Georgians aren’t financially prepared to deal with the death of a loved one, according to results from a Mid-Year 2015 Consumer Survey conducted by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA).
Seventy-four percent of respondents who had handled arrangements for a death in the family in the past three years said they didn’t feel adequately prepared or informed to manage the responsibility.
Today, the average cost for expenses associated with a funeral is estimated to be between $7,000 and $10,000, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
The cost of a traditional funeral in Georgia is about $4,500 without cemetery fees, according to U.S. Funerals Online. Additional goods and services such as a burial plot and headstone can add another $2,000 to $4,000.
A National Foundation for Credit Counseling poll in 2013 indicated 83 percent of respondents were either not prepared for the financial responsibilities of a funeral or had no idea what a funeral actually costs.
According to the GCUA survey, 49 percent of respondents said they’ve made their wishes known regarding their personal end-of-life issues. It’s a question of whether or not their loved ones can afford to follow through with those wishes.
“In a perfect world, families would have savings, life insurance, credit insurance and properly documented beneficiaries or trusts. Unfortunately, what we often see is only part or none of these things are in place before a death,” said Credit Union of Georgia President and CEO Brant Malone. “Even if there is some savings or insurance to cover funeral and burial costs, often there isn’t enough money to cover the additional medical bills or remaining loans the surviving family members become responsible for.”
Malone suggests talking to a financial institution right away following the death of a loved one.
“At Credit Union of Georgia – and I would imagine most credit unions – we work with members in every way possible to make these difficult times as easy as possible for them,” Malone said. “We help file insurance claims, refinance loans, assist with transferring deeds or titles, make small unsecured loans and even set up trusts or investment accounts for surviving children to ensure any insurance proceeds are protected and invested wisely.”
Malone notes credit unions are known for their helpfulness in times of need.
“It’s in our nature as credit unions in the spirit of family, community and service, to assist members – and even those who are not members – during difficult times,” said Malone. “The death of a loved one certainly is one of those times.”
Tips to manage funeral costs:
- Limit visitation. Although you may prefer to have visitation the day or evening before the funeral, if you’re willing, consider having it right before the funeral. Typically there should be a lower charge from the funeral home for that.
- Spend less on merchandise. Choose a less expensive casket, a plain vault or an urn made of man-made material.
- Opt for cremation. Cremation is usually a little less costly. This is because there is no fee for the burial of a casket, only a charge for the cremation process.
- Skip embalming. Though it is still a common procedure, embalming is rarely necessary; refrigeration serves the same purpose. In Georgia, there are no laws or regulations requiring embalming.
- Make plans ahead of time. The best way to save money on funeral costs is to plan ahead. Many funeral homes offer price guarantees to people who plan ahead of time and prepay. The accrued interest takes care of price increases and many funeral homes will guarantee they will not charge more than the principal and interest.
- To learn more about credit unions in your community and how they help people afford life, visit:http://www.asmarterchoice.org/.