Paying for a Funeral

Funeral Assistance Programs

Social Assistance Programs or Welfare Funeral Benefits

Funerals today are very expensive and not everyone is able to afford them. Because of this some states offer burial or cremation assistance or benefits for indigent persons or families without a means to pay for funeral expenses for a loved one who received welfare of social service benefits.

If the deceased was part of a social assistance or welfare benefit program, there is a good chance that the state they live in also has a program that will help you pay for a funeral.  This is usually called an "indigent burial". In this case, the state government will help you pay in full or in part for the funeral. We compiled a list of known funeral assistance programs across the United States.

Depending on what state you are from you may receive cash benefits through welfare or social assistance to help with your funeral needs.  

*Be sure to read the fine print for each state for additional eligibly requirements.

Crime Victims Assistance and Compensation

Deaths that result from any variation of homicide may qualify you or your family for Crime Victim Assistance and Compensation. The loss of income, the cost of the funeral, and even the expenses for counseling may be covered if you qualify for the crime victims assistance and compensation program.

Auto Insurance Coverage for Funeral Expenses

in instances where the cause of death of the deceased was automobile related there is a chance your auto insurance, or the auto insurance of the other party, will cover all or part of your funeral costs through the use of PIPNo-fault coverage, or accidental death coverage policies.

Infant Funeral Assistance

In most states, you have the option of caring for your child at home and without the care of a funeral director, which can help reduce funeral costs. If you choose to use the services of a funeral director, know that some locally-owned funeral homes and cemeteries offer burial and cremation services for babies at a discounted price or free of charge. Do not hesitate to inquire with several local funeral homes to see what accommodations they will make. In addition, financial aid assistance is available to those in need and are offered by the following organizations:

The Tears Foundation a nonprofit organization, aims to lift any financial or emotional burdens following the death of a child. They offer free support groups and provides funding for current infant funeral and burial expenses for families in need.

Angel Names Association offers programs designed to ease the financial burden burden following a stillbirth and provides support. The Securing End-of-Life Expenses (SEOLE) program provides needy families assistance with autopsy, funeral, burial and cremation expenses and the Grief Recovery Assistance Program (GRASP) provides funding and assistance to uninsured families seeking counseling services following a stillbirth.

SIDS Foundation, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Foundation, provides short-term assistance to individuals and families suffering an emergency hardship due to the sudden loss of a child to SIDS.

Raise Money for a Funeral With Crowdfunding

A funeral or memorial fund is a personal donation site where people can honor the memory of your loved one with a contribution towards the funeral or memorial expenses. There are a variety of platforms available, like Deposit a Gift and WeCare Card, that allow you to setup a campaign in minutes (see our platform comparison) providing you with a simple link to print in an obituary and share via email or social media. Now when friends and family offer to help, you’ll be ready with a real way to lend a hand. Simply ask them to donate online and help spread the word by sharing the link. 

Learn more about crowdfunding for funerals and memorials and compare crowdfunding platforms in these articles on Crowdfunding for Funeral and Memorials.

Options for Keeping Funeral Costs Low

Planning a funeral can get pricey. The fees for hiring a funeral director, having a service, buying a casket, and anything else you want for your loved ones can add up. The average full-service funeral in America in 2012 topped $12,000 including cemetery plots and fees.

We've made a list of some alternatives to help you save money for your loved one’s send off. Read on below and click on each option to learn more.

Seek Advice from the Funeral Consumer Alliance

Another great resource for navigating the funeral planning process is to contact your local Funeral Consumer Alliance who can give you advice and guidance on individual state laws and assistance available.  As the local experts, they can steer you in the right direction to have a meaningful funeral for yourself or your loved one no matter what your budget is.

Click here to find a Funeral Consumer Alliance Affiliate close to you.

Body Donation

Body donation is another great way to save money on a funeral.  When you donate your body the organization you donate your body to absorbs most, if not all, of the costs of donating your body and the subsequent cremation.  There is a a feel good factor as well - by donating your body you are also helping advance medical technology and teach aspiring doctors.  Click the following link if you have more questions about saving costs and saving lives via body donation in lieu of a traditional funeral.

Veterans Burial Benefits

If you or your loved one is an honorably discharged veteran, you are likely eligible for veteran burial benefits.  These benefits include getting a free burial plot in a national cemetery including opening and closing costs or a burial allowance  to cover funeral costs.  You are also entitled to a burial flag, government headstone,  and a presidential memorial certificate.  Here is a link to an article dedicated to the ins and outs of veteran burial benefits.

Direct Cremation and Direct Burial

Direct burial and direct cremation can save a ton of money compared to a "traditional" funeral.  Direct cremation saves a lot of money because you don’t have to pay for expenses like embalming, a viewing, a casket, or a burial plot with opening and closing fees.  You can still have a memorial service for your loved one at the time of cremation or at a later date in a meaningful place for the deceased.

Direct burial saves money by getting rid of the unnecessary cost of embalming, viewing, and time required by the funeral home to host the extra services and viewing.  Typically a direct burial is held graveside and still entails a service that can be hosted by the family, clergy, a celebrant, or the funeral director.

The good thing about both options is that you can have a meaningful ceremony that honors the life of the deceased whenever and wherever you want.  Here are the definitions of direct cremation and direct burial courtesy of the I'm Sorry To Hear Glossary.

Home Funeral

You can skip the cost of funeral homes all together by having a home funeral.  To have a home funeral you just need to pay for death certificates, a burial plot, and a casket.  Home funeral guides often operate on a volunteer or donation basis to assist you in preparing and honoring your loved one after they die.  You can find a home funeral guide by visiting the National Home Funeral Alliance website and reading more about home funerals and home funeral guides in our prior article.

Green Burials

In past articles we have talked about green burials and how they are able to help the environment.  Green burials are also helpful for your wallet.  By going green you can save yourself from many of the expensive funeral costs.  Two ways to go green and save money when paying for a funeral are:

1. skip embalming

2.  seek a cemetery that doesn't require use of a burial liner or a burial vault (natural burial grounds are great for this!)

On average if you cut these two expenses you can save around $1,900.  Here is a link to our past blog about green burials.

At least one of the above options are available to help you pay for the cost of a funeral.  Be sure to explore all options to find the one that best meets your family's needs and help you avoid an unnecessary financial burden when it comes time to pay for a funeral for yourself or your loved one.

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