Avoiding Expensive Funerals

When planning a funeral, the expenses can add up quickly. The average funeral costs about $7,300, including the casket, embalming, and transportation, and if you include extras like flowers, obituary notices, and acknowledgement cards, the price goes even higher. However, there are several ways you can save on funeral expenses.

  • Cremation. Cremation can be cheaper than burial. For one thing, you don’t need an expensive casket if you plan on cremating. You can rent a casket for the viewing (if you have one) and then use a cardboard casket for the cremation. The cardboard casket is cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
  • Direct Burial or Cremation. If you don’t want to have a viewing, you can do direct burial or cremation, which means your loved one is promptly buried or cremated without a funeral or viewing. You could then organize your own memorial service at your home, a church, or a function hall.
  • Home Funeral. In most states, families can have home funerals. A home funeral is when the family prepares the body for burial or cremation without the help of a funeral home. Families can make their own caskets; wash and dress the body; and hold their own memorial service, wake, or viewing. For more information on home funerals, click here.
  • Shop Around. Casket prices vary considerably, and even cremation prices can vary. You need to call several funeral homes to find the best price. Ideally, you would begin shopping around before your loved one passes away, but that is not always possible. You can save money by buying a simpler casket, and resisting being talked into spending for unnecessary extras like a casket seal. You may also be able to find deals on caskets on the Internet.
  • Donate to Science. Donating a loved one’s body to science is not only a no-cost option, it also helps medical research. To donate a body, contact a local medical school. The medical school will pick up the body and use it to teach students about anatomy. Before donating, make sure you are donating to a legitimate medical school’s program, and not a for-profit company.

What about pre-paid funerals? The Funeral Consumers Alliance advises against them in nearly all cases. For more on the risks of pre-paid funerals, click here.

For more information on saving money on funerals, click here and here.

To discuss funeral planning or other Elder Law matters with an attorney, please email the Elder Law Center or call 630-844-0065. The Elder Law Center is located in Aurora, IL, Kane County, in the Chicago Western Suburbs.

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