Benjamin Franklin said, “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Of course, we discuss taxes here, but we have not discussed the cost of a funeral in quite a while.
During the last couple of years, a close friend of mine lost his father. As the sole surviving immediate family member, it was his obligation to take charge of the final arrangements. Having never dealt with the matter of planning a funeral, he was very surprised to learn that the funeral business is much like any other. After being informed that the costs would be in the thousands, he was also informed that the terms were cash in advance. I guess we can not blame funeral directors for not extending credit to the family of the deceased - that might be a hard debt to collect down the road. On the other hand, I had to wonder if my own family was ready for such an event? My friend’s father was not a wealthy man, but did have investments, real estate, and bank accounts. The problem; this money was not immediately available. My friend had to spend several months working with an attorney to resolve the financial affairs of his father but the funeral, of course, needed to take place right away. So, what would you do if a loved one were to suddenly die? Do you have a source of immediate funds to pay for a funeral? Before you answer that question, you should be well aware that the average cost of a basic funeral is now $7,500.
Do You Have An Estate Plan?
Before I get into how to save money on your final expenses, I want to encourage you to take a close look at your estate plan. Even if you have a last will and testament, this will not provide immediate funds that your family will have access to. For this reason, you may want to consider establishing a bank account that lists a family member as beneficiary with a POD (payable on death) designation. This allows you to remain fully in control of this account while you are living, but also gives immediate access to your loved one upon your death. There are other means to accomplish this like the formation of a living trust. A living trust allows you to appoint a successor trustee that can have immediate access to your funds after your death as well. A service that I have recommended for years is LegalShield. As a member, you will gain unlimited access to attorneys, get your will prepared for free and updated each year, and have access to significant discounts on other legal services such as creating a living trust.
Do your loved ones know where your important papers are, such as your last will and testament, stock certificates, and deeds to real estate? Consider picking up an estate planning binder to leave an organized blueprint.
5 Ways To Save Money On A Funeral
1. Set A Budget
If you have limited financial resources, be upfront with the funeral director. Let them know how much money you have to spend and ask them to work within your financial constraints. Experts agree that you should shop for funeral services the same way you would shop for anything else as a consumer, and you can negotiate. Most people don’t comparison shop and that is one of the reasons the cost of funeral services have sky-rocketed.
2. Consider Your Options
While a traditional funeral will cost $7,500 or even as much as $10,000, there are less expensive options. A more pricey funeral will involve a viewing of the body at the funeral home for one to two days, purchase of a high priced casket, a graveside service, and a burial plot and headstone. You could end up even closer to $15,000 with all of the extras.
As an example, you may want to opt for just a graveside service and not pay the fees associated with having a separate viewing of the body at the funeral home. This small change can save you 25% or more of the cost. This is just one option that can save you money - be sure and ask about other scenarios that may be available that would also lower your costs.
3. Shop For A Casket
Another savings opportunity is to buy the casket from a local discounter or even online. Yes, I know this sounds crude, but money is money and the reality is that you can probably buy the same exact casket for 50% or less. Companies like www.casketxpress.com offer caskets at huge discounts and can get them to the funeral home in a day or even within a matter of hours. They offer some very nice options for under $1,000. Another way to save money online is to shop for your burial plot using www.gravesolutions.com which allows you to comparison shop burial plots nationwide.
4. Consider Cremation
Cremation is growing in popularity, even among Christians. The first person I knew that opted for cremation was my grandmother Bette. She was cremated and her ashes were spread over the ocean here in Florida. My uncle Terry was also cremated and his ashes were spread over his favorite hunting grounds in Virginia. Many have argued that Christians should not opt for cremation since we need to preserve our body for the resurrection on the Lord’s second coming. I am not a theologian, and will leave that for you and your pastor to resolve. I personally believe that if Christ can resurrect our bones he can also resurrect our ashes.
5. Consider a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan
Here is a link to a very good article on prepaid funeral plans Article. You don’t have to prepay for your funeral to make your plans in advance. You can put your plans in writing and make provisions for the money to be available to pay your expenses. You can even select the funeral home in advance and work out the plans with them in detail, without having to actually pay them anything. If you decide to go with a prepaid funeral plan, be very careful and be sure to do your homework - scam alert! Federal Trade Commission Information On Paying For A Funeral
Helping you make the most of God’s money!