The loss of a loved one can be a very stressful time in your life. Not only are you left with the loss, but it often comes as a surprise to find out how much organising is required.
A funeral usually needs to be arranged quickly and paid for promptly, so you may have to make decisions in a hurry, particularly if the person who died hasn’t left any directions. Your choices will decide how much the funeral costs – and you may need to think about how those costs will be met.
What costs are involved with a funeral?
An average funeral costs around $10,000, but it can range from as little as $5,000 up to $20,000 or more. A funeral will typically involve costs such as:
- Cremation or burial (more below)
- The services of a funeral director, although you can opt to do this yourself
- A funeral service, perhaps with printed programmes
- The cost of transporting the deceased
- Memorial items such as books, audiovisual presentations, death notices and more
You can see a more comprehensive list here.
Cremation and burial costs
Cremation is usually around $1,000, and urns start from about $200. This makes cremation the less expensive option, as you avoid a range of costs associated with burial.
Burial plot and interment prices vary by region, but burial plots start from around $2,000 and interment fees from $1,000 in the main centres.
Caskets range from around $1,000 up to $10,000. Preparing the deceased for burial also comes at a cost, beginning at about $600 for embalming.
A memorial plaque or headstone will start from around $1,000, including lettering. The price increases as they get larger, the materials become more expensive, or you choose to customise the memorial.
How can you keep the cost of a funeral down?
Costs vary hugely - as with any event, the more you include, the more you will pay. At one end of the spectrum, you could choose a burial, a large service, and a catered wake for hundreds of guests. There is almost no limit to what you could potentially spend if your budget allowed.
At the other end of the spectrum, you can choose a cremation and have a minimal memorial service, or no service at all. This could keep costs down to around $5,000 or even lower.
Should you use a funeral director? There is a lot of organisation and admin involved in arranging any funeral. You don’t necessarily need the help of a funeral director, but it will certainly make your life easier and save you a lot of time and potential stress. However, if you are on a tight budget, you can save this cost by organising it all yourself.
Paying for a funeral
Funeral costs are usually paid by the estate of the deceased – the person who has died covers the cost from the funds leftover from their life. Banks can make the payment for the funeral directly from the deceased person’s account – they just need proof of death and the invoice from the funeral home.
If there isn’t enough in the estate to pay for a funeral, family members will often have to pay, or they can apply for a Funeral Grant from Work and Income NZ. In some cases the deceased may be eligible for a funeral grant from ACC or Veterans’ Affairs.
For your own funeral, it is possible to preplan a funeral and pay for it in advance through a funeral trust. This can take stress off your loved ones after your death. Talk to your lawyer for more information on how to set this up.
If someone you love has died, we know there can be a lot to sort out. Westpac has a specialist team dedicated to managing deceased estates.