Cost of dying is on the rise – what you can expect to pay

The cost of living has been a phrase used far too often in recent months. Sadly, given the pandemic, so too is the cost of dying.

Four years after the release of its first report on the topic, Australian Seniors has released its ‘Cost of Death Report 2.0’. It reveals that almost 90 per cent are feeling the weight of funeral costs.

That’s understandable on two fronts.

First, one of the sad realities is that COVID has claimed many Australian lives. Many of the families of COVID victims are dealing with those costs earlier than expected. Others are dealing with such costs for the first time. In some instances, it’s a case of ‘both of the above’.

Second, those costs have been pushed higher by a number of factors. The first Australian Seniors report into the cost of dying was released in 2019, just months before the pandemic’s onset. The new version factors in all that’s happened in the four years since.

The cost of dying has been subject to the same pressures as the cost of living.

What’s driving the rising cost of dying?

The new cost of dying report is based on research commissioned by Australian Seniors and conducted by CoreData this year. The survey gathered 1200 responses from Australians aged 50 and over. All have either paid for – or have been made aware of the cost of – a funeral in the past year.

The new report shows Australians are now paying up to $18,652 for a basic burial funeral. For a basic cremation, you can expect to pay up to $5953.

An Australian Seniors statement accompanying the report cites the rising costs of several funeral services as the main drivers. These include, “embalming, viewing, transportation, and professional fees – along with the cost of coffins and burial plots to name a few.”

The report says estimated funeral costs have increased by more than 20 per cent for burials and cremations. “In 2023, the average burial costs $11,039, compared to $9,055 in 2019. Similarly, the average cremation now costs $8,045, compared to $6,334 in 2019.”

How does knowing help?

That’s a fair question. If it results in nothing more than us lamenting the rising cost of dying, the report is hardly useful. While the report itself makes no recommendations, Australian Seniors suggests, “it’s important that we factor in rising costs to ensure our loved ones are not burdened after we’re gone”.

Given Australian Seniors is in the business of funeral insurance, such a suggestion is hardly surprising. Nevertheless, it’s advice worth considering. Being aware of potential costs can help us plan to deal with them and limit the shock factor.

The report’s focus is not just on cost, either. It reveals how Australians are changing in our approach to funerals and other celebrations of life.

As we consider the cost of dying, thinking about how we best celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost isn’t a bad idea either.

Has the cost of dying become something you’ve thought about more often recently? Have you changed your approach to the concept since COVID? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: Death – it doesn’t have to be a dirty word

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by Andrew Gigacz

Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.

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