Funeral Costs and Burial Expenses – Advice From a Licensed Funeral Director
As a funeral director for nearly thirty years, I’m often asked by the public, why funeral and burial costs are getting so expensive. This question is one that I expect to continue to hear for the remainder of my career as I believe we are only at the beginning of a price explosion for these types of services.
In my opinion, the future of funeral and burial expenses will be dictated by one word,
“cremation.” As more and more people choose cremation for final disposition there will be a direct correlation in price increases for those who choose a traditional ground burial I believe.
Funeral homes and cemeteries are like any other business in most respects. These entities have the same operating expenses as others. Most firms operate on tight budgets with payroll, utilities, insurance, etc, again like any typical expense a business would have. In many cases these facilities operating expenses are much higher in areas like payroll as funeral homes for example must staff their business twenty four hours a day, seven days a week,. in many cases. Overhead expenses continue to rise and for many funeral facilities and cemeteries while revenues continue to decrease due to cremation.
When you think about it, really it’s no mystery why cremation is having this effect on traditional costs. Usually (but not always) with cremation, no casket or burial vault is purchased and quite often no formal funeral services are handled by the chosen facility.These items would normally accommodate some of the facilities overhead expenses. When they are not purchased however, this greatly effects how overhead costs would be spread out over a firm’s total volume of business each year. Because of increased competition from cremation societies and other facilities offering discount cremation services, to remain competitive price wise, traditional funeral facilities have nowhere else to cover these costs but through those families choosing traditional ground burial services. This is the real reason caskets, burial vaults, cemetery and funeral service charges are rising so fast and not just “greedy funeral directors” as the uninformed would have you believe.
Do funeral homes and cemeteries make a profit? Sure they do, but most funeral homes and cemeteries profit margins are actually very small compared to other industries. Those who would disagree simply are either uninformed and/or not being realistic to what is happening in the death care industry. Many times those who are usually touting “greed” in the death care industry to the public, are only doing so in order to sell their own products, leaving funeral facilities and cemeteries less opportunity to spread out these costs. This in truth is actually accelerating the rise in funeral costs, ultimately for everyone in my opinion.
My advice to anyone concerned about rising funeral costs is to consider preplanning.
Talk with your funeral facility of choice about current options they may offer to freeze or lower these costs. Many offer options that will do just that and ultimately provide for a lower cost and less stressful funeral.
Jerry R. Guy is an active licensed funeral director and author. Advice on planning and preplanning funerals and cremations can be found at his sites: http://www.beforeplanningafuneral.com and http://www.integritypreneedsolutions.com