How much does it cost to die in California?

According to the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the average cost of a funeral has increased by nearly 40% over the past 10 years, making funerals one of the costliest purchases for individuals in the U.S. Information from the National Funeral Directors Association places the average costs for a funeral at between $8,000 and $10,000.

How much it costs to die in California is about more than just the funeral costs. Associated fees can include:

  • Probate fees
  • Executor fees
  • Accounting fees and taxes
  • Legal fees

This becomes especially problematic if the deceased died without a will or estate planning. The California laws of intestate succession come into play and a lot of time and money are involved in settling the estate of the deceased.

Is that figure higher than you expected?

The cost of dying in California can create real financial burdens for your loved ones. In addition to the funeral home expenses, all the other additional costs involved with settling an estate can add up and lead to a real financial crisis for some families.

Therefore, it’s important to plan ahead for your funeral so that you can budget accordingly. If you choose to prepay for your funeral, inform your family and leave detailed instructions for them. Some tips that may help to keep the costs more reasonable are:

  • Get itemized price lists from several funeral homes and “comparison shop”
  • Find out what is included in their basic services fee
  • Consider paying third party providers like florists, limousine companies, and cemeteries yourself
  • Compare cemetery costs and visit the cemetery and specific gravesite of your choice
  • Sign a contract with the cemetery concerning level of maintenance, plot location, and price
  • Research the price differences between traditional burial options vs cremation

Just as important as planning for your funeral is making sure that your family and other loved ones won’t have to deal with the stressful, time-consuming, and costly probate process after your death.

Here’s how you can prepare yourself

One way to reduce some of the costs associated with dying in California is to make a living trust, an estate planning tool which lets you direct how your assets are managed and spent during your lifetime, if you should become incapacitated, and after your death. One of the most important benefits to setting up a living trust is that it saves your family the expense and inconvenience of probate after your death. With a living trust, you have the option of making changes to the provisions during your lifetime if and when the need arises.

The Law Office of David W. Foley, located in San Diego, specializes in estate planning, living trusts, and trust administration. Our experienced attorneys can help you to provide for your loved ones by setting up your living trust and selecting a trustee to manage it. Contact our office for more information about establishing a living trust.

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