A Financial Move That Can Protect Those You Love

Ageing, Family, Must Have Documents, Trust, Will

March 28, 2024

I know the last thing you ever want to cause is financial stress for your loved ones. With that in mind, I am going to ask you to take a deep breath and listen to me with an open mind and heart. The topic may not be easy for some of you to contemplate, but I hope you will see the tremendous help and security you can provide for your loved ones if you tackle this challenge right now.


The topic is the cost of paying for your funeral. It is not a small sum. The national average cost in 2021 (the latest data available) for a burial including a full service is more than $8,500. Cremations cost about $7,500 on average.


I think we can agree that’s a lot of money. Moreover, there are so many decisions to be made about different services for burial and cremation it can impose emotional stress on top of financial stress for your loved ones, at a time when they will already be consumed with grief.


Again, that’s the last thing you want to have any part in, right? So let’s talk about tangible decisions and moves you can make right now to ensure you have done everything possible to reduce the financial burden your passing may cause. Follow through on this advice and you will have added such an incredibly loving coda to your legacy.


Decide what matters to you.


It is going to be so helpful for your loved ones to know your wishes. Do you want a full funeral service, or do you prefer a graveside burial service? Cremation? Even if you don’t care, make that clear. Otherwise, you leave it to everyone to guess, and that can lead to arguments, which is never your goal, and certainly not at such a sad time.


Communicate your wishes.


Put it in writing. And I encourage you to also discuss it with your loved ones.


For burials, be explicit about what you want.


An analysis of funeral costs by Self, found that the cost of a casket is the single largest expense. That report noted that official government cost data found that the price of a casket appreciated at more than double the rate of general inflation between 1986-2017. The average cost is around $2,500. The thing is, that average includes a wide range from simple (much cheaper) to ornate (much more expensive.)


The choice of what type of casket you want is yours to make. But what I hope you won’t do is not make the choice yourself. Because if you leave it to your loved ones, it can become a hard decision to make at a hard time. They may feel compelled or pressured to purchase a more expensive casket, and that may become a financial burden for them. If you want a more ornate casket, I hope you will provide the funds for it. Which brings me to my last point.


Cover the costs, if possible.


Given the rising cost of funerals and cremations, you might want to consider prepaying for these services today. Another option is to make sure there is always enough money in your checking account to cover the expenses, and that at least one other family member is a joint owner of that account, so they have easy access to the money. 


Please don’t think that just because people will inherit money from you, that they will have the cash at hand to cover your last wishes. Funeral costs have to be paid in the first few days after someone dies, and inheritances can take weeks to process, even if you have everything set up perfectly. (Ahem, if you’re wondering what “set up perfectly” means, I encourage you to check out the Must Have Documents online program to help you create the same documents I use.) The last thing any of us want is for your funeral costs to end up on a loved one’s credit card bill that can’t be paid off.


That you are still reading this tells me you are a strong and caring person. This topic may not be the easiest to think through. But acting on it now is such a powerful act of love.

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