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Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

Last post Thu, Feb 14 2013 6:28 PM by Bernie. 23 replies.
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  • Thu, Feb 10 2011 8:49 AM

    • Candyi
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Aug 31 2009
    • Posts 33

    Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

     Dear Friends,

    As I write this my husband is battling stage 4 cancer - not to go into too much detail but he seems to be deteriorating fast, waiting for the latest CAT scan results, but I know am going to be handling his funeral  sooner rather than later and I am at a loss as to what to do.  I do not want to go to the funeral parlor, not yet, so I am asking those that have had to deal with this  to share their experiences.  How much normally for a regular funeral parlor visitation for one day, two viewings and a church service? How about a burial plot.  I am fairly new in the area and unfortunately the people I've gotten to know have not had the experience.  I guess we would buy a plot for two so I can join him, but I also have my mother living with me (she is now 88) would it be cheaper to buy a plot for three?How much would this cost???  I am so upset I cannot believe that my husband of 34 years will be gone soon.  It is a difficult subject, but an important one.  I do not want to be taken to the cleaners by a funeral director so I want to have a sort of 'budget' in mind.  My hubby has life insurance $20,000 from his previous employer and another $20,000 policy - Will the funeral parlor wait for the policies to be paid? How do I go about letting the insurance companies know?  I would appreciate your sharing. BTW, we live in a suburb in NY about 30 miles north from NYC.

  • Thu, Feb 10 2011 9:12 AM In reply to

    Re: Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

     Around here we have budget funeral places that can be as low as $3000.  I would say the average is more in the $8000-10000 range.

    The church is usually separate than the funeral home fee.  If you are a member, it may only be personnel fees.  As a musician I make in the $20-50 range depending upon what I do.  The pastor $50-100.  Some churches have prearranged fees, some operate on gratuity.  Call the church office or check out their website (some have fees on there some don't).

    Your best bet will be to check with places in your area.  They will understand that you are not ready that and should be professional with you.

    You teach people how to treat you -- Dr Phil
  • Thu, Feb 10 2011 9:17 AM In reply to

    Re: Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

    You should be able to get a price sheet from funeral homes.  I just saw one the other day from our local one.  My grandmother died six years ago & it was around $6,000 total for all services.  You can make it more or less depending on everything you decide to do.  This funeral home also owns a cemetary so you can buy the plots from them in your package.

    DH has already told me he just wants to be viewed by close family & buried.  Afterrward, go to church & have a celebration of life service.  That will cut out some of the expenses such as flowers, more time using the chapel, etc. We don't have plots yet (or even a will--I know that's bad) so that will be an added expense.

    As far as life insurance & the funeral home, I know the funeral home gives you copy of the death certificate & you send those to life insurance, Social Security office, etc.  I would think the funeral home would wait for the life insurance to pay their part before asking you for payment, but I don't know that for sure.

    I'll be thinking of you during this difficult time.

  • Thu, Feb 10 2011 9:18 AM In reply to

    Re: Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

    Mom died on Christmas Day 2010. I had to plan and pay for her funeral. If I had it to do over, I would've gone with a different funeral home. My funeral director did not offer to pick me up to make the arrangements (I'm physically challenged & walk with a cane and we'd had 14 inches of snow----a blizzard, actually---) and driving was a real challenge. If I'd used the other funeral home, they would've picked me up and taken me home. Also, the funeral home I used did not provide me with a chair so I could sit down at the grave site.

    I already had a plot at our church so I didn't have that expense. There is an expense if the funeral home provides a limo. There is an expense if you use the funeral home for visitation. There is an expense for the actual funeral (the body). There is an expense for digging the grave & closing it. There is a huge expense if you write and use an obituary as most newspapers charge $$$. Flowers can be expensive.

    I cannot give you the exact amounts of dollars as I have given those papers to my CPA. Another expense is something for you to wear to the services; you will definitely need new stockings even if you already have suitable clothes.

    It is a good idea to give money (fee) to the minister for his services. I believe that I gave $100.00 to my minister.

    Mom was cremated which is less expensiuve than the usual funeral.

    I can tell you that Certified Death Certificates cost $12.00 each in Virginia. You will need copies of these to settle up funeral expenses and estate bills.

    Hospice and a Grief Counselor can help you to find the answers to your questions. They also provide grief support which will help you deal with things.

  • Thu, Feb 10 2011 10:26 AM In reply to

    Re: Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

    I'm so sorry about your husband and his cancer. My mother passed 2 years ago from breast cancer and she and dad had no plans in place. The total cost was about $12,000 and that included a lunch after the funeral for 250 people so you can see where expenses add up. But it was what dad wanted for mom's funeral. He also had to buy a double plot as they did not have one purchased which was quite a bit as I understand.

    Mom's insurance money came quickly after a copy of the death certificate was sent. That said, our funeral home paid for everything and then billed out the entire amount. So dad wasn't paying multiple bills for the florist, the church, pastor, music, lunch, anythign with the funeral home, cemetary, death certificates, etc. It was all taken care of by the funeral home which was a blessing. The funeral home also discreetly inquired about setting up a payment plan versus one billing. My dad said since mom had a small insurance policy ($20,000), he wanted one bill and would pay in full.

    You can certainly call a funeral home and visit with someone. After your husband passes, bless his soul, it will be a difficult time. It may be better to get some information ahead of time. We spent the entire afternoon after mom passed in the funeral director's office making these decisions. It would have been hard either way but at that point, I had been up about 24 hours straight and was emotionally and physically exhausted.

  • Thu, Feb 10 2011 10:36 AM In reply to

    • babs
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Apr 2 2007
    • Vermont
    • Posts 10,988

    Re: Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

    I am in S.Vermont. I cheap funeral here is around $7,000. Funeral homes will try to sell you their most expense casket. Dont let them take all of your money. There is a fee for everything. Churchs are normally cheaper for visiting hours, and funerals than the funeral home. Private owned are normally cheaper than the big coporate owned funeral homes. I would check with all of them now, get prices, ask about their policies concerning payment. News papers obits can cost a lot too. Check with them. You need to plan ahead, it is just to hard in the middle of a crisis. Creamation is a lot cheaper. Many families are doing that as a cheaper choice. Not everyone believes that creamation is OK. It is a personal choice. Ministers fees vary too. My DH is a pastor and he never charges a fee. If the family wants to give him something, then he accepts it. I would contact your church and discuss with the pastor. They will know which funeral homes are  the best to work with you.

    So sorry for your DH sickness, you have a lot to deal with  caring for him and your Mom. You will be in my prayers for strength and peace. Babs

    Officially recognized Stretchpert in Prayer Circle
  • Thu, Feb 10 2011 11:10 AM In reply to

    • ArielDawn
    • Top 150 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Jun 26 2008
    • Connecticut
    • Posts 560

    Re: Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

    Just a thought on the burial plot - did your husband serve in the military?  I know many towns offer plots with headstones to veterans and spouses free of charge. 

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Thu, Feb 10 2011 12:30 PM In reply to

    Re: Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

    How lovingly brave you are!

    There are many variables that you seem to have time to consider.  Make lists of everything!  From how many will be able to attend whatever you finally decide to provide~to the distance they will be coming.

    When making a purchase of any kind, keep your financial situation private and always inquire about the least expensive, and then work up, if you feel that is warranted.  You've gotten wonderful advice above.

    As for emotional?  Right now listen to everything your husband wants to say.  If possible, let him lead all conversations ~ and always let him know of your love, admiration and respect.  His moods will change like the weather ~ hold on tight and let him show anger, if that is what he is feeling!  Always return to your love, admiration and respect for him!!!!  Should he "ramble" (because of pain), following his thought process and contribute to his thoughts!!!  He is the boss right now, and you must let him voice all his concerns and answer as honestly as possible! 

    For private times with your mother, ask her honest advice and simultaneously decide for yourself if what she is sharing is what she wants for herself!  Include her in everything, because at her age (88), she is probably very scared for you, your husband and for herself!  Love and understanding go a long way to ward off fear ~ and let your tears flow, if they are there!  If another finds the tears upsetting, tell them that their not tears of sorrow, but tears of JOY for the good memories you have all created.  Not all of us are "Jackie Kennedy"! 

    And, don't be afraid.  If you are with him for his new journey up ahead, remain for a few moments or more ~ because your bravery will help you to a more emotionally healthy world of your own. 

    Whatever happens ~ nothing is WRONG!  Believe in him and believe in yourself...and show love every chance you get!  A quick kiss on the cheek, a pat on the hand (even if he appears asleep) and if physically able a sincere hug with kisses! 

    If you want/need more positive encouragement, I'll be around as will others here....

    Love, JustMe



  • Thu, Feb 10 2011 2:17 PM In reply to

    Re: Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

    Maybe see if any of the funeral homes near you have a website that you can go to get answers to some of your questions.  I think in the long run though, you are going to have to pick up the phone and call places or arrange a visit to get the answers.  You are very courageous in tackling this yourself and I am sending you hugs and warm thoughts.  Sally

  • Fri, Feb 11 2011 3:49 PM In reply to

    • Karen K
    • Top 75 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Feb 24 2009
    • New York Mills, MN
    • Posts 1,327

    Re: Funeral expenses - how much should I expect to pay

    Hi Candyi,

     Really sorry to hear about your circumstances but I strongly suggest you go to 2 or 3 different funeral homes and talk to them now.  Get their general price list (GPL) and make sure you get a casket/urn price list as well.  They aren't always the same list.  Funeral homes usually offer bundled packages so be sure to watch what you are getting and paying for.  And remember that you don't have to accept and pay for services that you don't want or need.  For example, embalming is not a law in any state unless you are transporting the body over state lines, so you can opt not to have that type of service.   Are you members of a church?  Use the churches facilities instead of the funeral home.  And even if you aren't members, most churches will let you use their building for no cost or a reduced cost.  At the very least it will be less expensive than the funeral home.  There is a great savings if you don't rely on the funeral home for all of your needs.   As for a cemetary, many churches have their own or access to the public ones. 

    As VNW said, there is some savings with cremation vs burials but again - in our experience it isn't that much.  Funeral homes have lost profit over the years as cremation became more popular and as a result, they increased their prices for cremations.

    I also strongly suggest that you talk with your hospice worker and/or someone at the hospital.  Hospice is a wonderful thing, and they are very, very helpful.

    Here is a link to our website that has much info for the consumer.   Remember, if the whole $20g insurance policy is not spent the money belongs to you.  Don't let the funeral home talk you into spending more on pictures, a larger tombstone, etc. 


    In our opinion - for what it's worth - there is just no good reason why funeral expenses are as extreme as they are.  We are trying to offer a less expensive alternative just for all the reasons you mentioned.

    Take care,


    Karen K

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