It's nothing any of us want to consider, and yet, the avoidance of the issue may end up costing our loved ones dearly. In a recent study conducted by LIMRA, it was noted that 30% of Americans don't have life insurance – a staple asset many rely on to ensure proper care during (and after) one's end of life. In addition to the inability to pay household bills and care for a family left behind, the mounting cost of funeral services can place a burden on an already grieving family.
Just what are these expenses? We break them down:

Basic Funeral Home Fees
Regardless of whether you go eco-friendly or traditional, there are some unavoidable expenses that come with the business of death. According to an infographic put together by, this includes the cost of permits and legal documents, obituaries, holding the remains and arranging for the final resting place of the body. Since every little detail has a price tag (death certificates, for example, run a minimum of $12), one can expect that these essential but basic services can total in the thousands.

The Details of Dying
Less enjoyable to think about are the actual services performed by morticians and those in the end-of-life industry. These can include transporting the remains, embalming the body and the casket or cremation process. What's interesting to note is the wide range in prices for similar services in this category: cremation, for example, without the pomp and circumstance of a farewell service can come in at under $1,000 if done directly through the cremation service. Compare it with the most costly cremations, done through a funeral home, and you can expect the bill to total $4,000 or more.

The classic burial service, casket and all, will run several times this amount. Factoring in the expense of the casket (average of $2,000), tombstone ($500 to $3,000) and plot ($4,000 or more), it could be an expense of $10,000 to $20,000 at the end of the ordeal. Everything, even the clothes the deceased wears at the viewing, has a price.

Third-Party Services
If you would like the event to have a personal and sentimental touch, there can be a bill for that, as well. Displaying a favorite variety of daffodil or having a special song played after the service will both likely be provided by a service provider outside of the funeral home's jurisdiction. While there is some wiggle room to work down the costs of such services, most grieving loved ones will not want the hassle of bargain-hunting during this difficult time, and many families will pay the asking price to have things taken care of without the drama. Most of these services will need to prepaid before the event, as well.

The Bottom Line
While some friends and families will consider no cost too high to have the memorial service they feel is appropriate, many will find the price tag of even the most modest service to be more than they can handle. To ensure the fees aren't crippling, a simple, prepaid service plan with a reputable funeral home may be ideal; life insurance or death benefit plans may also be a more practical way to keep the bill from becoming a devastating one. Check with your financial planner or financial service professional to see what your end-of-life needs are and to prevent the cost from falling on others after you're gone.

Related Articles
  1. Insurance

    Getting Life Insurance in Your 20s Pays Off

    Find out how Americans in their 20s can benefit from a well-thought-out life insurance policy, especially if they are able to build cash value for retirement.
  2. Insurance

    Using LinkedIn to Find Life Insurance Leads

    Learn how LinkedIn can help you generate leads as a life insurance agent, and understand the steps to turn your profile into a lead-generating machine.
  3. Retirement

    Why Are Annuities Important for Retirement?

    Understand how annuities work, and identify the benefits they provide for retirement, the most salient being a guaranteed income stream for life.
  4. Savings

    Become Your Own Financial Advisor

    If you have some financial know-how, you don’t have to hire someone to advise you on investments. This tutorial will help you set goals – and get started.
  5. Insurance

    How Car Insurance Companies Value Cars

    Learn the methodology used by car insurance companies to value cars, and understand why the amount they give you may not cover the cost of a similar vehicle.
  6. Retirement

    The Better Way to Save: Life Insurance or IRA?

    Sure, you can tap your permanent life insurance policy to help fund your retirement. But in most cases, an IRA is the better choice. Here's why.
  7. Insurance

    Life vs. Health Insurance: Choosing What to Buy

    When you only buy the coverage you truly need, the debate over medical insurance vs. life insurance might just be one you can avoid.
  8. Personal Finance

    Your Heirloom Jewelry: How Much Is It Worth?

    You grandma's diamonds are now yours. Whether you plan to keep them or not, you first need an honest appraisal. Here's how to get one.
  9. Insurance

    The 5 Biggest Russian Insurance Companies

    Discover the five companies that dominate the Russian insurance market, and learn a little more about their business operations and ownership.
  10. Insurance

    Life Insurance & Annuities: Sound Investments?

    There are certain scenarios in which investing in insurance is a savvy move. But expect a big chunk of your money to go toward fees.
  1. Can I borrow from my annuity to put a down payment on a house?

    You can borrow from your annuity to put a down payment on a house, but be prepared to pay an assortment of fees and penalties. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are the biggest disadvantages of annuities?

    Annuities can sound enticing when pitched by a salesperson who, not coincidentally, makes huge commissions selling them. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the risks of annuities in a recession?

    Annuities come in several forms, the two most common being fixed annuities and variable annuities. During a recession, variable ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can I determine if a longevity annuity is right for me?

    A longevity annuity may be right for an individual if, based on his current health and a family history of longevity, he ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Can your life insurance company sue you?

    A life insurance company generally cannot sue you, but it can sue your estate. The company may do this in order to recover ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How can insurance companies find out about DUIs and DWIs?

    An insurance company can find out about driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges against ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!