Final Expense Insurance

Reduce Family Stress with Final Expense Insurance

Leaving the world on your own terms

Few people want to think about or plan their own death, burial or funeral. However, planning for your end of life now may reduce a very large emotional and financial burden from your loved ones at their greatest moment of grief.

Planning includes items like simplifying finances and banking, organizing important papers like titles to property, and leaving instructions that indicate how you would like to be remembered or memorialized.

Burial insurance typically pays benefits directly to the funeral home to offset your burial costs. Final expense insurance, in contrast, is a whole life insurance policy that pays directly to your beneficiary. Final expense insurance may eliminate any remaining debt, pay for the funeral, and possibly leave something extra for your family.

Senior couple making plans for their funeral

Important steps to take today to prepare for your final expenses

We want to help you leave the world on your own terms and not burden your loved ones with distracting details. To do so, it means that you take steps today that can help you get more out of your life in whatever remaining time you have. We suggest you follow our five-step end of life planning process. Keep reading to learn more about each step.

  1. Make every day count
  2. Simplify your life
  3. Organize your finances
  4. Plan for your funeral or memorial
  5. Consider how to pay for all final expenses

Make every day count

As we approach the end of our lives, it can be a time to celebrate the accomplishments of a lifetime. For most of us, our biggest accomplishment is raising a family and watching them have children of our own. Think about the messages you would like to leave them after you are gone. Then, take time now to tell them how you feel now. Enjoy this time and make sure you have no regrets when it is too late. Take the vacation. Check off things off your bucket list. Visit your kids. Write the emails or create a video or notes you wish your parents had left you and send them today.

make every day count

Simplify your life

Simplify your life

Simplifying your life often starts by simplifying your house. How many boxes do you have in your basement, attic, or storage unit? Have you packed away family heirlooms in hard to find places? Do you have extra furniture stacked in the corner? Do you really need the old clothes hanging in your closets? What if you are keeping valuable collections and your family thinks they are junk?

You probably haven’t cleaned out your house because the task seems daunting. However, if it seems too hard for you, imagine the enormity of the task for your children or grandchildren. You may want to even hire a professional organizer to help you.

As Marie Kondo, author of Spark Joy, said, “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” Start reducing the burden of the past today. Give those sentimental items to the people who will value them the most. Reclaim the space in your house for the way you want to live in the coming years. Your children will thank you later.


Organize your finances

Organize your finances1 so you could hand the responsibility to a trusted friend or family member tomorrow. Give yourself ample time for this task. Don't try to do it all in one day.

However, do not wait too long to complete this. Unfortunately, given the rise in dementia and Alzheimer’s, you realistically may need to pass this responsibility to someone well in advance of your death.

We suggest that you start by keeping all financial materials in one place in your house. They should be arranged in a way that someone who is trusted can easily find the following:

Organizing finances for death

Critical Financial Documents for End of Life

  • Your Social Security and Medicare numbers
  • Recurring bills that either need to be paid or cancelled.
  • Especially include bills that you receive on an annual or semi-annual basis, like insurance, that may prove critical in your final days
  • Last statements from all of your banks, savings, 401(k), or brokerage accounts so someone easily understands what money is available to pay bills
  • Checkbooks to pay any necessary expenses and keys to safety deposit boxes or storage units
  • Bank statements with transfer on death designee so that that your beneficiary can have quick access to money
  • Important papers necessary for property transfer such as titles to a house, condo, or car.
  • Don’t forget any insurance policies or details from pension plans that may provide benefits at death
  • Passwords to computers and all online accounts, especially including Facebook
  • A will, living will, any advance directives, and power of attorney to legal and health issues
  • The name of a trusted member of your family or a trusted friend as a beneficiary in the event of death with all institutions where you have assets
  • Inventory of your non-liquid assets such as artwork, books, stamps collections, jewelry or other collectibles with estimated values
  • List of people who should be notified upon your death including other doctors
  • Names and numbers of all three major credit reporting companies to prevent fraud

Planning your burial, funeral or memorial service

How do you want to be remembered? Last wishes have changed dramatically over the years. Today, cremation is now more popular than a traditional burial. That said, people can choose over 20 different ways for their body to be handled after death. What do you prefer? Take your memorial into your own hands.

make every day count

Write your own obituary today. The media actively writes obituaries of famous people in advance, because this task can be very time consuming if left to the end. Give your children a similar headstart. You know names, dates, places, jobs, and accomplishments better than your children.

Imagine how you want your family to celebrate your life. Do you want a traditional religious service? Do you want a small, graveside memorial? Or just food and drinks to celebrate the memories? Think about the event and describe it in a document.

Think ahead about those who will still need help. Do you have any special responsibilities for children or grandchildren that you need to assign to others? Perhaps you want to designate money to go their education fund.

Imagine where you want your pet to live. Do you want to give it to a friend or a family member? Or is there a shelter or organization you would like to give your animal companions to.

Decide what should happen to your body. Prefer a traditional burial? If cremated, where would you like your ashes to go? Or is a celebration with fireworks in order?

What is the difference between final expense and pre-need life insurance?

Final expense life insurance

Your family will be the beneficiary of a final expense insurance policy from any insurance company. They can choose to use the money for any purpose, including, but not limited to your final expenses, medical bills, or transportation costs to the funeral of out of state family members. Some companies offer additional riders with extra benefits

Pre-need burial insurance

A pre-need burial policy is purchased directly from a funeral home. The funeral home will give you the cost and you will need to pay ahead of time. Be careful when choosing because it may provide only fixed coverage. As time passes, the cost for funeral may increase and your loved ones will be responsible for the difference. The Federal Trade Commission who governs the funeral business offers a helpful checklist when shopping for pre-need funeral policies


Consider how to pay all final expenses

Think about all of your final expenses that your survivors may incur.1 This will, of course, include the actual funeral services. People sometimes think only about the cost of the funeral itself.

However, they may also include paying off your debts. If you owe money, the debts will transfer upon death to your estate. Someone may have to pay these bills depending on your individual circumstance.

In addition, settling an estate can take time. Many bills, such as taxes, condo fees, and utilities may need to be paid for several months while this materializes.

You may also want to make travel and hotel arrangements for family members. This could allow your executor or family to clean up your home and make any estate sales without causing them financial strain.

make every day count

Actual Funeral Costs

The sheer number of decisions involved in paying for a funeral can be daunting. In fact it can prove so overwhelming that the Federal Trade Commission actually issued regulations that require a funeral home to provide your survivors with an itemized statement of the total cost of the funeral goods and services you have selected when you are making the arrangements. The rules do allow the funeral home to charge one fee for basic services. To get a sense of the decisions that will made, see the list with estimated costs below.

Burial Clothes

$170 to $400

Burial Shroud

$195 to $1,000

Burial Vaults Costs

$2,200 to $14,000


$50 to $12,000


$50 to $500

Death Certificate

$11 to $13


$225 to $1,212


$100 to $600

Funeral Ceremony

$200 to $1,425

Basic Services

$480 to $3,000

Grave Markers & Monuments

$500 to $7,000

Grave Opening and Closing

$300 to $1,000

Grave Plot

$400 to $10,000

Grave Site Set Up

$100 - ask

Graveside Service

$200 to $1,700

Guest Register Book

$25 to $80

Hearse or Funeral Coach

$150 to $530

Limousine or Lead Vehicle

$75 to $520


around $150


$0 to $600

Cosmetology, etc.

$50 to $363

Printed Programs

$40 to $80

Service Car or Flower Car

$75 to $510

Storage and Refrigeration

$35 to $100 per day

Temporary Burial Marker

around $20

Traditional Burial Package

$2,620 to 6,000

Transportation of the Body

$125 to $500


$80 to $2,000

Viewing Fees

$150 to $1,175

Estate Expenses

After you die, your beneficiary or estate's executor may need to take care of your property or estate for some time before respecting your final wishes. Here are some additional costs you should consider when calculating the cost of settling your estate.1



Mortgage/ rent

Paying for mortgage or rent until they are able to sell and clean out your home. In addition, they might not want to put the house on market in winter or holiday times


Utilities must be paid until property is cleaned out, rented or sold


The executor or beneficiary must keep the existing insurance on the property or transfer it to another policy

Cleaning cost of house/apartment

Your property will likely need be cleaned

Dumpster or junk removal

Your family will need to remove contents of your home and pay for disposal of all trash

Painting or fixing of property

A fresh coat of paint and needed repairs of your home will help your property quickly sell

Staging your house

Staging of home can help with resale of home to get the full potential value

Moving or storage costs

Your family may need to move your items to their home to another state and possibly rent a truck for the task


Beneficiaries will potentially have to pay property tax and income taxes for the year

Medical bills

You might incur most of your expenses in the final days of your life

Credit cards balances

Legally, the estate will be responsible for paying any outstanding balances

Get a Quote

Once you have estimated the costs at the end of your life, next think about the ways you can enable your survivors to pay for it. You should list all your assets and identify any gaps you can close. Sources of funds could include checking accounts, savings accounts, real estate, cars, or valuable.

Also, remember to factor in the cost of health care. Though the estimate continues to be refined by researchers, a generally accepted fact is that a person on average incurs 25% of all Medicare costs2in their last year of life. An unforeseen stay in a hospital could create a significant financial burden, depending on your health care insurance and the nature of the event.

Once you have completed this exercise, subtract all costs from the assets you own. Keep in mind that hard assets may generally take a longer time for your family to access than money in the bank.

Do you have enough money to cover all that your family will need during this time of grief? Final expense insurance may be an efficient way for many seniors to close any gap. It may also provide a relatively quick source of funds to help pay bills that will need to be quickly paid by survivors.

1The information above is intended for use by the general public and is not individualized to address any specific investment objective. It is not intended as investment or financial advice. We encourage you to consult with an advisor who can tailor a financial plan to meet your needs.

2Taking a Second Look at End-of-Life Medicare Health Costs AARP, 2018.

Important Disclosures

Phoenix Remembrance Life (12FEWL and ICC12FEWL) is issued by PHL Variable Insurance Company (PHLVIC) (Harford, CT). PHLVIC is not authorized to conduct business in Maine or New York. PHLVIC is a subsidiary of Nassau Re.

Nassau Re® is a registered trademark by Nassau Reinsurance LLC.

Withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax, and if taken prior to age 59½, a 10% tax penalty may also apply.

Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing company

Product features, rider options and availability may vary by state. Please consult with a financial representative regarding features and availability in your state

Administrative charge will apply upon rider election. The policy death benefit will be reduced when rider is exercised. Rider benefits are not long-term care. See product brochure for additional details.

Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing company. Product features, rider options and availability may vary by state.