Paying for a funeral or memorial service
Funeral prices can vary greatly depending on the type of provider you choose. According to an independent 2012 pricing study, large, multi-state providers can be up to 37 percent higher in price. On the other hand, private, local providers showed the largest price variances for similar services.
Today, the average North American traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000. This price range includes the services at the funeral home, burial in a cemetery, and the installation of a headstone, according to the National Association of Funeral Directors.
Breaking down costs
Although funeral prices vary considerably between funeral homes and geographic areas of the country, according to funeral-tips.com here is a reasonable “ballpark” estimate of the main costs that are involved:
Cost of a grave site
Cost to dig the grave
Cost of a grave liner or outer burial container
Cost of a headstone
In this example, total costs add up to around $9,000. There could be additional charges for things like placing the obituary in the newspaper and buying flowers.
Explore your options
Unless you are satisfied to work with a provider with whom you or your family is already familiar, researching at least three providers is recommended before making a decision. This can be done over the phone or in person depending on which method is most comfortable for you.
As part of your provider research, inquire about any payment plans or other funding options available. Carefully review these options with someone you trust to ensure they make sense based on your financial situation.
Covering costs with life insurance
If your loved one had life insurance, proceeds are often used to help pay for all or part of the service. You may choose to use insurance proceeds to pay the provider directly or you may be able to assign insurance benefits. With an assignment, the beneficiary of the insurance policy authorizes the insurance company to issue the assigned proceeds directly to the provider. Funeral homes typically have assignment forms available. If yours does not, check with your life insurer about the possibility of assigning benefits.
Some life insurance policies allow for the acceleration of death benefits while still living if the insured person's life expectancy is less than a certain period such as six or twelve months. Contact your life insurance carrier to determine what options are available.
Other sources of benefits
If you or your loved one was an active member or veteran of the Armed Services, contact the service branch or Veterans Administration about benefits to which you may be entitled.
Also consider checking with clubs, organizations or lodges to which your loved one belonged. They may offer benefits or assistance to surviving families.