How much do final expenses cost?

Final expenses are the expenses your family pays for your burial or cremation, and for other things you might want at that time, like a gathering to celebrate your life. Although thinking about final expenses can be hard, knowing what they cost and making sure you have a life insurance policy big enough to cover them can help spare your family an expense they might not be able to afford.

What costs more, burial or cremation?

The amount of your final expenses depends on several things, including where you live in the United States and what kind of final arrangements you want. One of the biggest factors can be whether you want a burial or cremation. In 2015, 45.2 percent of families chose burial. A slightly higher percentage of families, 47.9 percent, chose cremation. It’s estimated that by 2035 more than three-quarters of families will choose cremation.

One reason cremation is becoming more popular is that can be less expensive than burial. All totaled, a funeral and burial may cost your family more than $10,000. In comparison, a funeral and cremation may be just over $6,000.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NDFA), “the national median cost [the amount at which half the figures fall below and half are above] of a funeral with viewing and burial for calendar year 2016 was $7,360. If a vault is included, something that is typically required by a cemetery, the median cost is $8,508.” You may have additional cemetery, monument or marker costs and charges for things like flowers or an obituary.

Here’s the NFDA’s breakdown of burial-related costs in 2017:

  • Basic services fee: $2,100
  • Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home: $325
  • Embalming and other preparations of the body (if there is a viewing) $975
  • Facility rental and staffing for viewing and funeral ceremony: $925
  • Hearse: $325
  • Service transportation: $150
  • Printing for services: $160
  • Metal casket: $2,400
  • SUBTOTAL: $7,360

According to the NFDA “the national median cost [the number at which half of the figures fall below and half are above] of a funeral with viewing and cremation in 2017 was $6,260.”

Here’s the NFDA’s breakdown of cremation-related costs in 2017:

  • Basic services fee: $2,100
  • Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home: $325
  • Embalming and other preparations of the body (if there is a viewing) $975
  • Facility rental and staffing for viewing and funeral ceremony: $925
  • Service transportation: $150
  • Printing for services: $160
  • Cremation fee (if firm uses a third-party crematory): $350
  • Cremation casket: $1,000
  • Urn: $275
  • TOTAL: $6,260

Additional final expenses besides the burial, cremation and funeral

The totals above represent the basic needs for final arrangements. Depending on what your or your family want, things like burial plots, grave markers or headstones, and caskets can increase the price. There may also be expenses in addition to the ones specifically for burial or cremation. They might include:

  • Covering the cost of travel for family and loved ones so they can attend a service
  • Catered meals and other expenses for a celebration of your life after the service
  • Purchase of special outfits for the service

Finding a final expense insurance policy

Once you have a good idea what your final expenses will be, you can help prepare for them with an insurance policy. That way, your family won’t be weighed down with the expenses. Many of the best term life insurance policies also offer burial insurance or final expense insurance. That coverage can be added to your existing policy (what’s known as a “rider”). Or you can purchase a burial insurance policy separate from your main policy.

If you’re interested in a life insurance policy that does not require a physical exam, this easy-to-use comparison tool may help you find which policy is right for you.


How to learn more about life insurance

Life insurance may seem complicated, but it’s not that hard once you know the basics. Of course, we are happy to help. You can also use the TruStage Life Insurance Calculator to compare different types of insurance and learn more about your options.


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