How to Be Financially Prepared for Unexpected Funeral Costs

Why It Matters:
  • Funeral costs for Americans topped $16 billion in 2017.1
  • The average cost of a funeral is $9,000.1
  • Most families tend to emotionally overspend due to impaired financial judgment following their loss.

Rich Oswald tkc.profilePicture Written by: Rich Oswald
July 15, 2020

5 Min readClock Icon

No one likes talking about, let alone planning for, a funeral. But, even though it’s a difficult conversation to have, it’s a reality we all must face. And so, too, are the costs associated with it. Fortunately, by planning ahead, you can make the entire process easier — and less of a financial burden.

Knowing that Americans had $16 billion in funeral costs in 2017, 1 it’s important that you have a solid financial plan in place to deal with an unexpected death in the family. One of the best ways to ensure you’re ready to deal with end-of-life expenses like medical bills and funeral costs is by finding the right life insurance policy now. Once in place, your policy can give you confidence that your loved ones will be properly provided for.

Once you take a look at some of the current (and constantly rising) costs of a funeral, you’ll quickly see why it’s necessary to find ways to plan for them.

How much does a funeral cost?

Along with the emotional toll, a funeral can exact a huge financial toll as well. In 2019, the average cost of a funeral was $9,000. Adding additional arrangements like a catered reception and music can quickly push that number north of five figures.1 That’s enough to wipe out all but the most robust emergency funds.

Here are some typical funeral costs, according to the National Funeral Directors Association:2

  • Caskets can range from $2,000 to $5,000
  • Headstone or grave marker is $1,000 for a flat one and between $2,000 to $5,000 for an upright one
  • Transportation to the funeral home and facilities and staff to manage a viewing and a funeral ceremony runs about $1,325
  • Embalming costs up to $1,000
  • Flowers can be between $500 to $700

Honestly, it can be surprising to see the sheer scope of mandatory funeral expenses listed in that way. To compound matters, there’s a tendency to overspend while bearing the emotional burden of a recent loss. That’s why you should be sure to take your time and comparison shop. It will grant you additional peace of mind knowing you did so.

Mitigating costs

Take heart. Even though there are a lot of funeral expenses to address, there are some cost-saving measures you can use, including Social Security benefits, burial insurance, cremation, and life insurance.

Social Security

Social security provides a one-time lump-sum payment of $255 to the surviving spouse, or if there is no surviving spouse, to a child of the deceased. It’s not going to put a huge dent in the bigger picture of funeral expenses, but it could help with the typical cost of an obituary, which typically runs about $200.1

Burial Insurance

Burial insurance is only used to cover the cost of a funeral and the rates are based on demographic information. In 2019, a 65-year-old woman in good health could get a $40 a month policy with a $10,000 death benefit. A 65-year-old man in good health would pay $55 for the same policy. Plan on the price going up about 30-40% every five years that you’re in the plan, up to the age of 80.1


While it doesn’t allow for the traditional funeral ceremony, cremation is a more affordable option. With no funeral service, it can cost as little as $450.2

Life Insurance

While not necessarily top of mind for most people shopping for insurance, addressing burial expenses is the second-highest priority among life insurance topics, just behind income replacement.3 In fact, in 2019, 30% of people purchasing life insurance cited burial expenses as their reason for doing so.3 Having life insurance with a death benefit can provide peace of mind in numerous ways, from helping to protect your family’s way of life to helping fund your children’s education.

With a plan in place, you can be confident that your family is prepared no matter what the future holds.

Things to Consider:

  • Create a financial plan to address funeral expenses.
  • Maximize your financial resources by comparison shopping for funeral products and services.
  • Discover Transamerica’s solutions that suit your specific life insurance needs.

1 “Burial Funds & Programs That Help with Funeral Costs,”, accessed June 2020

2 “Funeral Costs to Plan For,”, April 2019

“LIMRA 2019 Barometer Report,”, accessed June 2020

Transamerica Resources, Inc. is an Aegon company and is affiliated with various companies which include, but are not limited to, insurance companies and broker dealers. Transamerica Resources, Inc. does not offer insurance products or securities. The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as insurance, securities, ERISA, tax, investment, legal, medical or financial advice or guidance. Please consult your personal independent professionals for answers to your specific questions.


Tags in this article

Insurance Financial Planning Empowerment

More Security



Thanks for subscribing!

Your subscription wasn't successful. Please try again later.

Please enter a valid email address.

Please enter a valid first name.

Please enter a valid last name.