What Are Cash Advance Items in Funerals?

Funeral Costs

Posted on July 01, 2014 by Cindy Phan

A cash advance in funeral planning is money you pay in advance to the funeral home to cover charges of certain items or services obtained from third party vendors. The funeral home may make these purchases on your behalf, and then pay the vendors with the money you have given them. The items, services, amount you spend is entirely up to you, as it is you who decides what is necessary and what isn’t.

Under The Funeral Rule, funeral homes are allowed to apply a mark-up for these cash advance items, but if they do they must clearly note this on the provided GPL (General Price List). The exact amount or percentage of the mark-up made by the funeral home, however, does not need to be explicitly stated by the funeral home. It is important for you to inquire with the funeral home on whether the cash advance items passing through them from third-party vendors are the exact prices, or have been marked-up. 

The Funeral Rule also establishes that when there happens to be any refunds, rebates, or discounts applied to cash advance items, the funeral home must disclose the information to you, the consumer. Here is a list of some common cash advance items and services related to funeral preparations:

Death Certificate(s)

It is often recommended that you purchase multiple copies. Typically, as part of the Basic Service Fee, the funeral home will help you obtain copies of the death certificate.  However, the actual costs of the death certificate, which is determined by the state or municipality, is not covered by the Basic Service Fee. The funeral director will let you know how much each one costs and you will need to pay for those in advance.  You may need death certificates for life insurance policies, social security, stocks, bonds, banks, etc so it is better to order more than less so as to avoid having to order additional copies at a future date.

Flowers Obituary / Death Notice

This covers the cost of placement in a newspaper or online.  Commonly, most people get a death notice which is a formal announcement of a person’s passing. The obituary entails the life story in memorandum of the deceased and is an optional addition, usually at the discretion of the newspaper.

Church or Venue Charges 

The fee you pay for use of a church, other related religious establishments or halls, especially for a funeral viewing or service.

Officiating Clergy 

In addition to any fees for use of another establishment, the Clergy may have their own fee.  If you have your own clergy, this is usually given as a donation to the church/synagogue/hall.  If you don't, you can hire an independent practitioner for which they will set their own fee.

Cemetery Charges

The cost of the plot or niche (for cremated remains), plus the opening and closing of the grave is separate than the funeral home's charges.  The prices may vary for adult, juvenile, infant, or family plot. Depending on the cemetery/situation, you may also be charged for the removal of excess dirt if the burial space is covered by a concrete slab that has to be removed (from a prior interment), or marker relocation for a grave opening.

Crematory Fee

This is the actual charge of the cremation which is sometimes not included in the list of prices for cremation services (be sure to ask your funeral director for specifications of cremation charges)

Hairstylists Pallbearers

You may use your own friends and family, however if you choose not to, the funeral home will help you acquire the services of pallbearers.

Reception or Catering Clothes for the deceased

Often times, the deceased is buried with their own clothes, but you may purchase or select new ones, whether from the funeral home, a different store, or even a thrift store.

Specialty music

Depending on the nature or style of your funeral, these cash advance items may vary in price; so as with the rest of your funeral choices, be sure to ask questions and stay within your own budget.