Funeral costs still on the rise

The costs of a funeral are going up, and more people are having to leave loved ones to be buried by governments. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The death of a loved one is a taxing event emotionally, and the costs associated with death are only increasing. Funeral and burial costs have been on the rise for years and show no signs of slowing.

Governments having to shoulder cost of more burials

The cost of a burial, funeral costs and dealing with remains are getting so expensive that more remains are being left for state and local governments to deal with, according to USA Today.

Coroner’s offices nationwide are noting an increased number of unclaimed remains and burials of indigent people. A survey of National Association of Medical Examiners members revealed almost half of the 50 people who responded to the survey had noted a rise in unclaimed bodies. Unclaimed remains are usually interred by the city or county.

A rise in burials and cremations by city governments has been going on for some time. According to MSNBC, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office saw an 80 percent rise of indigent remains in one six-month period between 2007 and 2008.

Numerous cities handling the burden

Numerous cities are having to shoulder the cost of interring the unclaimed dead. According to USA Today, the city of Jacksonville, Fla., has cremated 341 indigent people’s remains this year so far. Jacksonville had 297 for all of 2010 and 241 in 2009.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the recession is also causing various towns to raise burial fees at municipal cemeteries. Municipal cemetery burials are cheaper than private cemeteries, but falling tax revenues and increasing costs of upkeep are forcing rates to be raised. The city of Moab, Utah, had to raise the cost of a plot and burial from $150 to $700 in July. Brunswick, Ga., raised the price of a plot and burial in May to $900 from the previous fee of $200.

According to the Marietta Times of Marietta, Ohio, the city had budgeted $23,400 for the 15 projected indigent burials for this year. As of July, the city had spent $27,000 and interred 16 people’s remains, of which 13 had to be cremated because of budget constraints. The city is projecting 30 will take place by the end of the year. Marietta, according to Wikipedia, had a population of less than 15,000 in 2010.

Costly caskets

According to Smart Money, the average funeral costs $6,650. That includes a casket, but not a plot. That figure rose by 27 percent in the last 10 years. The average cremation is also getting more expensive, costing more than $3,000.

The IRS doesn’t allow writing off funeral expenses. Costs of a funeral and burial vary between funeral parlors and cemeteries and by region. Private cemeteries cost more than public ones. Be willing to shop on caskets, as the markup is usually about 300 percent. According to the Boston Globe, Walmart and Costco sell caskets and urns online.


USA Today


Wall Street Journal

Marietta Times


Internal Revenue Service

Boston Globe

Smart Money

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