How To Save Money On A Funeral And Avoid Traps

Funerals are a growing industry as the baby boomers age across the United States (the death rate begins to catch up). Since the death rate is growing, funeral prices are starting to outpace inflation.

Most families plan a funeral only once every 15 years. They may be shocked to find out that the typical funeral now runs more than $7,000 and that many will face funeral services topping $10,000.

These rising funeral prices can be a greater burden for the average family who is already struggling with high food prices and high gas prices. The economy has made it difficult for Americans to manage the financial toll due to HIGH FUNERAL COSTS.

More families are able to better control funeral expenses thanks to a new line of professions. These new professionals can give families a helpful financial lifeline when facing one of life’s most stressful events.

A person can access this profession by looking up “funeral accountant”. While this is a relatively rare occupation, a funeral accountant is a certified public accountant that helps families reduce their funeral expenses. By working with a funeral accountant, people are often able to reduce their funeral expenses by 50% and sometimes more. This can save a family thousands of dollars.

Some Strategies for Reducing Costs

A few simple strategies can be followed for any family that wants or needs to greatly reduce the high price of funeral or cremation services.

1. Calculate what funeral or CREMATION options and prices are available in your area. By familiarizing yourself with local offerings this will allow you to compare prices and services so you can find what you need at the most reasonable price.

2. Figure out which funeral services and goods are required and which are optional. Not knowing can cause a large majority of families to pay for items that they didn’t want and that they weren’t even required to buy. The families bought what the funeral director told them they “needed” to buy simply because many funeral directors now work on a commission basis. The more you buy, the more funeral directors make. So, most funeral homes are not likely to offer you the lower price options or don’t point out items that you don’t really need.

3. Investigate who also sells the funeral goods that you might need to buy. By knowing the other alternatives this will give you the tools you need to negotiate a discount from the local funeral home. Knowing how much things should cost and where the items can be found at a better price can motivate your funeral director to reduce their prices to keep the sale

What you Should Know About Burial Insurance

When choosing Burial Insurance, there are two important factors to consider. One is, “Who will make your final plans first?” and “Then how will those plans be funded?” These might seem like simple questions, but often many of us do not ask ourselves or think seriously about them.

By doing nothing at all, another person will have to handle your final arrangements. In most states at your death, lineage will decide who has the right of disposition. If there are no legal descendants to handle this task, then in most states, townships and/or counties will come in and do the final disposition done. This is usually a direct burial or cremation as chosen by the government body who is handling the case. One can avoid this possibility by choosing a family member or friend with this duty and having the legal documents necessary to carry out your burial. Make sure your chosen administrators will have access to final expense funds. Bad situations can be avoided by making sure to PREPLAN YOUR FUNERAL. By designating the beneficiary this will allow you to have specific funeral and burial expense funds that are in the control of your chosen administrator.

Also, you will want to give thought to the funding aspect of your burial arrangements. You will want to ask yourself if the your current funding (insurance, savings, etc.) will be sufficient and available when that time comes? Will your present insurance be needed to settle other expenses that could include medical bills, estate taxes, etc.? Will your present insurance or savings keep pace with funeral inflation costs? If you answered no to any of these questions, then you might wish to think about additional insurance that is designed specifically for your final expenses. Burial insurance policies can be made in small amounts to help with your existing insurance or larger amounts to cover TOTAL BURIAL AND FUNERAL COSTS.

Does everyone need burial insurance? No, but many families will be able to honor a loved one’s wishes because that person had a burial insurance policy for the time of their death. Your consideration and attention you give to these matters will make a big difference for those who eventually will do your final planning.

What is a Joint Life Insurance Policy?

Joint term life insurance allows a couple to be paid upon the first member’s death and in some cases the second (known as survivalist and second-death insurance) which can help pay for FUNERAL COSTS AND EXPENSES like CASKETSand CREMATION. Joint term life insurance allows you and your spouse the opportunity to be in a program that covers both of you under one plan. It’s the most affordable type of group term life insurance because you are both covered under the same plan and you only have to pay one premium (though the premium may be high). Since the program covers both you and your spouse, joint term life insurance is an economical way to provide the protection your family needs. After all, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW WHO WILL PASS FIRST (FUNERAL PREPLANNING will help with this).

When death strikes, the financial burden on the surviving spouse is often overwhelming, but joint life insurance allows for a little less stress. Joint life insurance policies are most often used by spouses and business partners. It provides a type of coverage that is best suited to some sort of interdependent relationship. If one of the members died, the others in the relationship would be left out to dry. Joint life insurance aims to protect against this. There is some variation within the policies, however. Some joint life insurance policies that pay out on the second death as opposed to the first. This is known as survivalist insurance. This type of joint life insurance policy might be used where two people who have high risk occupations have a similar interest in protecting the same people or assets (namely children). For instance, second-death life insurance policies can be used as trusts written in the name of a man and WOMAN‘s children. When the second parent dies, the children will be able to receive the money without having to go through probate court. You are probably asking if it is better to use a joint life insurance policy with higher premiums, or just buy two individual life insurance policies each for the same amount of coverage.

Small businesses owned by just two partners, especially family owned businesses owned by husband and wife, can greatly benefit from a joint life insurance policy designed to make sure that the business can continue if one of them dies prematurely. And as the above mentioned instance with the children’s trust alludes to, joint life insurance can work great as an estate planning vehicle so that assets don’t need to be liquidated should parents DIE PREMATURELY. Another “business” consideration where joint life insurance may be a great option is in mortgage protection for couples. This would be a good option where one of the spouses doesn’t have mortgage protection life insurance (usually in the form of “decreasing term”) and an outstanding mortgage balances still exists. However, it is better for each partner in a marriage to have their own life insurance for mortgage protection in the case of the other’s death.The answer depends on the circumstances. For one thing, a single joint life insurance policy might cost more than a policy that covers only one death, but two individual policies might add up to more than that one joint’s premium. Financial planners usually recommend a joint life insurance policy in business settings; businesses must find every means possible of cutting costs. In fact, it is with regards to business considerations of one form or another that joint life insurance policies are the better option.

In a marriage, there are usually two incomes, and those two incomes are rarely the same. Therefore, one of the spouses would possibly benefit too much and the other possibly too little if a payout had to be made on a joint life insurance policy they held. Furthermore, many marriages don’t last nowadays. If a marriage dissolves and both people have their own life insurance, they just carry it with them; if they have a joint policy I doubt they will both be willing to pay the premiums anymore and the policy will lapse, leaving neither one of them covered. If they divorce while there are still minor children to take care of, the children are put at risk as well. Joint life insurance is an excellent idea given the right circumstances.

What is a Green Funeral?

A green funeral causes minimal environmental impact and minimizes FUNERAL COSTS, usually eliminating need for a CASKET and/or CREMATION. Everyone has to go at some point in time, so why not go green? Here are some tips on how to have a green funeral.

1. Learn about Green Funerals. Not long ago, the idea of green burial was unheard of by most funeral directors, and today, for a variety of practical and emotional reasons, many people still frown upon the idea. However, there are signs that the industry is getting used to the concept. A growing number of products and services can help them do just that. Key points to think about include:

Funeral Directors: Ask your funeral director about more sustainable options, or seek out a funeral home that can offer green practices.

Specialists: Green burial specialists can help you explore greening your final resting options.

Literature on Green Funerals: Read one of the books that can guide you through the hard process.

2. Be Clear. If you are reading this, you are most likely interested in the idea. Be sure to discuss FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS with your family about this concept well in advance. Death is often a difficult process and your family members may not think to consider the environment in making arrangements. Even if they do, they may not have a grasp on what are the best and greenest courses of action to take. To further enforce this, add a clause in your will or create an advanced funeral wishes document that stipulates your green funeral concerns. Consider including a copy of this guide with your instructions.

3. Cremation. On the face of it, CREMATION doesn’t seem like an altogether green idea. Burning anything causes pollution, especially if there are toxic substances present, and returning nutrients to the ecosystem via decomposing matter is a core tenet of environmental thinking. That said, modern crematoriums have made significant reductions in emissions. Additionally, many cemeteries (particularly in the U.S.) have rules and regulations stipulating the use of concrete vaults, coffins, and other such requirements that use significant resources and space. Becoming one with nature isn’t as straightforward and easy as it may seem at first glance. Cremation may make more sense from a green perspective. If it seems like the right choice to you, you can ask the crematorium about what they are doing to reduce emissions.

4. Bury Your Remains. Ultimately, our remains are part of the food chain and the natural process of decomposition. Unfortunately, many of the trappings of modern burial–such as embalming, hardwood coffins, and concrete vaults–are designed to delay decomposition. Though these ideas have become modern standards, the truth is that anything we can do to return to the earth more easily will lessen our impact on the environment.

Preservation: Embalming slows the decomposition process. For those whose tradition does not designate embalming as part of the burial practice, consider skipping this step, and opt for a closed casket and rapid burial.

Coffins: Cardboard, bamboo, or jute coffins, shrouds, or biodegradable urns are all dignified ways to unite with nature more rapidly.

Green Burial Grounds: The Green Burial Council and other organizations are taking strides to develop and identify sustainable burial and cremation practices.

6. Give Gifts of Sympathy. Cut flowers have a short shelf-life; besides, flower-farming can be a resource-intensive endeavor. It’s already common practice to ask for donations to charity in lieu of flowers; after all, what better way to remember the dead than to create a better world for the living? From organizations that provide solar power to the developing world to others that provide bicycles for AIDS caregivers, charity-giving is a magnificent way to honor the endeavors of deceased friends or relatives.
5. Leave a Living Marker. It can be important for mourners to have somewhere to go to remember their loved ones long after the funeral is over. Natural or living memorials can be wonderful alternatives to quarried headstones or marble mausoleums. Consider planting a tree or a bush that will carry on in honor of the deceased. Online memorials are also becoming increasingly popular.

7. Explain Your Greenness. So much of what we hold dear about a person includes their ideals and convictions. It is fitting, then, to commemorate the life of a departed fellow environmentalist with a memorial ceremony that touches on the subject of the environment. We are not suggesting a 6-hour lecture on Earth Theory, but a joyful remembrance of a passionate green life well-lived. With more and more faiths and denominations from Catholicism to Judaism and beyond embracing stewardship of the environment, it shouldn’t be hard to find a minister with sympathies for your cause. Green funeral providers and any funeral director will also be able to offer advice on how to create a unique, personalized ceremony.

8. Green Up Your Funeral Service. As with any event, much of the environmental impact is in the details. Even if you don’t opt for any of the ideas above, you can still make a funeral greener by incorporating the following practices into the memorial:

Programs: Use recycled paper for programs or hymn sheets.

Flowers: Source any flowers from organic, local growers.

Procession: Make arrangements for carpooling from location to location during the funeral.

Refreshments: If the deceased was an environmentalist, the chances are they enjoyed local, organic food. If refreshments are being served, it makes sense then to look closely at where they come from.

9. The Ultimate Recycling. I’ve already suggested that using biodegradable coffins or urns, and avoiding concrete vaults, can help reduce our impact by returning our remains to the earth. However, some folks are taking this even further by finding safe ways to literally compost human remains.

10. Return to the Woods. The woodland burial movement, which started in the UK, is widely credited with the birth of interest in natural funerals in general. Not only do woodland burials involve low impact ceremonies, they also aid in the return of a piece of land to a natural forest. Trees and native wildflowers are often planted above a grave, and because the location becomes dear to the families of the deceased, chances are good that the site will remain protected for years to come.

How To Finance A Funeral Expense

Whether you’re PLANNING for one or paying for one, many aspects of a funeral can be arranged ahead of time. While it may seem morbid, it makes it easier to honor the deceased’s wishes, and it allows more time to find just the right location for the event. It also opens up new possibilities for financing, which can save you a great deal of anxiety about money during an already emotional time. Also, unless the deceased bought a prepayment plan, insurance or made other arrangements, the funeral usually has to be paid for on the spot, though some funeral homes and financing companies do offer funeral financing.

Funerals don’t have to be so pricey. There are a number of POTENTIAL COSTSinvolved in a funeral and to a great extent, the more options you choose, the more expensive the funeral will be. Even your individual preference of burial or cremation for the remains will influence your costs. Fortunately, there are also a number of financing options in advance of a death. Afterward, however, there are slim to none. A TERM OR WHOLE-LIFE INSURANCE POLICY is one popular financing option that can be purchased years ahead of the actual event. A $10,000 level term insurance policy on a healthy male runs from $12 to $20 a month or $28 to $40 for whole life. For a healthy woman, term insurance would be $12 to $15 a month, while whole life would cost $25 to $35. Unfortunately, many insurance companies won’t sell policies this small, and others won’t sell long-term term policies to older people, offering them only time-limited policies. To get the right price, you may have to shop around.

Other options for paying for a funeral in advance include:

 A prepaid funeral plan, known as an irrevocable funeral trust, which you generally buy from a particular funeral home.

 A Totten trust, which is payable to a beneficiary without going through probate.

 A joint bank account, in which you deposit a sum of money in a bank, savings and loan or credit union with one of your beneficiaries with the intention that he or she will use the money to pay for your funeral.

Upon bereavement, financing options are limited to using your credit card or getting a signature loan through a funeral home or financing company. For a rundown on the pros and cons of each option, see the table below. By federal law, funeral homes must provide you with their general price list at the beginning of any discussion of funeral planning. Using that as a starting point, you can pick apart the list and only purchase the pieces that you want in order to be more frugal. Still, when you are planning a funeral directly after bereavement, it’s difficult to even think about prices or comparison shopping because you will be under a large amount of stress. If you have the luxury of planning in advance, you can visit several funeral homes and let them know you are shopping around. Generally, any option that doesn’t include the remains of the deceased will be cheaper than those that include them, because you’ll have to use the pricey services of a funeral home.

By having direct CREMATION and no service at the funeral home, you can save thousands of dollars and can have a memorial service elsewhere. If you want a more traditional funeral, you can buy a CASKET from somewhere other than the funeral home; many funeral services’ Web sites and other vendors offer overnight delivery, directly to a funeral home, of a variety of caskets at one-third to one-half the cost you’ll pay at the funeral home. Donating the body to a medical school, mortuary school or anatomical firm can also save you money. In exchange, most will cremate the remains of the body after use and return the ashes to you. Most schools and firms require that you register before you die; contact medical or mortuary schools in your area for more information

Discussing Funeral Arrangements with Family

While discussing burial insurance and funeral arrangements with loved ones seems like an awkward conversation to have, it’s a crucial one which helps to plan for the inevitable and to help prevent any unwanted surprises.

Discussing burial insurance and funeral arrangements with loved ones is the last thing on your list of things to do. While you may have secretly plotted the demise of some co-workers, your boss, and your ex, your own funeral is really the last thing you want to talk about. After all, why the heck should you care? You’re not going to be around to see whether it’s a good time or not. But since you don’t want people coming after you in the afterlife, burial insurance and funeral arrangements should be a discussion you have even if you have to get liquored up to start the talking.

Do Your Research

You don’t want to start talking about coffins at the kitchen table unless you know what you’re talking about. You need to prepare for your conversation with your loved ones well in advance of the doorbell chiming. Look into several different burial insurance and funeral expense companies. This will help you begin to see what you need to choose and how much of the expenses will be covered by insurance. Ideally, you want to have your entire funeral planned out before you start talking to anyone about it even if you’re not dying any time soon.

Gather Your Loved Ones

Now it’s time to invite people to your funeral planning party. Of course, you want your close family members there and your closest friends and anyone else you think you might want to share your funeral day with. Talk to them about the funeral insurance policy you have, where it’s kept, and what it covers. If you can, try to have this meeting somewhere in public and casual. You don’t want anyone to cause a scene when you tell them that you just want to be cremated or that you want to avoid a memorial service altogether.

Try to Keep Things Calm

It’s always good to start off with a joke when you’re talking about your death. Oh, and make sure to bring your medical records with you too in order to show the family and friends that you are not actually dying (unless you are). Then start with the joke. The idea of sitting down with your loved ones to talk about the burial insurance and funeral arrangements is to simply tell others what you want and how you want your funeral to look. This is not a time for discussion or arguments, though if your loved ones have questions, this is a time to answer them.

When you begin to feel things get too emotional, you might want to stop the strategy session until things can calm down again. Just try to pretend like this is a wedding planning session, but for death. That should keep everyone comfortable, right? That’s not weird at all…

Planning My Own Funeral

Planning for my own funeral seems like such a dark thing to do, but when you consider how helpful it is for those who have to bury you, you might just want to reconsider.

Most of us don’t want to think about planning our own funerals, unless we’re in the middle of a very boring meeting or a reprimand with our boss. But when we do take the time out of our busy lives to PLAN OUR FUNERALS, we can not only have one less thing on our calendars to handle, but your family and friends can simply grieve for you and not try to think of songs you might want played as the coffin is lowered into the ground.

Why Funeral Insurance and Planning Makes Sense

You can begin your own funeral planning process by looking into funeral insurance. This is an insurance policy which will help to cover the expenses of being celebrated and buried. With these insurance agents, you will learn what needs to be done in order to handle a funeral and other tasks that need to happen before one can say Rest In Peace. You will be able to plan out your funeral to the second, if you like, making sure that your wishes are immortalized on paper and so that your parents can’t step in and try to plan something else. It happens.

With funeral life insurance, you will begin to make payments on a policy which will cover the costs (including inflation in some cases) of your death. This is going to keep your friends and family as happy as possible when you die and free of extra bills. The truth is that while you might think the government and Social Security is going to foot the bill, this is not the case. They only pay $225, and most modern funerals are at least $5,000. You do the math.

Take a few hours to pick out the COFFIN or the URN, test it out for size (the coffin, the urn might be trickier) and then settle on a funeral insurance plan that will cover any and all EXPENSES you can think of. Not only can you Rest in Peace, but so can everyone else in your circle of loved ones.

Cremation Costs and Considerations

Should You Consider Cremation Costs?

Should you be cremated? Once you learn of the cremation costs and considerations, you can make a more informed and educated decision about cremation.

‘Ashes to ashes’ isn’t just a song you can sign to yourself in the shower when no one is looking–it’s a way you can handle your remains after you die. No one wants to think about death, but instead of leaving your relatives to fight over the possibilities, maybe you should make the cremation decision now, while you’re still alive to explain it to others in your family. Then they can fight out it in front of you, not when you’re looking down on them from Heaven or the next life or whatever you believe in.

Why Others are Being Cremated

If you want to succumb to peer pressure, you might want to look at why so many others are being turned into dust after their death. First things first, since you’re going to be dead, many people don’t really care what happens to their body. And cremation is cheap, so is makes sense to choose that over a more expensive and elaborate funeral procession. The ashes also take up less space, so there are lower interment and burial fees as well. Your loved ones always liked a bargain (around $800) when you were alive, but they will appreciate your thrift even more after you are gone; after all, who wants to spend over $5,000 on a funeral? Even your loved ones don’t love you that much.

Cremation is fast and it’s also environmentally appropriate for those hippies out there. (Well, the pollution from crematoriums is debatable.) You’re not going to take up a lot of room when you’re put into the ground or scattered across the water, so you’re not damaging the earth or taking up valuable land space.

Being cremated is cool and more and more people are doing it. In fact, in Japan, nearly 98% of their many millions of people are cremated upon death, so it must be a good idea. Also, look into our new page on GREEN FUNERALS for why cremation might be right for you!

Why You Might Not Want to Turn to Ash

You might want to be placed in COFFIN where you can be viewed during a wake or memorial service. That takes embalming fluid, which is not used before a straight cremation–and it’s very expensive. But it is necessary for a viewing. Oh, decisions, decisions.

Casket Types and Considerations

Caskets are still a common sight at funerals, but before you decide, you should consider the casket types and the COSTS they will incur.

Caskets are not just for vampires, you know. When you’re being put into the ground for your last sleep, you might decide that you want to have something a little posher than your current king size bed like a nice lined-coffin all for yourself. Even though you’re dead, that’s no reason to be cheap, after all. If you’ve opted for burial insurance which covers the costs of a coffin, go for it. But if not, you might want to step back the think about what costs you might be putting your loved ones through. To avoid this, it is a good idea to PREPLAN YOUR FUNERAL.

A Casket or a Coffin?

The words caskets and coffin are used interchangeably, though ‘coffin’ is losing a bit of its appeal… too creepy, right? These caskets can be made out of fiberglass, wood, or metal, and come with a variety of different liners and decorations. You can find a very ornate coffin or you might want something as simply as a wooden box that just gives your body a place to rest. Remember that style comes with a price tag: $2,000 and all the way up to $10,000 for some makes and models.

And let’s face it, if there was no burial insurance or a burial plan in place, you’re going to do to a funeral parlor and be shown a few models in order to make a choice. You won’t want to be cheap and pick the cheapest one, but that is still one that is generally overpriced. Instead, you need to ask the funeral director where their discount caskets are as you should be able to find something for less than $1,000. No need for them to scrape you for every penny in your time of grieving.

Rent a Coffin?

Or you might want to look into renting a coffin for the wake and then bury the deceased in a plain box. After all, the deceased isn’t really going to get to enjoy the satin pillow or lining. Many funeral homes will offer this service, and if one doesn’t, go somewhere else.

Should you have a casket? That’s really up to you and to your funeral plan. Most times, they can be too large an expense for people. For example, you might want your family to have a big party with the money you’ve left them not pay for a casket that cost more than your first car (and doesn’t reach 60 in less than 4 seconds).

Buying a Tombstone

How to Buy a Tombstone

A memorial stone, or a tombstone, is something which can help your loved ones to have a place to visit after your death. Learning how to buy a tombstone isn’t as difficult as it seems.

Tombstones aren’t just pizzas that you can heat up in a jiffy. These grave markers are available to help mark the place where your body has been laid to rest. Loved ones can visit, heckle you, and leave flowers here for you. These markers can be intricate (if your family loved you) or they can be simple (if your family is cheap). If you have a particular tombstone in mind, you might want to consider PREPLANNING YOUR FUNERAL to make sure you get what you want–limerick and all.

Buying a Memorial Stone

You want to shop around for a memorial stone that fits your personality as much as it suits your budget. After all, this is the last physical thing on the earth that will stand up for you and serve as a reminder to your loved ones of how great you were. You might want to talk to funeral homes and cemeteries in your area to see who they recommend for this service. Or you might want to head to the local cemeteries in your area to see whose tombstones you really admit and want for yourself.

These stones will take some time to create, as they need to be carved by a professional artist, so if you want the stone to be up immediately after your death, you will want to get the stone ordered and carved as early as possible. Then, when you die, all they need to do is to carve the date of your death–easy as can be.

In your BURIAL INSURANCE plan, you can signify that you want the stone to be made out of a certain stone–marble, granite, soapstone, etc. And you can also sketch out the design you want, ensuring that your crazy Aunt Fanny doesn’t create a tombstone that looks like something from the circus.

Buying your tombstone now makes sense, as you don’t want your family to have any more decisions to make than they absolutely need. And you know what you want better than anyone else; don’t leave your tombstone in anyone else’s hands. Well, once you’re dead, it doesn’t really matter, but you’re not dead right now. Are you?