You pay a lot to meet your maker almost anywhere in the United States, but some places are really pricey.
It costs on average somewhere between $2,124 and $7,422 to be buried or cremated in the United States, according to a new funeral cost data service.
However, on half of Long Island, among the most expensive of the New York City suburbs, it generally costs much more to die. That’s because two of its counties have the most expensive end of life expenses in the nation, according to Funeralocity.com.
Don’t Drop Dead on Long Island
In Nassau and Suffolk, the data base found the average cost for a full-service burial is $9,744 and an average cremation is some $3,547, the index said.
These end of life costs are 31 percent to 67 percent higher in Nassau and Suffolk counties than the national averages of the United States, Funeralocity said.
“It’s actually more expensive on Long Island than New York City,” says Funeralocity founder Ed Michael Reggie.
The Big Apple—Again Very Expensive
But New York City is also no bargain. Its average burial costs are $8,256. That’s about 11 percent higher than the national average, according to Funeralocity.
Staten Island, Queens and Manhattan are the priciest places to be interred, the survey found. They are respectively 19.9 percent, 14.1 percent and 12.6 percent higher than the national average.
Still, don’t head East to Long Island to die.
“It is very expensive in Nassau and Suffolk counties; many costs are high,” adds Michael Lanotte, executive director of the New York State Funeral Directors Association.
Why Relatives Pay Through the Nose
He spoke with several funeral home directors and said Long Islanders tend to have traditional attitudes toward burials. In these two counties, Lanotte added, most tend to want all the burial services, which drives up costs.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as part of its funeral rule, says consumers should buy only the services they want.
“You have the right to buy separate goods—such as caskets—and services such as embalming or a memorial service. You do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want,” the FTC wrote. For instance, the FTC said some states don’t require embalming.
The First Ever?
Funeralocity’s Reggie, who collected end of life costs in the nation’s 100 biggest metro areas, says the end of life online cost index is the first national database.
Reggie adds that some funeral directors “have a sales mentality.” So, his index information is vitally needed, Reggie says.
“It’s because people often passively accept these prices without understanding that there are other alternatives,” Reggie says.
Lanotte isn’t sure the Funeralocity service is the first. Be he said that, as a general resource along with other research, it might help.
Pre-Planning Makes Sense
And Reggie and Lanotte are in agreement on one point: Burial or cremation pre-planning is essential to avoid overpaying. Then it is done without emotion, they say, so the bereaved are much more likely to obtain the best prices.
Funeral directors, the FTC says, “must give you price information on the telephone if you ask for it.” The government agency says funeral homes aren’t required to mail price lists, but many do and some post them on line.
So, as with many other things, it makes sense to have a plan before you shop. As I have previously detailed in these pages and in our “MoneySense” book, sometimes just doing a little research can make a big difference. A few extra phone calls can often save you a lot of money in most circumstances.
Planning for the Extraordinary
Still, the death of a loved one isn’t “most circumstances.”
Often you can’t think clearly then for obvious reasons. So, take the advice of the pros, plan now for end of life costs.