Washington, DC - It has been said that the only two things that can be counted as certainties are death and taxes. Uncle Sam ensures the payment of taxes every April 15, but there is no such uncle forcing Americans to prepare for the other inevitable event: funeral expenses.
When asking consumers if they were financially prepared to pay the funeral expenses of a loved one, the recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) online poll revealed that an overwhelming 83% either were either not prepared to take on the financial responsibilities associated with a funeral, or had no idea what a funeral costs.
"Today the average cost for expenses associated with a funeral in America is estimated to be between $7,000 and $10, 000," said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. "Even though it may be difficult to think about, making decisions in advance will pay off both emotionally and financially."
Funeral decisions can become complicated, generally involving multiple entities such as the funeral home, the cemetery and purchasing a headstone or grave marker. The funeral home may offer to provide all of these services as a package, or the consumer may opt to contract with each entity separately.
Additional costs that may be incurred include transporting the remains, embalming, using the funeral home for a viewing, visitation, or ceremony, and the use of a hearse or limousine. The list continues with the purchase of death certificates, flowers, obituary notices, officiating clergy, organists and soloists.
With so many decisions to be made, the NFCC suggests that consumers consider the following when planning a funeral:
"Each and every year people put thought into paying their taxes, creating a plan to responsibly meet that obligation. A one-time preparation for funeral planning should be seen as equally important," continued Cunningham.
For help finding money in your budget for funeral planning, reach out to an NFCC Member Agency. To find the location closest to you, call (800) 388-2227, or go online to www.DebtAdvice.org <http://www.DebtAdvice.org>. For assistance in Spanish dial (800) 682-9832.
The actual poll question and answer choices are below:
A. True = 17%
B. False = 60%
C. I have no idea what a funeral costs = 23%
Note: The NFCC's March Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the homepage of the NFCC Web site (www.DebtAdvice.org <http://www.DebtAdvice.org>) from March 1 - 31, 2013 and was answered by 949 individuals.