2021 Survey – Are Seniors Prepared For Their Final Expenses?

63% of seniors prefer to be cremated as opposed to buried, according to a new report by Seniors Mutual. But what is behind the rise in popularity of cremations?

“Cost is a driving factor,” said Mike Nicodemus, licensed funeral director and vice president of cremation services for the National Funeral Directors Association. “We live in a very transient time now,” he added.

Seniors Mutual wanted to find out how well seniors are prepared for their end of life expenses and what their plans were to pay for it, including what they planned on leaving behind for their family. Here’s what we found.

What Will Happen To Your Body?

First we asked seniors what they preferred to happen to their body when they die. While a traditional funeral and burial use to be the most popular option, cremations have overtaken them in recent years.

Traditional funerals and burials double in price every 7-10 years, far outpacing inflation in the CPI.

With the huge inflation in not only burial costs, but in college loan debt, healthcare, and housing, it’s no wonder more seniors are turning to cremation as an option.



Insurance Or No Insurance?

A common method to pay for all final expenses is a small life insurance policy called burial insurance. While there are many ways to pay for your cremation or burial, we wanted to see just how many people had insurance coverage in the event they died today.

Results show only about 24% of seniors have a burial life insurance policy to pay for their final expenses. This leaves many with finding another option to pay for their final expenses, or passing on that financial burden to their kids or other family.



Paying For Final Expenses

While cremations are definitely cheaper than a traditional burial, the average cremation today is still over $4,500. So how are seniors looking to pay for these expenses?

While many people had a plan to either self pay (41%) or leave funds to their beneficiaries through burial life insurance (42%), there were still a good number of people (15%) that had no plan to pay for all of their final expenses.

We should also note that many people who are going to self pay end up coming short if they have not pre paid for the service.



Do Seniors Have Their Will?

Another very important part of planning for your final expenses is having your will in order. Everyone had heard about families fighting for years because there was a dispute in the will.

In order to properly prepare to leave this world every seniors should have a will. So how many really have this taken care of? Look like only 52% of seniors said they had a will in order.

While many people know they will need a will eventually, almost half do not have one. Room for improvement.

Summary

Due to the rising cost of many vital areas of life like healthcare and housing, many seniors are turning to cremation as a cheaper option. While cremations are a great way to save money, it is a concern that rising inflation is forcing seniors to choose cremation over a traditional funeral and burial.

Also, while the majority of seniors are either going to self pay or use life insurance to pay for their final expenses, the odds of them saving enough to cover it is pretty slim.

Furthermore, almost half of all seniors don’t have a will to give them and their family peace of mind about what will happen to all of their assets and belongings.

Methodology

We asked 109 random seniors about their plans and views on end of life expenses and their plan to pay for it. We also asked them their experience and plan for a will and their preference on a traditional burial or cremation.

Below are the age and gender breakdowns.