The Complete Checklist for Planning Your Funeral

Written by Ross Quade

Many people feel the need to plan out and take care of their funeral and death expenses before they passed.  Some would even say this is part of our nature as we don’t want to inconvenience anybody else with our death. Doesn’t matter what your reason most people nowadays are wanting some say in their funeral plans.

While some people love a quick and straightforward funeral, others may want a more elaborate send-off.  It is not uncommon these days for people to plan their funeral.  Below we will give you tips and a checklist to follow if you’d like to prepare your burial.

Budget

One of the first things you will need to think about is your budget.  In the United States, the average funeral costs $7,000-$10,000.  This is for a very average funeral, and some of the more high-end funerals can cost upwards of $20,000 depending on how elaborate you want to go.

It’s a good idea to start with the basics and decide if you want to add anything or take away anything.  Here are the basics to most funerals:

Service – You will need a location and someone to handle the service.  The more basic, the cheaper but you can expect this to range from $800-$2,000.

Casket or Urn – Caskets prices can range drastically.  You may be able to find one at a very affordable price, but on average you can expect to pay a little more than $2,000.  If you get cremated there will be the cremation fees which run around $1,000 and then the price of the urn.  Urns can range from $75-$1,000, but the average price is right around $200.

Embalmment – Sometimes this isn’t included and is offered as an extra cost from the funeral home.  Expect to pay from $400-$800 for embalming.

Burial Plot – Do your homework here. Not all cemeteries have the same prices, and in some areas, there can be a drastic difference.  The costs can range from $2,000 to $5,000.

Headstone – Headstone can have a vast range of price.  If you only need a basic headstone that gets embedded into the ground, they usually cost between $300-$500 however, if you want a more massive headstone that stands tall those run considerably more and you can expect to pay between $1,000-$5,000 for one.

Type of Service

Once you have the basics nailed down, you can decide what kind of service you’d like.  For many, this may depend on their religious beliefs.  Some of the more popular options are viewing and a funeral service.

Night Before Viewing – If you have a viewing which usually takes place the night before this will cost you extra but is worked into the total cost of the funeral home.  Most funeral homes offer this service as part of their packages.

Church – Then comes the funeral itself.  Will there be a church service to go along with the funeral?  If so you may have to pay a donation to the church for their services.  The recommended amount to donate to a church is $75-$300.

Transportation Costs – There will be transportation costs you will need to consider here.  The cost of getting the Hurst from the funeral home to the church. And then from the church to the cemetery.  These are worked into the package of the funeral home, but it is good to know.  If you don’t need this, then you can generally negotiate down a lower price.

Flowers – You may want to have additional flowers for the church or at the cemetery.  Flower prices can vary so much depending on what you need.  For example, if you take the price of the flowers for a casket they can range from $250-$750.

Life or Burial Insurance

Now that you have an idea of how much your funeral will cost it’s time to figure out how you will pay for it.  If you have a life insurance policy that may indeed help.  Some people opt for burial insurance which is also known as final expense insurance.  This is specific insurance used mostly for the funeral and burial costs.

Once you determine the amount you will need you can shop for a policy.  To simplify this process, you can use our burial insurance quote engine.  This will provide you with instant quotes for all the major life insurance providers.

Pre-pay for services

Paying for funeral services in advance can be a smart thing to do.  This ensures that the money goes for exactly what you want it to go for.  Some people take comfort in knowing the checks have already been written, and their families have little to nothing to worry about.

Although we have a few words of caution for you here, there is an off chance that your funeral home could go out of business and then you could be out your money.  With funeral homes, this is very rare but still could happen.  Some people might want to put their money to better use.  In many cases, you can invest the money and have a better rate of return nut; this is something you and your loved ones will have to decide.

Document Your After Death Plans

If you do plan out your funeral be sure to document everything.  You could do this formally with a lawyer, but many people write out their wishes and keep it in a safe place.  You should consult a lawyer here and see what is best for your situation.

Who’s Speaking at the Service?

You will want to see who will want to speak at your funeral and create a list in advance at the services the church representative usually handles most of the speaking.  However, friends and family may be best to give some insights into your life.

Funeral Reception

After the services are done what will everyone do?  Usually, following most funerals, there is a reception either at someone’s house or at a local restaurant.  Receptions are good as people are still reflecting on your life and this gives them a non-formal setting to do this in.

In many cases, people will have some food catering, but it doesn’t need to be fancy.  You could order sandwiches from your local grocery store with some side dishes to accompany it.  Restaurants can be more expensive, but many times in these situations people will often pay their tabs.

Final Thoughts

Funerals can be a stressful and very emotional time for your family and friends.  If you can plan out and prearrange many of the events of the day this may be very helpful.  There is no set in stone rules so use this checklist as a guideline and do what suits you and your family best.

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Ross Quade
Ross Quade has been a licensed insurance agent since 2008. State of Texas license #1702965. He has a Bachelor Degree in Psychology from University of Minnesota and minored in Applied Economics. He has been quoted in several online publications including Huffington Post, Young Startups and various financial blogs. Ross frequently writes about issues related to the insurance and finance industry.
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