Avoid being buried by funeral costs

Last updated 05:00 02/03/2014
Funeral casket
FINAL DESTINATION: Funerals are costly events, so it pays to be prepared.

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The cost of a funeral can add to what is often already a stressful time.

With funerals commonly costing north of $8000, there are a variety of options you can explore to limit the expense.

If you plan ahead, you can either pay in advance or make regular instalments towards the total cost.

It's worth checking your life insurance policy, as it may include a payout for funeral costs. Otherwise, you can simply start up a savings account at your bank.

Other options include funeral insurance, a funeral trust or a prepayment plan with a funeral director. These generally come with various fees and restrictions, so it's worth seeking independent financial advice.

If you're on a low income, you may be eligible for a funeral grant from Work and Income, though this grant (around $2000) is not designed to cover the full cost.

ACC can provide a grant for someone who died as a result of an accident, a work-related disease or infection, or medical treatment.

Other options to reduce the costs include getting a couple of quotes from funeral directors, and making sure you're clear about your financial limits.

You should also make sure that you know exactly what you are paying for, and be aware of any hidden charges.

Finally, you may be able to save money by providing your own flowers and catering, choosing not to have a service, or conducting it yourself at home.

Dr Andrew Hubbard is national research and policy advisor at the Citizens Advice Bureau.

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