Funeral costs explained
When it comes to organising a funeral, the costs can quietly build up behind the scene – particularly if the funeral hasn’t been prearranged.
The last thing you need is financial stress at a time which is already emotionally raw. So that you’re not caught off-guard, here are the main things of which you need to be aware – plus some of the sneaky little ones as well.
Funeral director fees
When choosing a funeral director, ask for the fees for each service to be fully explained and listed in a document. Also, be aware of charges which can multiply each time you make contact or have a query. The range of items for which funeral directors can charge may include:
- responding to funeral inquiries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- arranging and co-ordinate the funeral service
- organising and overseeing any important documents – such as death certificates, doctors certificates, burial and cremation orders
- helping to plan the music, singers, organist, etc.
- making counselling arrangements and referrals to support groups
- caring for and preparing the deceased
- attending and performing the funeral service
- liaising with the clergy, cemetery (or crematorium), florists, newspapers, etc.
There are other items which may also be relevant. Why not take a look at this list to get an idea?
Budget for the funeral venue (e.g. chapel), funeral home, viewing room (if used), and any personal touches you’d like to have – such as flowers, musicians, attendance books and recordings of the service.
It’s the quality of material used which mostly affects the cost – as well as how the casket is made. For example, something which is handmade and carved out of timber will be on the upper-end of the price scale.
Don’t forget about adding the cost of the hearse (vehicle which transports the deceased), and any other vehicles which you hire (e.g. to transport family members to and from the service).
Burial or cremation
For burials, account for the cost of purchasing a gravesite or crypt, and for the burial procedures (interment). Costs will vary depending on the cemetery.
For cremations, there’s the fee for having the cremation performed and for the remains to be prepared for collection.
Headstone, plaque or monument
As with caskets, there are many choices for memorials. Again, the cost will depend on the materials used, its size and how it was made.
Post-funeral gathering (wake or repast)
This is a cost which can easily be forgotten. Consider getting close family and friends to prepare some food to cover the catering. This will lighten some of the financial burden.
In the end, just do your best to delicately balance the deceased’s wishes with what you can afford.
Remember, you may also be eligible for financial help through Centrelink.
Also, here’s a general list of services a funeral director may provide, and for which there are usually associated costs.
Funeral expense entitlements
Did a close loved one recently pass away? Then you may be entitled to receive payments from Centrelink. This can be worth looking into – as the payments can relieve some of the funeral burden at what is already an intensely distressing time.
As a heads up, here’s a list of those who may be entitled to receive Centrelink payments:
Spouse or partner
If your partner died while you were both receiving a pension or other government benefits, you’re likely to be entitled.
Were you a carer for the deceased? You may be eligible if you were receiving a carer’s allowance or payment at the time when they died.
A few different payments are offered if your child has died or your baby was stillborn. Receiving these will depend on a few factors. You may also be eligible if you had adopted your child and are receiving an orphan pension.
You’ll find specific details on these payments on Centrelink’s website or you may prefer to call its office on 13 23 00 to get advice.
Besides Centrelink, you may also be eligible for payments from organisations such as:
- the Department of Veterans Affairs
- insurance companies (e.g. if the deceased had life insurance)
- relevant state transport accident body
- some private health funds
If any of these apply to you and your loved one, contact the relevant organisations to find out whether you are entitled to any payments. Why not take a look at this resource for more information?
There is one step people can take to reduce their assets tested.
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