The Final Cost: Financing a Funeral

The Final Cost: Financing a Funeral
Death is difficult. At this time, mourning and money should be two separate concerns.
Legal&Tax’s Funeral Plan can be a caring companion at this time of pain. Instead of tying its members down into specific service providers, Legal&Tax pays out in cash immediately.
Funeral cover planning

This provides loved ones the freedom to use the money according to what is needed most. Therefore, although death is a difficult aspect to face, having a funeral pay-out plan does also allow you to decide in advance about how best you would want funeral costs to be arranged. While funeral costs vary a lot according to cultural traditions and religious rites, estimates range from R10 000 to over R100 000.

Costs to take into consideration

Burial or cremation

Depending on your cultural background, the first choice you might need to make is between burial or cremation.

Burial is when a body is placed in the ground, usually in some kind of coffin, whereas cremation is where  body is put in a fire and the ashes are either kept or scattered.

Overall, cremation is usually a cheaper option – with average fees in South Africa estimated at about R5 000.

If you want the ashes placed in a more expensive or decorative urn, this would increase the cost of a cremation.

Burials costs will be determined by where the burial will take place. Purchasing a grave site depends on which cemetery is used. The costs often varies by area, with rural areas generally being cheaper than urban ones. 

Choice of coffin or casket

The second aspect of a burial would be the choice of coffin or casket. This choice might be determined by a cultural background but in general coffins are priced anywhere from R1 000 to R15 000.

Burial costs

This would range widely depending on if the funeral is being organised by an undertaker or religious authority.

Undertaker fees range average at around R4 500 and the actual burial costs also average at just slightly less.

Type of service

Another cost to consider is if you want a memorial or funeral service to accompany your burial or cremation.

A funeral service is when people are present at your burial or cremation while a memorial service is one that takes place at a separate time.

These can be religious or non-denominational (not religious) services. They might include just a few loved ones or include hundreds of community members.

Venue of service

Holding the service at home might save venue costs, but perhaps tents and seating might then need to be hired, depending on the number of people invited.

If the ceremony is at a religious site such as a church, find out if there is a hall attached, that perhaps you can use.

Otherwise you might want to choose a venue that connects to some part of the deceased’s life – such as a beach, or park that they loved.  However, you will need to contact the municipality to see if it is possible to hold a private ceremony at these sites.

Food and other service items

Depending on how many guests you are having, you will need to decide on what kind and how much food you will provide.  If it is a very small gathering, the family might be able to provide the food themselves; however, if you are going to have many guests, then you will probably need to get an outside caterer.  Make sure to get a quote from them beforehand so that you know if you afford the amount they charge.

Some cultures also require there to be traditions like having an animal slaughtered. Take this into account when working out costs.

Other costs to consider are whether you want programmes to be printed, need to buy special clothing for loved ones, want decorations of some kind or to hire someone to play music.


Another cost to think about is transport.

Firstly, if a person dies in a different place to where they want to be buried, you will need to pay the costs of repatriation (moving their body). This can be very expensive, especially if borders between countries need to be crossed.

Secondly, there might be the costs related to family members travelling to the funeral. This amount will depend on how they travel, for example via taxi, bus, plane or private vehicles, how far they must travel, as well as how many people need this transportation.

Transportation fees can vary from hundreds of rand to tens of thousands.  Make sure you have thought about all these possibilities when calculating funeral costs.


For many cultures, the final honour given to the deceased is having a headstone or tombstone placed to mark their grave.  These stones can cost on average from R1 500 to R7 000 – but prices even go into the R10 000s depending on the design and type of stone used.

Even though this is a cost that is usually paid for after the funeral, don’t forget to budget for it.

Find out more about a funeral policy from Legal&Tax

Remember, your companion to ensuring dignity in death is Legal&Tax Services. Contact our experts for advice on our funeral plans that bring peace of mind to loved ones left behind.

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