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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2 thoughts on “What can you do if you cannot afford a funeral

  1. Cost is not the only advantage of cremation – for example, if a loved one chooses to be cremated there are almost limitless options for what can be done with the body.

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