The cost of a funeral in the United States can range anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000 US dollars. That's just for the basics! If you need to organize a funeral right now it's important to know that funeral homes are required by law to provide you with a price list of their services and they will always try and honor the families and loved ones' wishes. But this may not fit your budget.
Paying Funeral Expenses Before Probate
Probate often feels like a complex and overwhelming process. However, this legal process is essential in order for beneficiaries to receive the inheritance as outlined in a last will and testament. Uncovering how long it takes for a will to go to probate is yet another item to contend with in planning a funeral.
Probate is an estate administration procedure that is used in order for the court to distribute the decedent’s property among his or her beneficiaries. The assets are legally passed down to the correct people. Generally speaking, it takes anywhere between three months to two years to initiate and fulfill the probate process. It depends on the size of the estate and the complexity of the assets. Learn more about how long is a will valid after death.
If you’re facing funeral expenses, this can be a long time to receive benefits and payouts in order to cover these essential costs.
Can You Pay Funeral Expenses Before Probate?
The funeral is one of the first and usually one of the largest expenses incurred after a person dies. A funeral can include everything from the actual burial expenses and the burial plot to a headstone and casket. All of these expenses can really add up and as executor, you need to know if you can use money from the estate to pay for these costs.
Fortunately, you can but there’s a certain process to follow. While you can use money in the estate to pay for funeral costs, you can’t do it immediately. Instead, you will need to treat funeral costs like any other expense of the estate. Therefore, you’ll need to ask the funeral home to bill the estate for the associated costs instead of offering to write a check to cover costs immediately. Funeral wishes in will can help loved ones bear the burden of funeral expenses.
If you’ve already covered the costs of a funeral, you can file a creditor claim with the probate court. The creditor claim for funeral expenses must be filed before four months from when letters are issued to the general personal representative. As a general rule, only assets that are part of the “probate estate” are subject to probate court proceedings and creditor claims.
How Are Funeral Expenses Paid?
In the United States, we have culturally distanced ourselves from death and have largely moved the process from home to institution. After the Great Depression and World War II, life expectancy increased and death became Taboo. Modern society shifted death out of sight and mind, railing against aging, whisking the dying to hospitals, and ushering the deceased to funeral homes. This sheltering from the organic and necessary end of the life cycle has created a “death illiteracy” that renders the consumer particularly vulnerable to foolish decision-making and exploitation while planning a funeral and/or burial. Important conversations about end-of-life planning, the responsibility to pay for one’s own funerary expenses, the notion of planning for inexpensive, simpler options, and meaningfully addressing funeral poverty are all ideas generally without traction in the United States. The consumer cloaks himself in the illusion of immortality and end-of-life planning threatens that illusion.
Although most people don't like to think about it, death is inevitable. However, the United States is one of the only industrialized countries in the world where end-of-life planning is still taboo and as a result, two-thirds of the US population dies interstate meaning without a will or estate plan of any kind.
Benefits of Funeral Wishes In Will
Funeral poverty means that two out of every three American adults do not have an after-life plan stipulating their wishes or means to pay for it. In the Latin and Black communities, this is 1 in 4 adults. The reality is that four out of ten Americans would have difficulty covering an unexpected $400 expense, and 12% would be unable to pay the unexpected $400 by any means. Last year excluding cemetery costs, the median cost of an adult funeral with viewing and burial was $7,640 and the median cost of an adult funeral with viewing and cremation was $6,645. I personally experienced this first hand when our dad died and my 2 brothers and I had to pay for this ourselves.
It is not uncommon for people who can't afford even a cremation for them to be forced to abandon relatives' remains altogether, leaving it to coroners and funeral homes to pay for cremation and disposal.”
Needless to say, a lot of those heartaches can be avoided by properly planning your will and funeral preferences, and it is not a bad idea to set some money aside to pay for it as well.
Funeral cost summary
Cost for Body removal can range from $125 to $500.
Service Fee; $2,000 (e.g. legal, accounting, professional licenses, insurance, maintenance, and administration).
An average casket will cost around $2,200.
Burial Vaults (required in many cemeteries
Embalming fees can range from $225 to $1,200.
Dressing, Hair, and Make up for viewing. The average fee for this service is $200.
Storage and refrigeration Storage fees range from $35 to $100 per day.
Viewing. Funeral home fees for viewings can range from $150 to $1,200.
Funeral ceremony staff fees range from $500 to $800.
Hearse or Funeral Coach, fees are $300 on average
Other things that may cost money are: Printed Programs, Guest Register, Flowers, Clergy or Celebrant Fees, Musician(s), Grave Opening and Closing, Grave plots, Temporary Burial Marker, Obituary, Urns, Grave Markers, Monuments, and Headstones
Corey Williams, Paying for funerals impossible for many poor families, ABC NEWS (Jan. 20, 2019, 9:31 AM), https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/paying-funerals-impossiblepoor-families-6050593