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The price of dying: Cost of funerals on the rise

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MACON, Ga. (WGXA) -- The average cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial in 2017 was $7,360. For a cremation, it was $6,260, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

There are the flowers, the casket, the plot of land, the chapel - and the list goes on of things families have to pay for when a loved one dies.

Robert Daniels' 28-year-old nephew was killed in a car accident more than a year ago.

“The family did not have the money for a traditional burial, but they all wanted one," Daniels said. "They just didn’t have the money to afford one."

The pain of losing a child was hard on them.

So, Daniels took it upon himself to figure out how they would pay for a respectable funeral. That's when cremation came to mind.

“We are cutting out the costs," Daniels said. "You know, you don’t have to pay for a funeral plot, you don’t have to pay for a vault."

Daniels wanted to make sure no family ever went through what his did. So he decided he would start his own cremation service in Macon - Daniels Removal, Transport and Mortuary Storage Service.

“When you go through it as a family and you see the results of it...," Daniels said.

Macon-Bibb Coroner Leon Jones said he sees families who can't pay for a funeral almost every week.

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“We are all going to die," Jones said. "We don’t know when, we don’t know how, we don’t know what time one should leave. But no person that dies should leave a financial burden on the next of kin."

Regardless of your age or health, Jones said you need to have a funeral plan set, as well as life insurance.

“Some people say, 'Well, that’s morbid,'" Jones said. "Well, that’s life. Nobody lives forever. People need to know these things - plan your funeral before you die."

In cases where a family has no financial assets, the Macon Division of Family and Children Services can provide up to $700 in Financial Assistance. This money is used for a cremation.

WGXA checked out the prices at a local funeral home. Milton Heard with Harts Mortuary said funerals have changed drastically over the last 20 years.

“Almost a cookie cutter service," Heard said. "Every service was very similar. It didn’t take long to make arrangements. Now, everything is completely individualized."

With a more customizable service, the prices at Harts have a large range.

“A funeral can range very drastically," Heard said. "Even for a burial, if you get a $865 casket versus a $20,000 casket - so there can be a wide range."

Daniels hopes people have one take away from his experience.

“You definitely need to have some type of life insurance," he said. "Because it can make or break your loved ones once you pass."

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