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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Affordable Cremation Specialists….if you can’t beat ‘um, join ‘um! PART I

“Cremation” seems to be the new kid on the block, but he has a best friend and they go everywhere together, and he is called “Affordable”.  Yes, “Affordable+Cremation” seem to be hanging out everywhere these days, everyone wants to be their friend, even if they don’t really like them, really know who they, or what kind of company they keep!

The cremation rate in the U.S. is in a significant upward trend. We are now at a point where just over 40% of all dispositions are a cremation, and this is set to keep rising year-on-year.  We may be way behind many other countries in Europe or the East, where cremation rates are nearer 80-90%, but we are now playing catch-up!

The funeral industry doesn’t really know what has hit them, in fact, they don’t really want to know.  This is the biggest shake-up the death care industry has witnessed since undertakers started making wooden boxes in the Wild West.  Two major epochs are converging….firstly we are still experiencing a huge global recession (sorry folks but it is not true that it is over), and secondly the baby boomers started turning 65 at the beginning of this year.  The baby boomer generation is busy either bailing their kids out of debt, or choosing different death care plans.  So cremation is becoming the new ‘preferred choice’ for many, because it is cheap and facilitates a more personalized, self-control death care option.

The term “direct cremation” means that no service is held, the deceased is simply collected from the place of death and cremated using an alternative container and the cremated remains are returned directly to the family in a basic plastic urn.  If the family so chooses, they can opt for additional services such as a ‘goodbye’ viewing or a different cremation urn.   It allows funeral costs to be kept to a minimum, whilst also enabling families to have the option of conducting their own memorial service.  Essentially it eliminates much of the “professional services” and “funeral merchandise” that the funeral industry has become based upon.  It disempowers the funeral director and empowers the individual.

So back to what we are witnessing in the death care industry.  Many funeral homes are just opting for the ostrich syndrome and hoping everything will just go back to ‘normal’.  Those that have accepted cremation is set to become a sizable proportion of their business, but are still resistive of the revenue impact, are focusing on how to up-sell cremations.  You may have heard the mantra, or read the websites, that reinforce how still having a ritual (delivered for and charged by) the funeral home is vital to your sense of grieving.  How you could be psychologically scarred if you forego that $3,700 cremation with service in favor of the $750 direct cremation where you can arrange your own service.

The funeral industry is being preyed upon right now, their fear is exposed, and any morsel of hope offered by marketing and consultant gurus who are going to help them suddenly reclaim their lost revenue, is being greedily devoured.  These said gurus rub their hands together, lick their lips, and proffer more solutions such as a better website, social media expertise, advanced telephony systems, customer service training and business consultation.  They are having a feast!  Meantime those funeral directors who are seeing the light in a gestalt way, are opting for the proverbial ‘if you can’t beat ‘um, then join ‘um’ methodology.

So we are seeing ‘affordable cremation’ specialists pop up everywhere.  If one comes to a town near you, that is good news, because it means the price of a basic cremation will become powerfully competitive.  If you see ‘affordable cremation’ being advertised locally, or generic companies appearing such as ‘Cremation Online’, ‘American Cremation Society’ or ‘National Cremation’….then look more closely because you will find it is likely a chameleon.  Many full-service traditional funeral homes now operate a separate affordable cremation division.  They want to have their cake, and eat it!

No cost cremation – the new cheap cremation trend!

I keep coming across this term again and again these days on funeral home web sites.  In the last year the term “no cost cremation” has cemented itself into the death care industry. It is one of those terms that ‘does what it says on the tin’…a means of cremating where there is no direct charge for the cremation services.

Why is this?  Firstly, let’s get this straight – there is no free cremation.  No one will provide you with free cremation services, they want something in return, and in this case it is your body tissues and/or organs.

Whole body donation is big business in the U.S., and the state of the economy, and the high $ paid by medical institutes for samples and cadavers, is driving this industry.

Many funeral homes will now offer a no cost cremation as they affiliate with anatomical donation programs.  In some cases funeral directors do this to provide a much-needed service to those in their communities who simply have no money to pay for funeral expenses.  However, in some areas fees are being paid to funeral homes who refer clients to body donation programs.

I have listed below some of the national anatomical donation companies that I am aware of:

Biogift, Science Care, LifeLegacy, Lifequest Anatomical, & Research for Life

Most local medical Universities will also accept donations on a local level, although it is my understanding that it can take some time to get the cremated remains returned.

If you want a minimal fuss disposition at the best price possible, then you should consult your nearest DFS Memorials cremation provider, who can provide a direct cremation for between $495 and $1,395.

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