Most people have no idea how much a funeral costs until they need to arrange one for a relative or friend. The cost of funerals in Australia generally ranges from around $4,000 for a simple affair to $15,000 or more for an elaborate funeral with a special casket, burial and flowers.
There can be a lack of transparency in the funeral industry about costs. Bereaved families are often reluctant to ask for itemised pricing of different elements of a funeral, for fear that money – and not their loved one – will be perceived as their priority.
Research has shown that cost is the biggest influencer when planning a funeral, nominated by two-thirds of Australians as being extremely or significantly influential – a much bigger factor than religion, life philosophy or family traditions.
Family or friends looking to cover the cost of the funeral immediately should check whether their loved one had made any arrangements in advance, such as:
The relevant paperwork may have been left with their solicitor or the Executor of the Will.
Some insurance policies, such as health and life insurance, will make contributions to the cost of a funeral, but can take some time to pay out.
If you have superannuation, your fund will pay out your super, plus any life insurance, to your dependents or estate after your death. While this money can go towards funeral expenses, it can take some time to be paid out. Contact your loved one’s super fund as soon as possible after they pass away to find out how to file a claim.
If you have a terminal illness, it might be possible to have your super released early to pay for funeral expenses. In some circumstances, you can also get your super released early to pay funeral costs for a dependant. Check the Department of Human Services website for details.
Families in need of financial assistance may be eligible for a bereavement payment – a lump sum for funeral expenses – from Centrelink. It’s most commonly granted when both partners were receiving Centrelink benefits. Centrelink can also approve the early release of superannuation funds to meet funeral expenses.
Your loved one’s money can be used to pay for funeral costs. Find out from their bank how much is in their account and whether money can be withdrawn for immediate expenses. It’s also possible to pay for funeral expenses using the deceased’s estate, but this can be a complicated and lengthy process. Usually the funeral will need to be paid for weeks or months before the estate has been settled, so someone will have to pay the immediate costs and be reimbursed later from the estate.
If your loved one had served in the Australian Defence Force, you may be eligible for a bereavement payment from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. If you are the partner, dependant or carer of someone who was receiving a DVA pension, you may be able to receive bereavement assistance after their death. Notify the DVA as soon as possible after the death.
In today’s digital world, more and more people are turning to crowdfunding as a way to cover funeral expenses.
The cost of a funeral can come as a shock to families, who may not have the funds to cover even a basic funeral, particularly if a death was sudden or unexpected.
Crowdfunding raises money by requesting donations from people online. The reach of email and social media means crowdfunding can be an efficient and effective way to collect funds for a funeral or memorial service.
As well as raising money for funeral costs, crowdfunding brings people together to support a cause. It can build a network of social and emotional support, letting grieving families know that others care for them and their lost loved one and share in their pain.
Nobody likes to think of family and friends struggling to pay for our funeral after we die. It’s one reason a growing number of people are buying prepaid funerals, which are paid for, planned and contracted in advance with a funeral director of their choice.
Prepaid funerals let you pay in advance for your funeral, either with a lump sum or in regular instalments over a few years, and to plan details such as the coffin or casket, readings or music for the ceremony, and whether you want to be buried or cremated.
Many people who buy prepaid funerals do so to make things easier for their loved ones after their death, sparing them the financial and emotional burden of planning a funeral when they are grieving a loss.
It’s also a sensible choice financially. When you prepay for a funeral, you lock everything in at today’s prices. That means you will still have paid for the entire cost of your funeral, even if you live many years longer and funeral prices rise.
While some people find it confronting to plan their funeral in advance and have to think about their eventual death, others find a prepaid funeral gives them peace of mind, knowing everything has been taken care of.
Most funeral directors offer prepaid funerals, but different directors will offer different packages. Before you buy a prepaid funeral, make sure you get an itemised list of costs and what is supplied under the contract so you know exactly what you’re paying for.
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