Death may be a certainty; however, the stress associated with the costs of a funeral does not have to be, if plans are put in place to ease the financial burden, says Dr Damian Ffriend, Senior Manager – Sales, JN Life Insurance.

Dr Ffriend notes that in preparing for death, there are many things to consider, such as:

  1. Who are your dependents and how much money will be needed to take care of their financial needs for the remainder of their lives (aged dependents) or until they are able to provide for themselves (dependent children)?
  2. What is your total indebtedness to companies and individuals and how will that affect your loved ones, if you die without providing enough funds to clear those debts?
  3. Do you have real estate to pass on to your loved ones? Will they be able to pay the requisite taxes to have the properties transferred?
  4. What type of funeral do you want and what will be the cost? Is there likely to be unpaid medical expenses at the time of death?

Dr. Ffriend opined that, “the death of a loved one is often a very painful, emotional and traumatic experience, especially when the death was unexpected.  Therefore, we should try to ensure that it is not exacerbated by financial distresses caused by limited planning”.

He also explained that, a Family Indemnity Plan is a very affordable life insurance option to prepare for the final expenses of family members.  This is because up to six eligible members of a family can be covered for one small premium regardless of their age.

“The Family Indemnity Plan from JN Life  allows  coverage from a low of $400,000 to a high of $1,500,000 for each family member as well as Critical Illness and Accidental Death Insurance”, he added.

Mr Calvin Lyn, president of The Jamaica Association of Embalmers and Funeral Directors said the average cost of a funeral among members of the association is $300,000; however, this could be more or less, depending on the requests.

“The lowest cost funeral among the members is about $140,000 while the most expensive can be anywhere from $900,000 upwards. The $900,000 may include imported caskets and other special requests from the client regarding mode of transportation among other things,” he said.

Mr Lyn adds that although Jamaicans prefer burial as a way to send off their loved ones, some also prefer cremation.

“Cremation can be less expensive than burial; therefore, it should be given some thought.  Depending on the last request of your loved one, he or she may wish that the cremated remains be disposed of in a certain manner; and that would incur additional costs. But, if the family wishes for a normal cremation, it may work out to be less than a burial,” he added.

Mr Lyn suggests also that families should consider insurance and other payment options to cover funeral expenses.

“Some of our members offer packages where you pay for your funeral in advance. With this plan, you pay a set figure and the cost remains the same, even if the person dies years later. We find that some persons do this, because they want to be “sent off,” in a particular way,” he informed.

“Others have funds set aside in fixed accounts for when that time comes. However, we always encourage families to ‘stick with their budgets,’ when the time comes to plan a funeral,” he advised.