Unexpected funeral costs — and how to prepare for them

Preplanning for these costs can help you lift the burden off your loved ones

When you think of what you might need to invest in for a funeral, what comes to mind? Probably a gravestone and burial plot, perhaps a casket or urn … but would you have guessed that the median cost of a 2019 funeral including a viewing and burial was $7,640, according to the National Funeral Directors Association?
It’s true. Many under-the-radar or unexpected funeral costs can arise, especially if you don’t consider preplanning your funeral or purchase enough life insurance. Study up on the typical funeral cost breakdown and six of the most unexpected funeral costs. That way, you can work with a funeral home partner to arrange Preneed Funeral insurance to take care of these expenses ahead of time.

6 common unexpected funeral costs that can add up fast

1. Obituaries

Short death notices are often free, but full obituaries complete with survivors, life stories, and memorial details generally cost $400 or so for the space required within the printed newspaper. In addition to preparing for this unexpected funeral cost ahead of time, you may want to draft your desired message before it’s needed to leave the legacy you choose.

How to write an obituary, step by step

2. Embalming

While embalming isn’t always required (depending on cremation vs. burial and timing of the burial), it can run $500 to $1,000. You could also consider refrigeration pre-service, but that also often costs at least a few hundred dollars.

3. A grave plot and vault

A burial plot isn’t just a free piece of land. Expect to invest around $2,000 for one plot. And many cemeteries require you to use a $500 to $5,000 vault to keep the remains safe from water and insects.

4. Flowers

The most common funeral packages don’t include fees for flowers, which typically cost at least $250 and up to $1,000. If you’re interested in displaying wreaths at the memorial or burial, add on $150 or so each. (If desired, you can request flowers in lieu of monetary memorial donations within the obituary to lower the cost slightly.)

5. Reception refreshments

Food and drink at the visitation and/or funeral can add up to $400 to $700, depending on where you live and the caterer or restaurant you hire. This will also vary widely based on how many people you expect to attend the ceremony.

6. A death certificate

Each copy of this will cost around $20, and many organizations require official versions, not photocopies. So do the math accordingly for the estate and family members who will need their own version.

Of course, all these figures vary based on your specific end-of-life plans. To compare the costs between burial and cremation and tabulate based on your personal circumstances, check out the funeral expenses calculator.

With all these facts and figures in mind, a savvy next step is preplanning your funeral (if you haven't already) so you can design your desired celebration of life or funeral and fund it through a Preneed Funeral insurance plan.

Preneed Funeral insurance

Preneed insurance is used to fund a funeral service agreement between you and a funeral home. You decide every element you want included in your funeral service, which includes everything from the casket or urn to transportation for the family. The funeral home partner totals the costs, and that amount is the basis for your Preneed insurance plan. You can either pay the amount in one installment or through monthly premiums. Upon your death, the funds are used to pay the funeral home for your funeral.

Find a Preneed funeral home partner in your state

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Photo credit: iStock

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