3,250. A direct cremation without a cremation service will only be marginally cheaper, and only includes the cost of the actual cremation.

Our data shows that the median cost of cremation has increased by almost 15% in just one year. Our 2021 data shows cremation costs have increased to $2,195, whereas 2020 data from Obitia shows the average cremation cost in the U.S. is $2,050. Including a viewing, the average cremation is $2,476; with service, cremation averages $2,823.

For a full cremation with viewing and service, the average cost is $3,250. The average costs for embalming ($683), hearse ($318), and casket ($1,244) are the same as for a burial funeral. 

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Cost of Cremation Urns and Caskets

Cremation urns and casket costs vary widely by location, material, size, and other details.

Cost of Cremation Containers

A simple cremation urn can cost as little as $30 or as much as $1,000.

Urns come in several material options, such as:

  • Wood

  • Metal

  • Brass

  • Marble

  • Stone

When sizing a cremation container, the rule of thumb is that 1 pound of body weight equals 1 cubic inch of ashes. If you weigh 150 pounds while alive, your urn should hold around 150 cubic inches of ashes.

Alternative Cremation Options

Not everyone wants to be placed on a mantle after their death. For those who still want to be cremated but not burried in an urn, alternative cremation options are available.

Green burial uses biodegradable materials to replace the traditional urn, like cardboard, wicker, bamboo, or cork. The urn is placed in a natural burial ground, where you eventually become one with the earth.

Another natural cremation option is a burial at sea. Here, the deceased person's body or cremated remains are laid to rest in the ocean, and coral, fish, and other marine life take over. You can even be "buried" with a companion, whether a pet or a loved one.

A tree pod burial is another alternative if you prefer to stay on land. With this green burial option, you're placed in a biodegradable tree pod and buried beneath a tree. Over time, your decomposing remains degrade along with the tree pod, releasing nutrients to the tree so it can grow for years to come.

These alternatives can cost more than a cremation, especially if you choose a burial at sea and your family wants to travel to your final resting place.

Cost of Cremation Caskets

Caskets are much more expensive than cremation urns. The cost of cremation caskets can run up to $1,000 for a casket, with many people paying several thousand once all the details are settled. A simple coffin is slightly less, costing between $800 and $3,000.

Casket prices are based on the following:

  • Material

  • Color

  • Style

  • Added adornments, such as plaques or decorative handles

When you choose to be buried in a casket, you also have to factor in extra fees, like a casket vault or grave liner, which costs, on average, $1,800. 

A casket spray or flower arrangement used during the viewing can cost anywhere from $50 to $500 or more, depending on the size and flowers.

What Is a Low-Cost Cremation?

Most of us are familiar with cremation, but did you know that it can be rather expensive? Not only can cremation cost quite a lot, but funerals tend to be thousands of dollars, and end-of-life expenses can be financially draining. If you're worried about these costs, know that there are options available. Let's discuss what a low-cost cremation means.

Cremation Cost Considerations

Cremation can vary depending on the location. Various states have different average prices for cremation, meaning that where the individual lives and is cremated will greatly impact the price. Though the cremation process can be costly, it tends to be one of the cheaper methods, as it doesn't require any preparation of the body or a casket to be purchased. 

It's possible to be cremated for under $1000, though that price may change due to the location and if the crematorium has extra fees. If an urn is desired, the price can vary greatly, depending on material and quality.

No Cost Cremation

If you're concerned about the price of cremation, know that there's a way to have a body cremated for free. When a body has been donated to science, it will be cremated after use, and those ashes will be given back to the family. If you're looking for a free cremation, donating your body to science may be the best way to go.

Those who are feeling hesitant about this possibility should think about the meaning and importance behind it. Doctors receive invaluable training, and being part of that is an honor. Donating your body to science is an excellent way to continue your legacy and then be returned to your family — all within the span of a few weeks.

Finding the Best Cremation Price

If you're feeling uncomfortable with the price of the actual cremation, do some research. There are many different cremation options available, and certain companies will have different prices. Researching all the options is important in finding the best price and a company you feel comfortable with. Being able to compare prices, companies, and their processes can bring you peace of mind and assurance that you're making the right decision.

Reach Out for Help

When you think you've found the right crematorium, remember that you can always call and ask any questions you have. Price is an important factor in cremation, but many other things can come into play. Being educated and aware of the process is important when making this decision. Being able to ask questions is important, so choose a company that is open and transparent about its process and mission.

How Much Does a Funeral Service Cost with Burial?

The average funeral cost in America wass $6,980 in 2022.

An adult funeral ceremony with viewing averages $7,410, and with service is $7,910. If you choose a full funeral with traditional burial, church or graveside service, the funeral service fee, and viewing, the average funeral cost is $10,805.

These figures do not include the cost of embalming, which averages $683, or a casket, which is $1,244. If you choose a hearse to take you to the cemetery, the average cost is $318.

There also may be extra costs to transport the body, grave markers, cemetery or mausoleum costs, plus plot fees.

Who Is Legally Responsible for Funeral Costs?

The one(s) responsible for funeral payments depends on other circumstances. Payment is based on who has the ability to fund the funeral. The burden does not fall on one person each time.

This can be seen as an "if not x, then y" form of responsibility appointment. Another way to visualize this is to think of this as a flow chart rather than one definitive answer.

Legal options explored in order

The options here are only relevant if the deceased had not paid for his or her funeral in advance, or did not have have a final expense insurance policy. While this is technically not legally required, it is still to be considered. The people responsible can be the executor of the estate, close family members, or a combination of family members and government assistance.

Executor Pays Funeral Costs

An executor is chosen by the deceased in his or her will. What makes this different from other potential payment candidates is that this is purely based on the deceased individual's choice. How that money is dispersed is also unique. This money comes from an estate, not the executor's personal bank account (at least not entirely).

An estate contributes to a person's overall net worth, and a net worth consists of more than just income. In other words, all funeral costs can be covered by the total assigned value of one's assets. Assets can include (but are not limited to) physical possessions, real estate, or financial investments. All of these are assigned a cash value, and that is just one way a funeral can be paid for.

Note: According to a Penn State University study, 99 percent of all term policies never pay out a claim. Contact us to ensure that your family receives your life insurance money. 

Next of Kin Pays for the Cost of the Funeral

Not everyone has an executor, and not everyone has the luxury of an estate that could cover funeral costs. This leads us to the next of kin.

Without an executor, then it's up to the next of kin to pay. The next of kin is the closest living relative, usually the individual's spouse or children. These are the ones who may have to pay funeral expenses out-of-pocket.

What Happens When Relatives Can't Pay the Funeral Costs?

Check out our article, "What Happens if I die Without Life Insurance" for a complete look into what happens to your body when there isn't a final expense policy, and no money available from family members to pay for a funeral or cremation.

2023 Average Funeral Costs & Cremation Cost In The U.S.

Cheapest Low Cost or Low-Income Funerals

A price of $8,000 to $15,000 is daunting to many but crippling to others. Low-income individuals have a hard time arranging typical funeral services for their loved ones, as honoring their loved ones while keeping costs low is a tough task. But there are low-cost options available.

What's the Lowest Possible Funeral Cost?

The cheapest method is direct cremation. The best way to think of this is what you won't have to pay for. 

The costs you won't have to deal with include:

  • Funeral service

  • Funeral director

  • Embalming

  • Burial plot

  • Headstone

  • Opening and closing of the grave

  • Flowers

  • Casket

  • Etc.

Without the above-listed expenses, it becomes quite an easy process. The funeral home takes the deceased, cremates them, then returns the ashes to you. The cost here is dependent upon the area you live in, so it is best to contact the funeral homes near you.

The next cheapest option would be a direct burial, which is similar in concept to direct cremation. With direct burial, the major difference is that the body is placed in a simple casket and then buried. A simple casket will be substantially cheaper than a traditional one. And, like direct cremation, you don't even have to get a traditional funeral service.

How Can I Get Help?

There are multiple financial assistance options available. If your loved one had a final expense insurance policy, then you would be able to fund the funeral without worrying about the impact of extra costs.

Public aid funerals are also an option. These are state-funded. As for the exact amount covered, it varies from state to state. This is all based on your community.

Another form of government funding, such as that from Social Security Administration payments, can help with covering funeral costs as well. While this income may not be directly focused on funeral payments, it can provide relief in cases like this.

Final Expense Direct Can Help

We have policies designed to meet the needs of each individual. We work with the best companies to find you the best coverage at the lowest price. Call 1-800-217-0014 to see how we can help!

Does Social Security Pay Anything Towards Funeral Expenses?

If your loved one has recently passed away, you may be wondering about Social Security benefits for a funeral. In general, Social Security doesn't pay for cremation or funeral services, but it depends on the situation. You may be able to get a one-time lump sum death benefit — which you can use to help cover cremation, burial, or funeral costs and end-of-life expenses. As an alternative, some people are eligible for Social Security survivor's benefits.

Related: Can You Really Get Final Insurance for $9.95 Per Month?

How Much Is the Social Security Benefit?

The amount is $255. Since we already discussed the average cost of a funeral, you can see that Social Security does not do much to help cover these expenses.

Who Gets a Social Security Death Benefit?

The surviving spouse — who was living with the deceased — can collect the death benefit. Sometimes the funds may go to the surviving spouse if they didn't live together. If there's no eligible widow or widower, the benefit may go to the dependent child or children.

Conditions to Get the Social Security Death Benefit

To get a lump-sum death benefit, the survivor:

  • Must have been getting spousal benefits on the deceased's earnings record, OR

  • Must have become eligible for survivor benefits on the deceased's record.

If there's no eligible spouse or child to obtain it, no death benefit is paid.

Do Survivors Need to Apply for the Death Benefit?

When a Social Security beneficiary dies, the Social Security Administration (SSA) should be notified as soon as possible. Typically, the funeral home or the deceased person's family members inform the SSA about the death. If not, survivors will need to apply within two years of the death.

To apply, you can call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or apply online.

You might need to provide the late worker's birth and death certificates and (possibly) answer questions about the deceased's family and financial status.

Don't Confuse it with Survivor Benefits.

Remember, the death benefit is a one-time thing. This isn't the same as survivor benefits — which are ongoing payments made to the surviving spouse, ex-spouse, disabled or minor children, or, in rare cases, the deceased person's parents.

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Cost Breakdown of Funeral Services

The average funeral cost breakdown varies by state, services rendered, and extras included. Based on historic rates and future projections, the amount of Americans choosing burials is expected to decrease, and cremation rates increase, with as much as 78% choosing cremation by 2040.

Funeral Home

Funeral home fees are non-declinable, meaning they must be paid to use the funeral home, regardless of whether you choose cremation or burial services. The 2021 national median cost for a funeral home's basic service fee is $2,195.

The basic service fee may include getting permits if needed, housing the remains, facilitating arrangements, and getting copies of the death certificate. Shopping around for funeral home services may help you get a lower rate for the basic service fee in your area. You can call and get the general pricing list over the phone as required under the Funeral Rule.

Cremation Cost vs. Burial Costs

Depending on the state and services chosen, cremation vs. burial costs can differ upwards of $7,000 or more. While the cremation process can be less expensive than burials, adding on extra services can drive up the cost, like renting a casket from the funeral home, paying for flower arrangements, and having viewing and services.

Burials can easily get expensive, spending $15,000 or more when all is said and done. Flowers, headstones, transportation, caskets, and grave liners can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a burial. Shopping around for caskets, liners, and grave markers can help you save on the average cost of a funeral. For example, choosing a lesser quality wood casket can save thousands over a more expensive metal casket.

Embalming

The average cost of embalming is $750. Embalming may not be required, depending on how long it takes between someone passing away and being laid to rest or cremated. An alternative to embalming is refrigeration, though this can still cost a couple of hundred dollars in storage fees. 

Flowers

Depending on the number of arrangements and how elaborate you want them, funeral flowers can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000 or more. Sending flower arrangements is a common way for family, friends, and colleagues to express their condolences to the family, which are typically displayed during the viewing and service. While most funeral homes partner with local florists to offer packages, you may be able to save by sourcing your own arrangements directly and having them picked up or delivered to the funeral home.

Wreaths

As an alternative or in addition to floral arrangements, casket sprays or wreaths are another option. The cost varies by location, florist, size, and flowers used but can range from $100 to $1,000 or more. 

Funeral Plot

The cost of a funeral plot can vary widely by location and whether it's in a private or public cemetery. A burial plot for a casket can be up to $5,000, while a smaller plot for an urn with cremated remains may only run about half the cost. If you purchase a family, companion, or side-by-side funeral plot, you may be able to get a discount compared to buying a single plot. Purchasing a pre-owned burial plot may help you save money over buying one that was not previously owned.

There are also fees to open and close the grave, which can be as much as $3,000 or more in a private cemetery. While some cemeteries include maintenance in the fee, others require an additional monthly or annual fee to maintain the pot. 

Grave Marker or Headstone

Grave markers are flat on the ground and can cost less than $100 for a simple marker and up to $1,000 or more for an elaborate marker. Headstones, which usually stand upright at the head of the grave, can cost upwards of $5,000 or more. The material used, the size of the marker, and the inscription will determine the final cost. These may be purchased through the funeral home or cemetery, or you can shop online or elsewhere from a third-party source to save money on funeral costs.

Casket

One of the more expensive parts of the funeral costs is the casket. The cost of the casket can vary widely depending on the design, style, and material used to create it. A casket can run anywhere from $1,000 to over $10,000, with metal being one of the more expensive caskets available. 

Burial Vault/Grave Liner

If you are burying a casket in a cemetery or mausoleum, a burial vault may be required. A burial vault is a lined and sealed outer container designed to protect the casket and the body inside, offering structural integrity. Like a casket, the cost of a burial vault can vary widely across the country, costing anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

Urn

Urns cost much less than a casket and can range from $50 to several thousand, depending on material and inscription. Urns are generally made from ceramic, metal, wood, marble, or stone, but there are green urns made from biodegradable materials if you prefer a green burial. Not only are green burials more eco-friendly, but they can also be less expensive than some of the other materials mentioned.

Horse and Carriage Funeral

A horse and carriage funeral is arguably the most elegant type of funeral service possible. This style of funeral is a sophisticated and unforgettable event for everyone in attendance. With final expense insurance, this is not out of reach. You ought to be remembered the way you want to be remembered, and as one of your final decisions, you ought to have a funeral that's done just the way you want it. You may have had to compromise what you wanted throughout your life due to financial concerns, but that won't happen this time. For small premium costs, you can have a final expense policy that covers the service you want.

Call 1-800-217-0014 if you need final expense life insurance

How You Can Make This Happen

These services are locally offered, so it is best to search for available companies providing this service in your area. From there, you can make arrangements, ranging from which horse you would like to the type of carriage (open or closed) and even decor options such as the drapes on the horses. Once you complete the application process, you are well on your way to a funeral service that no one will ever forget. The horse may travel from the church to the burial site, the funeral home to the church, or the funeral home to the burial site.

One factor to keep in mind is the cost. The rate is typically hourly, and additional charges may come into effect after surpassing a certain mileage.

People Who May Be Interested

This is a ceremonious send-off to someone who was a prominent figure during his or her life. It's a common style of funeral for someone who has served in office or in the military. This has been a longstanding tradition, and time has shown that this practice transcends eras.

Veterans Funeral

Veterans go out of their way to support this country and, therefore, should get a memorial service that highlights and honors their contributions. Veterans themselves have the power to choose how their service will be conducted. That includes where the burial takes place as well. Unlike the general public, veterans can be buried in one out of 135 VA National Cemeteries.

What you should know about a Veterans Funeral beforehand

Just because someone served in the military doesn't make them an automatic candidate for a burial plot in a V.A. National Cemetery. More specifically, no V.A. benefits exist for someone who was dishonorably discharged – not the place of burial nor the V.A. financial assistance. In short, if you were dishonorably discharged, you get nothing.

The Veterans Funeral options available to you

A major part of planning a veteran's funeral is where it will take place. You can either opt for a private cemetery, or you could choose a burial site in one of the 135 VA National Cemeteries. If you choose to be buried in a National Cemetery, you may not get in the one of your choice. However, your preference is taken into consideration.

Burial in a V.A. National Cemetery offers unique services. One is the opening and closing of the grave. It's a common practice, and it is required for underground burial as well as entombment for above-ground. The veteran's grave is always cared for from that moment forward. It will always be maintained and never deteriorate into an unkempt burial site.

The veteran may also get a free headstone marker. However, this could be an additional charge if the veteran is buried in a private cemetery. To read more about what is included in Veterans Benefits for the deceased, read our article: What Benefits Are Provided by the VA.

Applying for burial in a V.A. National Cemetery

Assuming you meet the requirements of burial allowance, you can submit an application in which you provide the following:

  • Document showing your Social Security Number, birth date, and place of birth

  • Military discharge papers

  • Document showing military status, along with the history of service

Once you have done this, you can submit it and then wait until your spot in a V.A. National Cemetery is confirmed.

Other Types of Funerals

While a burial or cremation are the go-to options when people pass away, they aren't the only options available. With costs that can quickly spiral out of control, some choose to go with low-cost funerals, especially if they have low incomes and can't afford an expensive funeral process. This may mean a direct burial in an inexpensive casket without a viewing and service or a direct cremation in a simple urn.

For those who require more than a direct burial, there are many services and add-ons that can personalize the funeral experience.

Shopping for Funeral Costs

One of the best ways to save on the cost of a funeral is to shop around and compare pricing. With all the added extras available, the cost can quickly add up, and before you know it, you could be paying $10,000 or more for a funeral.

Overspending is common when arranging a funeral, especially if it's done after a loved one has passed. There are immediate decisions that must be made since time is of the essence. Your judgment may understandably be clouded because you are mourning the person's loss. Those without prior funeral planning experience can be easily overwhelmed by the choices to be made, and overzealous funeral homes and cemeteries looking to make a profit may push you into a costly decision.

When you make purchases, like furniture or new appliances for your home, do you research different brands and read reviews? Do you comparison shop between different stores, trying to find the best price? Of course, you do! Why wouldn't you do the same for a funeral, where doing a bit of legwork can save you hundreds or even thousands?

Shopping around for pricing may not immediately come to mind when thinking about funeral costs. But getting funeral quotes from different funeral homes, cemeteries, and florists may mean the difference between having the funeral you want and settling on what you can afford.

Here are a few ways you can save on funeral expenses:

  • What funeral rite do you choose? A cremation is cheaper than a burial, but if you prefer to be buried than cremated, you'll want to budget the extra cost for it. Consider these extras needed for a burial:

    • Plot cost

    • Gravesite expenses

    • Service fees

    • Coffin or vault container

    • Transportation fees (hearse, van, etc.)

    • Groundbreaking and resealing costs

  • Consider the type of service you want. Do you want to pay extra for flowers? Do you want to have a viewing and service, or just a service? Maybe you want to forgo the viewing and funeral at the home and just go straight to the cemetery. Want a grave marker? The extra costs can really add up, so consider what's important to you.

  • Do you need to pay for embalming? There is no requirement for embalming in the U.S., according to the Federal Trade Commission. Preservation is only needed to prevent the body from breaking down between death and disposal. If you choose a direct burial or cremation service, you may not have to be embalmed.

  • Consider somewhere other than the funeral home or church for a memorial service. Memorial services can happen in a private home if you want, which can lower the cost of services.

  • If you don't have a preferred place in mind for funeral events, get a few quotes to compare. Each funeral home and cemetery sets its own prices, which can vary widely, even in the same town. 

  • Shop for items to save. Caskets, liners, flowers, etc., can all be purchased from third-party vendors. They can be used by the funeral home and save you hundreds or thousands of dollars instead of buying them from the funeral home.

The Funeral Rule

To help eliminate pressure tactics by funeral homes, the Federal Trade Commission instituted the Funeral Rule. With this Funeral Rule, you have the following rights:

  • Buy only what you want. You don't have to accept a package but can instead choose separate goods and services.

  • Get pricing over the phone.

  • The funeral home must give you a General Price List, which is an itemized goods and services list you can keep.

  • View a written casket price list prior to seeing the caskets.

  • See a written price list for outer burial containers before viewing them.

  • Receive an itemized statement of services you select with prices for each and a total cost before you pay.

  • Be provided with an explanation in the written statement of any required funeral goods or services.

  • Use an alternate container, like wood, cardboard, or fiberboard, for the cremation casket instead of a traditional casket.

  • You can provide your own casket or urn, and the funeral home cannot charge a handling fee.

  • The funeral home can not require embalming in the funeral arrangements.

Can Life Insurance Help Pay for Funeral Costs?

Yes, if you have life insurance in place, the death benefit can help pay for some or all of your funeral costs. There are several types of life insurance, and they all function differently. Most Americans have term life insurance, which offers a level death benefit and payment for a certain number of years. Permanent life insurance is more expensive, but it offers a level premium and death benefit for life.

Final expense life insurance, sometimes called burial or funeral insurance, is a permanent life insurance policy specifically for funeral arrangements and medical and legal expenses. It's popular among seniors because it doesn't require a medical exam, has flexible payments, and has lower premiums than other life insurance products.

It is important to realize final expense insurance is a type of life insurance. It's often left out of the discussion, but it must be covered in order to have a perspective on traditional life insurance. 

Final expense insurance, aka burial insurance, is a "may, may not, or will" when it comes to complete funeral expense coverage. The "may not" part comes from the bare minimum death benefit of $2,000. This amount will not cover an average funeral cost, not even at the low end. Funeral costs range anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000.

The "may" part of final expense coverage comes into play when purchasing a policy with a death benefit that equals out to funeral costs. If your policy has a death benefit of $7,000 or $10,000, then it may cover the entire funeral expense – but then again, that's assuming unexpected costs won't arise.

But in the case of the highest death benefits, then it absolutely will. Keep in mind $50,000 policies do exist. This can, without a doubt, cover every possible funeral expense imaginable.

Be aware that funeral homes will try and sell you their funeral insurance, which can include pre-payed plans or even similar term or whole-life policies that Final Expense Direct sells. However, funeral homes are not life insurance companies and usually only have access to one company. 

A lot of the time, that company is a well-known name brand, but unlike cars, purses, and watches, name-brand life insurance companies only mean you are paying more, not getting anything more. Funeral insurance is usually a lot more expensive and sold to you by a funeral home director who doesn't specialize in life insurance like us. 

This is because almost EVERY person who buys life insurance for seniors has some pre-existing health conditions. This is normal, and we can still find coverage for just about everyone and even at great prices because we know which insurers will give better rates for which health condition. 

The guy at the funeral home trying to sell you funeral insurance probably doesn't have our experience and won't know where to find you the best rate for your health conditions. 

Traditional Life Insurance

Traditional life insurance policies can have death benefits that surpass final expense coverage by a huge margin. As long as you pay your premiums, some life insurance policies could have a death benefit of $500,000. While that is an extreme figure, it does illustrate the extent to which it can cover. Even with a funeral cost of $10,000, a life insurance policy like this would be enough to cover that funeral 50 times over.

So not only can a life insurance policy cover one funeral, it could theoretically cover multiple funerals. This leads to situations involving couples. Whether it's a final expense or any other form of life insurance, it would be advantageous to purchase a policy with a higher death benefit. This can work in both ways: the person who purchases a policy can list his or her spouse as a beneficiary. If the person who purchases the policy dies first, then the funeral is paid for using the death benefit. If that person's spouse dies first, then that person can borrow against his or her own policy to pay for the spouse's funeral.

Term Life Insurance Can Go Either Way

Term life insurance can be like other insurance policies in that there is a death benefit provided as long as premiums are paid. The difference, however, is that the policies are only effective for a certain period of time. This is a term. A term could be ten years. A term could be 30 years. At some point, after that period is over, that death benefit is no longer existent. Nothing will go to your loved ones. You paid your premiums only to get nothing in return. Only 2% of term policies ever pay a claim due to the term expiring or the policies lapsing.

These plans can be renewed. Just make sure you renew as soon as possible if your term expires. Unfortunately, when you renew you will be significantly older than when you first purchased the term policy, and your rates will be significantly higher than your last term. If the spouse with the policy passes away within the term, then the other spouse can receive the death benefit and then use those funds to pay the funeral costs. However – if the surviving spouse is the policyholder, then the payment will have to come from somewhere else. Term life insurance can be a disadvantage since it is not a policy one can borrow against.

Pre-Paying Funeral Costs

If you are pre-planning your funeral, you can also pre-pay your funeral costs. Pre-paying may be the best way to ensure your preferences are met when you pass away. Funeral homes and cemeteries will allow you to set up a payment plan to pre-pay your funeral expenses. If you wait until arrangements are made after death, the funeral costs will be due in full for services rendered.

The 10 Most Expensive States To Die In (For Traditional Funerals)

  1. New York: $9,000 to $15,000.

  2. California: $7,000 to $10,000.

  3. Florida: $6,000 to $9,000.

  4. Massachusetts: $7,000 to $10,000.

  5. Connecticut: The average funeral cost in Connecticut is around $8,000 to $12,000.

  6. New Jersey: The average funeral cost in New Jersey is approximately $8,000 to $12,000.

  7. Rhode Island: The average funeral cost in Rhode Island ranges from $7,000 to $10,000.

  8. Illinois: The average funeral cost in Illinois is around $7,000 to $10,000.

  9. Maryland: The average funeral cost in Maryland is approximately $7,000 to $11,000.

  10. Washington: The average funeral cost in Washington ranges from $6,000 to $9,000.

The 10 Most Expensive States To Die In (For Cremation Services)

  1. Minnesota: $3,827.12

  2. Iowa: $3,420.65

  3. Rhode Island: $3,364.58

  4. Connecticut: $3,330.20

  5. Massachusetts: $3,309.26

  6. Wisconsin: $3,157.14

  7. Washington, D.C.: $3,130.42

  8. Maryland: $3,125.08

  9. Delaware: $3,121.29

  10. Vermont: $3,099.51

2023 Average Funeral Costs By State

Are Funeral Expenses Tax Deductible?

According to the IRS, funeral expenses are not tax deductible, unfortunately. An estate may qualify for a tax deduction of funeral costs, but you should check with a tax professional to be sure.

Does Medicare or Health Insurance Cover Funeral Costs?

Funeral costs are not considered medical expenses, so they are not covered by Medicare

Funerals can be expensive, so you may be wondering if your health insurance or Medicare can cover some of the costs. In most cases, funerals are not covered by health insurance policies. The families of the deceased will need to shoulder any costs incurred. Purchasing final expense insurance is an excellent way to help with those costs and take some of the financial burdens away.

Call 1-800-217-0014 if you want to protect your family in the event of your death.

Related Reading: Medicare vs. Medicaid—What's the difference?

Medicare's Death Benefit

Medicare does provide a death benefit in some cases. However, this money is not intended to go toward funeral costs and is recommended to cover any medical bills that were not previously paid. Medicare's death benefit will not cover the full sum of the medical bills, typically covering 80%.

Getting Medicare's death benefit requires a few things. Paperwork will need to be filled out, and you must prove that the individual was eligible to receive a death benefit. Medicare has laid out a list of qualifications that must be met, most of them depending on the family that has survived the deceased.

The death benefit that Medicare provides is not intended for funeral costs. Some Medicare Advantage plans allow the beneficiary to allot an amount of money for their funeral costs, but that's not a guaranteed part of Medicare.

About Health Insurance

Health insurance exists to cover medical costs, which a funeral is not. This is why health insurance policies do not typically include provisions for funeral costs. If you want to enroll in insurance that could cover the costs of a funeral, consider purchasing a final expense policy.

How Much Does a Baby or Child's Funeral Generally Cost?

Though the casket or basic urn may be smaller, overall, the cost of a baby or child's funeral will be similar to an adult's funeral costs.

Who is Legally Responsible for Funeral Costs?

It depends on if there is a will or estate plan prepared. If so, then the executor should plan and pay for the funeral. If not, then the next of kin would be legally responsible for funeral costs.

What are the Cheapest Funeral Costs?

This will depend on many factors, but the cheapest funeral costs are likely getting copies of the death certificates, placing the obituary, and getting pamphlets and prayer cards printed for the service.

Does Final Expense Insurance Cover Funeral Shipping Costs?

Yes, the death benefit from final expense insurance is commonly used to cover shipping costs. To ship a body for the funeral, the cost can be around $1,500 or more, depending on location. If you die overseas and need to be shipped back home, the costs will be higher. If you die during a natural disaster, you may be able to get financial assistance from FEMA. In some cases, if your loved one passes away while working on a business trip, the company's business insurance may cover the funeral shipping costs. 

Why is funeral shipping necessary?

Death can happen anywhere. For some, death occurs far from their hometown. This can be states away, or it could be across the world. But your family does not live there, and the likelihood of them being able to attend the funeral in that other city, state, or country is low. Having a funeral far from your hometown is done under the assumption that your family can afford the travel expenses, and if they are able to make it, they will do so without encountering flight delays or car trouble.

Without funeral shipping, money that would otherwise go to your beneficiaries would now go toward their travel expenses, which would potentially force them to shoulder funeral costs out-of-pocket. That's especially the case if you opt for a policy with a small death benefit.

This is where funeral shipping comes in. The costs may tack on an extra $1,500 (minimum) onto the overall funeral expenses, but it's much more cost-effective than the alternative of buying airline tickets for everyone in your family.

How does shipping work?

The first step in transporting the deceased is contacting the funeral home in your city. Ask them to contact a shipping service, specifically one designated as a "known shipper" by the TSA. They are the ones who have to speak to the company shipping the deceased.

Once shipping has been arranged, the deceased person will be placed in a specialized container, which is then placed in the plane's cargo hold. This container has its own cost, which varies depending on a number of factors. The overall funeral shipping cost is also influenced by travel distance, the weight of the deceased, and the method of travel. Some states may require embalming and refrigeration before the deceased can be shipped. That is another variable when it comes to how much you will need to pay. This entire process could be as little as $1,500. But, if you're making an international shipment, then you may have to pay upwards of $15,000.

Final Expense Insurance's Role

How much the final expense insurance will cover depends on your policy's death benefit and the funeral shipping costs specific to you. If your death benefit is small and your funeral shipping costs are more expensive, then the final expense policy may cover just a small portion. If your final expense policy has a large death benefit, then complete coverage is more likely.

Because of variability, the best way to compare is to look at them with respect to where they fall within their own spectrums.

One way to see this is to think of how the extreme ends relate. If you were to take a final expense policy with the smallest death benefit, and your funeral shipping costs were at the low end (roughly $1,500), then you get 100% of those costs covered. Insurance companies typically sell policies with a death benefit of no lower than $2,000. With the cheapest of both worlds, the costs are easily covered.

The same holds true when looking at the other side of the extreme. As mentioned before, $15,000 is on the high end for funeral shipping. That's especially the case if you require international transport. But on the other side of the coin, the highest death benefit a final expense insurance policy usually offers is $50,000. A policy of this caliber would cover funeral shipping with $35,000 to spare. Keep in mind that if you have pets, like a cat, dog, or even a crested gecko, you want to consider providing for their care, too. 

Dollar for dollar, final expense death benefits overlap funeral shipping costs by a considerable margin.

Call us today at 1-800-217-0014 if you'd like to receive a free quote.

How Can I Raise Money to Cover a Funeral?

If you can't afford a funeral, you can raise money to cover it. Consider doing a fundraiser, bake sale, yard sale, asking the church for help, or setting up a GoFundMe.

What If I'm Paying Too Much For Funeral Expenses?

The only way to know if you are paying too much for funeral expenses is to shop around for prices for different goods and services. Costs can vary, even in the same area, so getting a general price list for each can help you compare to know if you are paying too much for funeral expenses.

Call 1-800-217-0014 to get a fair quote!

Conclusion

No one likes to think about passing away, but it's important to be realistic about what a funeral will cost as these expenses can place a significant burden on our loved ones. Thankfully, you can alleviate the burden of funeral costs by spending just a few dollars every month on final expense insurance that will cover the cost of your burial or cremation when you pass away. Get in touch with Final Expense Direct for more information. We work with several of the best insurance companies in the US, and provide you with a plan that fits your needs. 

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