Planning Ahead for Your Funeral Can Be Crucial to Your Family’s Finances

With inflation continuing to rise, nearly half of Canadians (46%) say they would not be able to cover funeral costs if they suffered a family bereavement.

According to the Seniors Choice 2024 Cost of Dying Report, the average cost of organizing a funeral in Canada today is $7,793, with 30 per cent of people spending more than $10,000.

While nine in ten (87%) Canadians believe the high cost of funerals is “adding significant stress” to bereaved families, over one-third (34%) of survey respondents have yet to set aside money to pay for one.

“The findings of our annual report underline how important it is to start thinking about how you’re going to pay for your funeral or that of a loved one,” says David Rees, Chief Operating Officer of Seniors Choice. “Planning a funeral is expensive, stressful and, for many, difficult to even discuss. However, being prepared for the inevitable can make a huge difference – financially and emotionally – to the family members and friends who will have to organize your funeral.”

Rising funeral costs

The cost-of-living crisis continued to cut into Canadian household budgets during 2023. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.9% during the year: a less dramatic increase than in 2022 (6.8%) but still the second largest annual increase since 1991, according to Statistics Canada. While inflation did not impact the average cost of a basic funeral ($4,037) over the past year, it was found to have a significant impact on some costs.

The average cost of limousines ($3,242), headstones or plaques ($3,157), and coffins or caskets ($2,869) were all more expensive in 2023. The average fee charged by a funeral director also rose to $2,741, up from $2,163 a year ago. According to that same Seniors Choice survey.

While every service is unique, the average burial funeral could exceed $17,000 when adding together the different individual elements, while a cremation could cost almost $14,000.

The value of an insurance policy

Over half (56%) of Canadians believe the cost-of-living crisis has made it less likely that they  could afford the ‘right’ funeral for a loved one. When asked how they covered funeral costs in the past, 59 per cent of survey respondents said they dipped into their savings, while 27 per cent used a credit card. Others borrowed money from friends, relatives and employers, or took out a payday loan.

Of those who paid for a funeral using an insurance policy, 81 per cent agreed with this statement: “I was able to plan the send-off my family member or loved one wanted because I could afford it with the insurance payout.”

“The best financial planning includes thinking ahead for both the expected and unexpected moments in life,” says Rees.  “Lifting the financial burden of organizing a funeral is one of the most valuable gifts you can leave behind. You will have peace of mind knowing your loved ones can manage expenses once you pass, and your family and friends will have more time to focus on planning the fitting tribute you deserve.”