Planning a funeral can be tough. But whether you're preparing your own service or arranging one for a relative, knowing the costs involved is an important first step.
This guide will walk you through the typical costs associated with a funeral in Australia and will offer advice on where you might be able to get some financial help.
How much does a funeral cost in Australia?
According to the government's Moneysmart website, private funerals typically cost somewhere in the region of $4,000 for a basic cremation up to $15,000 for a more elaborate burial.
If you can't afford to pay a funeral and the deceased person doesn't have enough money in their estate, the government will pay for a very basic funeral, which you'll still be able to attend.
Remember, the amount of money you spend on a person's funeral is in no way related to how much you love them or how much you'll miss them. Whether you spend $20,000 on a service or the state arranges the funeral, your loved one will still get a respectful send-off.
What costs are involved with a funeral?
Common costs associated with funerals include:
|Funeral Expense||Starting Price|
|Funeral director fee||$3,000|
|Transfer of deceased to funeral home||$300|
|Storage of deceased at funeral home||$150|
|Preparation of deceased||$200-$600|
|Burial services (graveside service)||$2,000|
|Cremation service (at crematorium)||$600|
|Cremation service with chapel service||$1,200|
*These prices are based on estimates given by funeral directors from across Australia and may vary due to a number of factors. We have tried to show the general starting price for these services based on our research.
How can I save on funeral costs?
First things first: there is nothing wrong with a cheap funeral. It's important to remember that the cost of a service has no relationship with how much a person was loved or will be missed. In fact, heaps of Aussies don't want an expensive send-off.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to reduce costs while still having a respectful send-off.
- Avoid peak times. Weekend services can be more expensive than funerals held on a weekday.
- Choose a cremation. Burials are more expensive than cremations.
- Reduce extras. Keep flowers, funeral cars and newspaper notices to a minimum.
- Compare providers. Get quotes from various funeral providers and ask for price lists.
Should I get funeral insurance?
Lots of Aussies, particularly seniors, take out funeral insurance so their families can focus on arranging a fitting farewell, rather than worrying about the cost of a service.
You pay a monthly fee and in exchange, your family receives a lump sum when you die, to cover the cost of your funeral. It typically suits people who struggle to save independently or can't find an affordable life insurance policy.
Remember, if you have a funeral insurance policy for a long time, you might end up spending more on premiums than you would have on a funeral. Thankfully, lots of insurers have a value promise, which means they'll pay out the same amount you put in or more, as long as you have your policy for at least 12 months.
How can I pay for a funeral?
If you want to be able to cover the cost of your own funeral, there are lots of ways to do it:
- Prepay. Most funeral directors let you prepay and even arrange your own funeral. However, if the company goes bust, you might not be able to get your money back.
- Savings. Put some money away every month with the aim of building a lump sum that your family can use for funeral costs.
- Superannuation. Your family may be able to use any money that's left in your super to pay for your funeral. However, it can take a while to access, so they might have to pay upfront first.
- Funeral bonds. An investment through a friendly society or life insurer. Funds are exempt from the pension income test but the funeral director may keep anything your family doesn't spend.
What happens if you can't afford a funeral?
If you or your family can't afford a funeral, don't worry, you won't have to go into debt just to pay for a respectful service. Usually, the state will pay for a basic cremation and funeral. Your loved ones will still be able to attend and collect the ashes.
Maybe. There are lots of different ways Australians can access financial help in order to pay for a funeral – some might apply to your situation, while others won't:
- Local health district. You can apply to your local health district for help if you're responsible for a funeral but are in financial hardship. However, any assistance will be provided after the funeral has taken place.
- Government benefits. You may be able to claim a bereavement payment if you and your partner receive a government allowance and your partner dies or if you receive a carer's allowance for an adult who dies. This isn't specifically designed for funeral costs, but it can help.
- Department of Veteran Affairs. If the deceased is a veteran, you may be able to get help with funeral expenses from the Australian Government Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA).
- Registered clubs. Some associations, including the Rotary Club and the Returned and Services League (RSL), may pay a small funeral benefit to help with the cost of a member's funeral. Trade unions may also pay a benefit.
- Low interest loans. There are a range of low-interest loans available on the market and even a no interest loan scheme (NILS), which is managed by a community organisation. Avoid costly payday lenders if you can.
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