Funeral and Burial Resources for low-income and uninsured families

Funeral resources for low-income or uninsured

If you are in immediate need of the lowest cost funeral available, you need to consider arranging a simple direct cremation service.

Call your local DFS Memorials provider by selecting your state and then city from the state list, which is either to the right or below. 

DFS Memorials does NOT offer any financial assistance, but we can help you connect with a local, low-cost cremation or funeral provider, offering packages starting from $596.

With very limited financial resources and support offered by a state or county, you may find yourself faced with the stress of arranging a funeral with very little money.  If this is the case then you may need to consider arranging a simple, low-cost direct cremation service.

The DFS Memorials network offers direct cremation service packages at a very low cost.  Prices vary by state and city, but direct cremation prices start at $596.  Use the state links on this page to find your nearest provider and their direct cremation service price.

If you are faced with the task and responsibility of arranging a funeral for a family member who has just died, and you are concerned about how you can afford the cost of the funeral, this guide can hopefully support you.

Today 76% of Americans coping paycheck to paycheck (CNN) and 25% below the poverty line, so there are many families who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having either no funds, or very limited means, by which to pay for a funeral. Especially if the death of a family member was unexpected and sudden.

What low cost funeral alternatives are there?

If you find yourself responsible for making funeral arrangements with no life insurance or burial insurance policy to help cover the costs, and you have little means to pay for a funeral, then you need to seek out the lowest cost funeral option.

There are significant ways that you can save on the expected cost for a full funeral service.  And there are also various resources that may help you reduce your funeral costs, or help contribute towards the overall funeral expenses.

What is the cheapest funeral alternative?

Cremation is certainly a lot cheaper than a burial, and direct cremation (otherwise referred to as an immediate cremation or basic cremation) is the least expensive disposition method.

This is where the cremation is conducted with no viewing, services or ceremony and the cremated remains are immediately returned to the family.  A simple cardboard cremation container is used, and the ashes are returned in a temporary container, unless a cremation urn is selected.

You can arrange a direct cremation service in many areas of the United States for under $1,000, in fact in many metro areas the price can be as low as $500 – $700.  Check out your nearest DFS Memorials provider to find out the lowest direct cremation cost near you.

Is there Public Aid for a Funeral?

Whilst some states do provide some financial support with funeral expenses for families on low income, disability or SSI, this is NOT consistent across all states.  Budgets for public aid funerals have also unfortunately been cut back by municipalities where budget spend requiring constraining.

To find out if there is any financial support in your area, you would need to inquire with your local county human services or social services department.  I have noted below the states that DO offer some financial support and the links to further information.

What is Indigent Burial Assistance?

The state is, of course, obligated to attend to indigent dispositions.  That is generally for those unfortunates who become the responsibility of the state and/or institutionalized.  Traditionally the state would arrange simple pauper burials in a designated area of a municipal cemetery.  Today these indigent burial assistance programs tend to offer direct cremation as a low-cost solution to dispose of these unclaimed dead.

Are there any Social Security Death Benefits to help cover the cost of a funeral?

There is a $255 lump sum Social Security death benefit that those who qualify can claim.  A funeral director can generally assist you make a claim.  This one-off payment of $255 is made to a surviving spouse or child. Monthly benefits may be available if one meets eligibility requirements.  You can contact Social Security on 1-800-772-1213   www.socialsecurity.gov

Do Veteran’s receive benefits to assist with funeral costs?

A veteran is entitled to free burial in a national cemetery. This includes gravesite, opening and closing of the grave and perpetual care for an honorably discharged veteran, spouse, or dependent child and a free headstone or grave marker.

Contact the Veteran’s Affairs Office on 1-800-827-1000 for more information.

Is there help for victims of crime to cover funeral expenses?

In each state, there is a fund set up to financially assist the victims of crime to cover funeral expenses.

Contact your local Crime Victim Compensation Program to find out what help you can get.

What about Funeral financing?

Whilst we do not advocate that anyone should have to incur a debt to pay for a funeral, this is sadly an option that is being peddled to many families today.  Of course, as with any other financing, you must pass the credit check requirements.

There are generally two ways funeral finance is offered – firstly a funeral home may work with a funeral loan company and offer your finance terms, or there are a few finance companies that will work directly with a family to finance a funeral.

Finance for a funeral is NOT easy to come by, largely as it is not an appealing product/service for a finance house to offer credit on.  Once a funeral is complete, there is quite a high chance of families defaulting on their loan and it is not that easy to repossess a corpse!

Help from Charity Organizations to pay for a funeral

There are some charitable trusts that make offer a grant or some financial help with funeral expenses.  You can check this resource for searching a charity grants database.

Help from Trade Union Organizations to cover funeral expenses

Some Trade Union organizations will offer a financial contribution to assist a former member, or the spouse of a member, some assistance with meeting funeral expenses.  If you, or you spouse, was a member of a union, it would be well worth investigating if you can claim any assistance.

cremation-helpHow Fund-raising can help pay for funeral expenses

Fund-raising events to help a family pay for a funeral have long been a community way to rally together and help an unfortunate family pay to bury their lost loved one.  However, as more families have suffered hardship in recent years, there has not been as much disposable money to go around, even when families want to help out.

There are now a few online fund-raiser web sites that will allow you to start a fund-raising campaign for a funeral.

Visit 911Funeral to start a fund-raising campaign.

Hopefully the advice we have briefly outlined in this article will provide useful resources to help you find some help paying for a funeral.

State Assistance:  Contact departments

CT – Dept of Social Services

DC – Dept of Human Services

MA – The Commonwealth of MA

MD – Dept of Human Resources

ME – ME General Assistance Program

NH – NH Welfare Dept

NJ – Dept of Human Services

NY – Human Resources Dept

PA – Dept of Public Welfare

RI – RI General Public Assistance

VA – Health & Human Services

VT – Agency of Human Services

WV – Dept of Health & Human Resources

Funeral Poverty Crisis Affecting Families

indigent-funeral-assistanceRecent reports in the news are attempting to highlight the growing concern about thousands of families that are too poor today to afford a funeral.  A report from the UK claims that those unable to pay for a funeral has skyrocketed by 80% in the last 10 years, and this issue is no different here in the United States.  According to a CBS report in 2011 48% of Americans fell into the bracket of low-income or poverty.  This is a staggering percentage of Americans that find themselves struggling with everyday living costs…never mind dealing with an unexpected, or unprepared for, death in the family.

Every day at DFS Memorials we receive calls from families desperate and distraught as they try and find their way through the process of taking care of a lost loved one without sufficient means to really pay for a funeral.

So what happens if you do not have the money to pay for a funeral?

There are very limited resources available to help those families with insufficient resources to pay for a funeral.  Some states do provide some level of support and some do not.  In some states there is devolved funding at county level.  If you are on any kind of state-assisted welfare or benefits you may qualify for some limited assistance.

In most cases it is likely that you will have to arrange the lowest cost type of funeral that the funds will assist with.  This will mean arranging a basic cremation or a simple burial with minimal funeral services.

Will the State help you cover funeral costs?

If you are fortunate enough to be in a state or county that does offer some assistance, you will find that it does only cover a limited amount.  There is also generally a limitation of the level of family contribution. i.e. you cannot claim funds for an indigent funeral and then have family members all contribute funds.  Use this table for a state by state breakdown of what is available to assist families with an indigent burial.

Bear in mind that although most states still refer to ‘indigent burial programs’ in many states only cremation is now offered as this is far more economical and helps the state, or county, use their budget effectively.

What are the implications of accepting state assistance for a funeral?

When you turn to the state or municipal to pay for a funeral, then you cannot expect the full range of services or much autonomy over what kind of services are available.  In some cases only a basic direct cremation or direct burial is offered as a public aid disposition.

There are also limitations on how much family members can contribute towards the overall funeral cost.

What if the deceased had no life insurance, and surviving family have no money to pay for the funeral?

If there is no life insurance to meet funeral expenses, and you do not qualify for any kind of public assistance, you will have to meet a decision about how to meet any funeral costs.  As mentioned a basic cremation can be conducted in most areas for around $800.  If family can rally round, and make contributions, it may be possible to pool funds and meet a basic disposition.  A simple family memorial service, or ash-scattering service, can be held once the cremated remains are back with the family.

To read more about what options you have to arrange a low-cost funeral service, read this article on Indigent Burial Assistance and assistance for funeral funding.

State Assistance for Funerals: What help is available from state budgets for funeral costs for those who cannot afford a funeral?

The reality for many families in the United States today is that a funeral can mean a financial crisis.  With 76% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, 25% living below the poverty line, and 35% in debt recovery, these really are hard times for many average hard-working Americans!  The story is a familiar one, working two jobs, juggling mortgage, utility and car payments, seeking out deals wherever money can be saved and hoping that nothing comes along unexpectedly to disrupt this fine balance!

cremation-costsWho is responsible for paying the funeral bill?

If the deceased died without a funeral plan, money in his/her estate, or a life insurance policy, then the immediate next of kin (and generally the person making the funeral arrangements) becomes responsible for paying the funeral home bill.  In many cases several family members may agree to share the costs.

If the funeral home has collected the deceased and arranged a funeral planning conference with the family, a ‘funeral contract’ will be drafted that outlines exactly what the costs are.  Once signed this is a legally-binding contract for services, and if you fail to honor this contract and pay for services as agreed, the funeral home can take you to court.

What responsibility does the state have to help families with funeral costs?

The state has responsibility for conducting the dispositions of those individuals who die within the care of the state.  Primarily this means those who have been resident in state-owned institutions, such as those individuals who have been incarcerated in prisons, sectioned into mental institutions, in care in residential nursing homes, homeless individuals, and sometimes those who are a victim of a crime.  These are referred to as “indigents”.  The state only has a responsibility to perform the most basic of disposition service.  Traditionally this was a very basic burial in a ‘pauper’ section of a local municipal cemetery.  What could also be referred to as a “pauper burial”.   Today, more counties are opting to use direct cremation as a cheaper and simpler alternative to burial.  A direct cremation can be performed in most states (at a cost to the county) for around $300 – $500.

indigent-burialWhat is an indigent burial?

Where a state has an ‘indigent burial assistance’ program, there may be some ascribed funding to support those on welfare with a basic disposition.  The level of support varies tremendously by state and county, and in many areas has been axed as municipal budgets have been tightened.  25% of Americans may be below the poverty line, but in most cases only 50% of those under the poverty line are considered indigent.1

What financial help is there for low income families with cost of a funeral?

The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is used to assess how an individual/family may qualify for many low-income assistance programs, and the same applies to funding funeral costs.  Many families often misinterpret the phrase ‘indigent death’, believing it to mean an entitlement for low-income stipend and assuming that the city will automatically take over the costs.   If you are a low income family or individual and wish to find out IF there is any financial support available to you to assist with funeral costs, you should consult your local county Human Services Department to ascertain what (if any) assistance there may be.  Check out these state funeral planning guides for state relevant information (if available).

indigent-cemeteryYou must be prepared for the fact that you WILL have to conform to rigid assessments for qualification, and if the state provides funding they will only offer basic services over which you will have very little control!  The state is likely to offer a direct cremation or a basic funeral.  Do bear in mind that in many areas now you can arrange a simple, basic and dignified cremation for between $500 – $995.  This enables you to remain in control of the disposition process, and provides the opportunity to conduct a family-led funeral by having the deceased immediately cremated and then conducting your own memorial or ash scattering services.  The DFS Memorials network of low cost cremation providers can help you find your nearest and most affordable cremation provider.

If the deceased qualified – you may also be able to claim the $255 lump sum death benefit payment that Social Security pays out. (The funeral director will assist you with submitting this claim)  Another possibility that has more recently become available as an alternative for those families who cannot afford a funeral is whole body donation.  This is where is the deceased’s body is donated to an institution for research, and the costs of a cremation are covered by the institution or body donation organization.  In some areas funeral homes have affiliated with body donation organizations and can directly offer this to families. Some funeral homes refuse to on the grounds that it is not part of the level of funeral ‘service’ they wish to offer.  You can, however, deal directly with a body donation organization to make a donation.  You can read more about ‘Body Donation’ on US Funerals Online.

unclaimed-deadHow does a family claim financial assistance from the county for a funeral?

Budgets are generally managed at a county or city level, and the Human Services (or sometimes Social Services) department handles these budgets and claims for assistance.   The application process can be onerous and stringent and any assets, life insurance and savings will be taken into account.  In some areas a county judge has the ultimate authority to decide whether to accept or decline applications for a burial assistance program.  If funding is awarded for a low-income case, this will usually seal the cost that can be spent on a funeral.  For example in Massachusetts a program offers burial support of costs up to $1,100 for a funeral that cannot exceed a total cost of $1,500, and in New York a low income family (if qualifying) can claim up to $900 towards the cost of a funeral, but it must not exceed a total cost of $1,700.

If you want to find out if funding is available in your county, check with your Human Services or Social Services department.

What if I don’t qualify for financial support and I still cannot afford a funeral?

Your best option is to arrange the least expensive disposition available to you.  This is a direct cremation.  You can generally arrange this for between $500 and $1,000 in most metro areas, and for under $1,500 in most other areas.  This can still be a simple and yet dignified send off.  Once the direct cremation is conducted and you have the cremation ashes back, you can arrange a family gathering and private memorial ceremony.   Contact your nearest DFS Memorials provider to find a low cost cremation.

There are some other options you can consider to help you raise funds for a funeral.  Reading  ‘What are your options on how to pay for a funeral or cremation?’ and ‘Crowdfunding a Funeral’ may give you some further ideas.

Sources:

1 Abandoned Bodies on the Rise in Tom Green County

Funeral Insurance: Legalities that can provide loop-holes!

LIfe-Insurance-PolicyThis story in the news today (USA Today: Funeral expenses leave mother’s body in limbo) highlights some potential risks with using life insurance to pay out for funeral expenses.

Dorothy Johnson believed she had been prudent and wise in taking out a life insurance policy for $50,000 which would cover her funeral expenses and hopefully leave a financial legacy for her children.

She did not foresee that she would die young (53 years) of a heart condition and having made her youngest son the beneficiary, that he would not legally at 16 years old, be able to access the funds.

We all know that insurance companies hate to pay out and will find any loop-hole, small print opportunity to void a policy or clause that you have transgressed to escape making full payment.

In the Johnson’s case, their mother’s body remains deteriorating at the funeral home whilst the insurance company claims that a legal guardian has to petition the court to access the funds.  This could take weeks, if not months, and all the Johnson’s want is to be able to hold a dignified funeral for their mother and say their final goodbyes!

The surviving family does not have sufficient money to be able to hold a funeral service without the life insurance funds.  They have approached 7 Social Service organizations for help, but as of yet no help has been offered.

This is a sad but true story of how ordinary families across America are affected by funeral costs today.  Preplanning is an excellent idea and is meant to save your surviving family the anguish of this sort of situation.  However, as this story exemplifies, you MUST ensure that all your ‘ducks are in row’ with any kind of insurance policy you take out to cover final expenses.

In the Johnson’s case it looks like they will not be able to have the funeral they wanted for their mother – a home-going funeral befitting for a woman who did nothing but care for others.  The family will have no option but to hold a simple and low cost cremation in order to handle the disposition of their mother.

If you hold life insurance, or are considering taking out a funeral insurance policy, do ensure you carefully check ALL the terms about how the funds can be accessed by your designated beneficiary.

REST IN POVERTY: Is funeral poverty going to be the next social crisis?

Reports are abound today from the United Kingdom about the crisis of “funeral poverty” which is being prophesied as the next social crisis for families.  Figures estimate that 100,000 families will hardly manage to pay for a funeral this year.  It seems when so much focus has been on the ‘cost of living’ for the past few years, we may have avoided facing the crisis that hits many families – the cost of dying!

funeral-assistanceFuneral costs have gone up dramatically in the UK over the last year due to changes in energy prices and control on emissions.  Between 2004 and 2013 the cost of a funeral has risen by 80%.  The average cost of a funeral in England now stands at $12,528 (£7,622) and this is when the UK cremates around 75%.

According to a Sun Life report [Sept 2013] one in five people can’t afford a funeral – however the number of people who are knocked sideways financially, for even years afterwards, probably exceeds 20%  considerably.

A very similar crisis is quietly looming here in the United States, and we should take note on how our allies across the pond are responding.  The cremation rate in the UK has been steadily rising for the last 4 decades now.  Last year energy prices increased significantly, and new European laws on emissions meant many crematories had to install new equipment and filters.  The result – a 7.1% increase in cremation costs.

Why are funerals so expensive?

funeral-costsThe average funeral in the U.S. costs $7,045 (National Funeral Directors Association 2012) without any cemetery fees.  In reality the average traditional funeral, with cemetery costs included, is likely to be in the region of $10,000.  Could you produce $10,000 cash to pay for a funeral today?  Even financing a funeral is not as easy as it may seem in our give-away credit culture.  Understandably it is not the most appealing credit venture for credit companies to finance a funeral.  After all, re-possessing a casket, corpse and burial plot is not that easy!

Why does a funeral cost so much?  Good question, and in all reality it need not cost thousands of dollars.  It IS possible to arrange a very dignified funeral for between $800 and $4,000, depending upon whether you opt for cremation or burial and where you are located.

Direct cremation: the lowest cost cremation option

Cremation is storming the U.S. right now, largely because it offers such a lower cost alternative to expensive funerals.  Direct cremation is the trend which is most startling, and the demand for affordable direct cremation in the U.S. is rising exponentially!  A direct cremation is a simple, no fuss disposition option.  The deceased is cremated without any ceremony and the ashes returned to the family.  Of course, the family can then arrange their own memorial service if they so choose.  In a way, it enables families to reclaim the act of the memorialization ritual and help us move back to family-led funerals – the way it used to be done over a century ago!

How is funeral poverty going to affect families and the funeral industry?

Death is part of the natural lifecycle and our death rituals are a fundamental aspect of our culture.   Over the last century or so, we have always managed to take care of our poor – whether the church rallied round, a family member stepped in or a benefactor helped out.  But with so many families now falling into that bracket of not being able to afford a funeral, the support systems that traditionally helped are struggling to cope.

States and local municipalities each allocate a budget for indigent funerals, or any aid for those families that cannot afford a funeral.  However, as budget cut-backs have been made, funds in many areas have been reduced, if not axed altogether.  And, of course, should a family qualify for public aid there is an onerous application process to obtain the funding.

This means that families are facing the crisis of the loss of a loved one without a solid support system, and funeral homes are trying to continue operating whilst accruing more bad debts!  I have witnessed more funeral homes insisting on full payment before agreeing to take on a funeral contract, and an increase in funeral businesses that are offering a low cost cremation alternative to meet the market demand for cut price funerals.  Revenue for funeral homes is down and more funeral homes will close down or be consolidated.  Look at what is happening with Service Corporation International acquiring Stewart Enterprises!

The death taboo: Discussing your final wishes and preplanning a funeral

Senior couple meeting with agentIn this last year we have seen some new approaches to dispelling the taboo surrounding death in our culture.  A number of cities have held ‘death cafes’ and the death over dinner organization have held dinner parties around the U.S.  All in a bid to encourage people to talk openly about death and what their final wishes are.  Although 90% of Americans believe it is a good idea to preplan a funeral – only 10% actually do so!  This just demonstrates how adverse we are to preplanning arrangements for our end of life…almost as if doing so will bring it on!

With the death rate set to increase over the next 20 years, life expectancy increasing and senior care costs often depleting families’ financial resources – it is becoming more vital to preplan and prepay for funeral expenses.  This doesn’t have to mean preplanning elaborate services, or even forking out thousands of dollars into a funeral trust.  It simply means setting your wishes out, ensuring your surviving family understands how you wish to be taken care of upon your death and ensuring the funds are available.

A Totten Trust (Payable on Death Account) is an extremely safe and effective way to lay away the funds to cover your funeral.  You can name 2 beneficiaries, who can immediately access the funds [without Probate] upon your death, yet the funds remain in your control and you accrue any interest.

You will also find that many of the low cost funeral and cremation providers are now offering simple cremation plans that can be prepaid.  You can preplan and prepay a cremation for under $1,500 in most areas of the United States, and for less in many metro areas.

The Pauper’s Funeral: The rise in demand for public aid funerals

In ye olden days a pauper’s funeral was considered the only end for the poorest in society – so what does it say about our society when the demand for pauper’s funerals is on the increase?  In the UK they have an excellent welfare and benefits system and the Social Fund Funeral Payment, launched in 1988, helps to support those who cannot afford to pay for a funeral [if eligible].  As mentioned above, our system here in the U.S. lacks consistently across the nation and in some areas may be almost non-existent.

We try and help families every day who are worried about how they are going to pay for a funeral, and in many cases it means opting for the cheapest cremation they can find.  Social Security does pay out a lump sum death benefit [again for those that qualify] which can contribute $255 to a funeral fund, but this does not go a long way to cover full burial expenses.  Both the UK and U.S. report a rise in demand for public aid to pay for funeral expenses.  And more families are having no other option than to choose a cheap cremation.

With a rising death rate, a growing senior population living longer and spending on nursing care, impending funeral poverty should be a concern for our government.  It is clear that unless some improved strategy and provision is put in place, we are certainly heading towards a potential death care crisis.

Visit our DFS Memorials locations page to find your nearest low cost cremation provider.

How much does a direct cremation cost?

Understanding Direct Cremation – Part 2

direct-cremation-priceThe price for a direct cremation ranges between $399 and $3,000.  Yes, I know that seems a staggering disparity of price for the same service, but a direct cremation can significantly range in price depending upon whom you employ to deliver a direct cremation.  Where the cremation rate is higher (certainly on the West coast and Pacific), the competition for the cremation market has driven down the price for a direct cremation, and some companies can even operate as Direct Disposers, reducing their overhead to such a minimum that they can reduce their price offering to their customers.  With no expensive funeral home, staff, vehicles and embalming equipment to maintain – operational costs are much lower.

In parts of Nevada you can purchase a direct cremation for as little as $399 complete.  In most states and metro areas of the U.S. a direct cremation will cost between $700 and $1,000, so still a very reasonable cost to arrange a complete disposition.  In some areas such as the Southeast and New England, a direct cremation tends to be nearer to the $1,500 price mark.

Are there any hidden extras for a direct cremation package?

average-cost-cremationIf you are purchasing a “complete direct cremation package” then there should generally only be cash disbursements that may be  an extra cost.  Cash disbursements that the funeral home will ask you to pay separately for will include such things as death certificate and cremation permits.  These vary in price by state and county.  A death certificate can be anything between $6 and $30, and a cremation permit can be charged at anything from $10 to $300, so it is important to establish this when you speak to the funeral home about a direct cremation.

Disclosure of direct cremation prices

The funeral industry has long resisted openly disclosing prices.  Some claim it is because “no two funerals are the same”, but it is also generally accepted that this is because funeral business can be BIG business with large profits. It has been reported by the industry that they can up-sell to 60% of families that request a ‘simple cremation’.  This means that when you approach a funeral home and say that you desire a ‘simple cremation’ they will often aim to encourage you to select incremental products or services to maximize their revenue.

Direct cremation should be listed on the General Price List (GPL)

The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule means that a funeral home MUST disclose prices.  They must have a GPL and provide this to you on request.  A direct cremation is usually listed towards the end of the GPL, almost as the ‘poor cousin’ of funeral services.

Some progressive funeral homes and cremation providers are recognizing the demand, if need, to deliver to customers what they want.  They will openly display cremation prices and offer a simple and transparent direct cremation package.

If you come across a funeral home that is openly disclosing their prices, this will generally mean they understand the demand for affordability and transparency.  If a funeral home does not disclose prices on their website or advertising, and may not openly share a cremation price over the phone, this should probably ring alarm bells and signify that they have to justify their service charges.

Comparing like-for-like in direct cremation services

It is important to stipulate that what is considered a ‘complete’ direct cremation charge can vary.  You MUST ensure that you compare like-for-like direct cremation packages and prices.    As I mentioned above the price for a direct cremation can vary significantly, so you must check EXACTLY what is included in any direct cremation price.

Some funeral homes quote a direct cremation price which seems fair but they have excluded the crematory fee, especially if they do not have their own crematory and consider the crematory fee as a separate cash disbursement.  It has also been known for funeral homes to exclude the fee for the ‘alternative container’ required for the cremation, and this can be added as an extra for between $50 and $300.  It is quite typical for death certificates and cremation permits to be an additional cash disbursement cost, although funeral homes sometimes include one death certificate in a direct cremation package cost.

Do be aware that economies of scale do not seem to work the same in the funeral industry as they do with most corporate models.  The corporate-owned funeral establishments generally offer the more expensive direct cremations.  Therefore, it is very wise to compare prices for a direct cremation between several cremation service providers before signing a contract.

Understanding Direct Cremation – Part 3 : Comparing direct cremation costs and reviewing cremation providers

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What is the average cost of a cremation in Boston?

We are all becoming more price-conscious consumers today and shopping for Boston cremation services is no different.  What can be frustrating is that many funeral homes do not actually display cremation prices on their websites or advertising.

low-cost-cremation-bostonAccording to the Federal Trade Commission’s ‘Funeral Rule‘, all licensed funeral homes in Boston MUST have a GPL (General Price List) itemizing all their services charges and funeral merchandise, and they MUST disclose these prices to you when you make an inquiry.  However, getting succinct funeral pricing information is still not always easy!

To help families through this cremation price comparison quagmire, we at DFS Memorials have conducted some cremation price comparison in Boston and selected a local, family-owned funeral home that offers a competitively-priced and best value cremation package.

Cremation services in Boston are not especially cheap, and we have discovered that the average cost of a direct cremation is around $1,600.  A number of funeral homes in Boston are priced in the $2,000+ bracket for a basic direct cremation service.   However the funeral home DFS Memorials has partnered with offers a complete direct cremation package for just $1,310.  This presents an exceptional value cremation service package for the Boston area.

To find out more about the best priced cremation services in Boston :

Call on  (617) 221-7778 for immediate help with a cremation,                                           or to preplan a cremation plan

Direct Cremation Package : $1,310

Traditional Funeral : $4,000 (inc. casket)

Cremation services available throughout Essex County, Norfolk County, Suffolk County, Middlesex County, Worcester County, Braintree, Burlington, Marblehead, Melrose, Milton, Needham,  Reading, Saugus, Stoneham, Wakefield,Wellesley,  Winchester, and Winthrop.

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What is a public assistance funeral?

The poor economy has taken its toll on many American families, and as many struggle just to put food on the table, a death can be but an additional financial strain.  Less and less people are investing in funeral plans or burial insurance, simply because savings and insurance policies are some of the first things to go when there is a financial crisis.

help-with-funeral-costsMore often today at DFS Memorials we are encountering distraught families who have found that a sudden bereavement has tipped them over the edge!  We are witnessing an increase in the number of folks seeking out financial help with funeral expenses, and answering questions about what help there is to pay funeral costs.

What kind of financial help there is varies considerably depending on where you live, what your personal circumstances are, and the circumstances of the deceased.  Some states/counties do still offer some public assistance with funeral costs, however, this is very limited these days.  A ‘public assistance’ funeral is where the state will contribute a fixed sum towards the cost of a funeral.  It is sometimes called a ‘welfare funeral’.

The state will pay a fixed amount, generally direct to the funeral director, that will enable a basic burial or cremation to be conducted.  In some cases the family can supplement the contribution.

If you are concerned about how you are going to pay for a funeral, you need to seek some guidance.  You may wish to consult your local county Human Services or Social Services department.  Sometimes they will have a list of funeral homes who will handle public assistance funerals.   The funeral director will complete the necessary forms with you and submit his fees to the county for payment.

public-assistance-funeral

Do be aware, that if for any reason the application for support is declined, you would be liable for the funeral costs your funeral home has incurred concerning the funeral contract you have signed.  You MUST ensure that you can raise the sufficient funds to cover the expenses you are arranging.

Due to the rise in bad debt for funeral expenses, and the reduction in county support, some funeral homes are less willing to accept deceased family members where it is apparent the family may lack funds.  However, there are still funeral homes who do their utmost to help families care for their lost loved ones, no matter the unfortunate circumstances.  It IS important to ensure you are dealing with reputable, funeral professionals who care about helping your family.

There are various financial support funds for deceased veterans and certain dependents, as well as victims of crime.

— Remember: If you have concerns about affording a funeral, try and keep your funeral costs to a minimum.  You can arrange a simple, dignified cremation and conduct your own family memorial, which can reduce your outlay to under $1,000 in many areas of the United States.

Sara Marsden [Google+]

 

What can you do if you cannot afford a funeral

William Gladstone quote

What does a family do if they simply do not have sufficient funds to pay out for a funeral?Sadly we are responding to more inquiries daily from families who find themselves in crisis when a death occurs.  If a family member dies without any financial resources or insurance, it can be a hardship for surviving family to suddenly have to come up with the funds to cover funeral costs.

‘Free’ Funerals

Realistically there is very little ‘free’ help towards paying funeral expenses.  It is your responsibility to try and ensure you can arrange a moderate funeral within your budget limitations.  If the deceased does have assets within their estate, you may be able to borrow against assets while you await probate.  However, borrowing to pay for a funeral is not only very difficult, it is not wise to get into debt to pay for death care.

If you have no income, or low income there is limited help available, which varies greatly by state and county.  You would need to check directly with your local county Social Services or Human Services to explore what help may be available with burial or cremation expenses.

Indigent Burial Assistance Programs

Most states do have in place a budget to cover indigent dispositions.  This provision has been cut back as budget deficits have grown.  Some states have almost eliminated it altogether.  These indigent burial assistance programs are largely aimed at dealing with the dispositions of indigents, homeless and the mentally ill who may pass away in state care with no next of kin.  In some states these dispositions are referred to medical schools for anatomical donation as a means of a ‘cost-effective’ disposition.  If you wish to find out more about indigent burial assistance programs by state, read this article on US Funerals Online.

Fund-raising to meet funeral expenses

More families are forced down this route today.  If you opt for a simple, basic cremation this can be achieved for between $500 – $1000, and this is a more realistic amount to raise with some fund-raising activity.  Be it car washes, BBQs, yard sales or a community event – this can prove a means to help meet the full cost of a cremation.

‘No Cost’ cremation

If you absolutely have no funds to cover funeral expenses, and cannot raise funds to pay for a basic cremation or burial, then you may wish to consider a whole body donation.  This is not always the easy solution, as not every donation is accepted.   However, it may be a solution if you cannot afford a funeral and you are willing to consider anatomical donation.  You can donate via a local medical school or through a national donation company.  Many funeral homes now even liaise on your behalf.

Opt for a direct cremation and find your nearest low cost provider

The best solution is to opt to find the most cost efficient disposition service available to you.  In most cases this means opting for a direct cremation.  This can be arranged for anywhere between $495 and $1,395, depending on where you live.  The price for even this basic service differs significantly dependent on where you live.  Areas where the cremation rate is higher tend to be cheaper, but in areas where traditional burial is still very common, the price for a direct cremation can still amount to between $1,500 and $2,500.

If you are worried about paying for a funeral, please make sure you consult with someone objective who can offer you some support.  Whether this is a charitable organization, minister, friend or work associate.  It can often help to talk your concerns through and have  another opinion or perspective on how best to address, and resolve, the issue.

[Sara Marsden] Google+

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How to preplan a direct cremation

direct-cremation-planAt DFS Memorials we are frequently asked about preplanning a direct cremation.  The cremation rate continues to grow, and more Americans are becoming interested in cremation as a less expensive funeral alternative.  A direct cremation offers the most inexpensive funeral option.  It is when the cremation is performed as immediately as possible following the death, with no formal service conducted.  The cremated remains are then returned back to the family, or are scattered.

How much will a direct cremation plan cost?

A direct cremation will ordinarily cost anywhere between $495 and $1395, depending on where you live.  Additional charges are such things as death certificates and permits.  A direct cremation generally includes a temporary container for the cremated remains, but you can choose to add an urn to your pre-planned cremation package.

How do I set up a direct cremation plan?

If you are seeking to pre-plan a direct cremation the easiest way to do it is to make arrangements directly with a funeral home or cremation society.  Each state has its own licensing laws on preneed funeral contracts.  Each DFS Memorials member can offer a pre-planned cremation licensed according to the statures in their state.

What prepayment plans are available?

There are various options for prepayment. Most cremation companies will ask for full payment at the time of setting up the direct cremation plan, however, you may be able to make arrangements direct with a local cremation provider to arrange a payment plan.  Cremation societies and memorial societies generally request a membership fee to be paid upfront.

Pre-planning a direct cremation enables you to plan ahead, save your family both the emotional and financial burden, and lock into a low cost cremation price today.   Planning ahead enables you to carefully compare and review cremation providers, finding the best direct cremation package for you.  It saves family the grief and stress of trying to locate the right cremation service at the time of need.

Locate your nearest DFS Memorials cremation provider today – Arrange your low cost direct cremation plan and give your family peace of mind!

[Sara Marsden] Google+