4 Ways to Get Help Paying for Funeral Expenses

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An average traditional funeral these days is about $7,000-$10,000. A simple cremation can begin at around $650 but averages around $1100. Regardless of the type of services you choose, costs vary widely depending upon location and organization, so shop around.

It’s important to remember that honoring your loved one by gathering with friends and family to share fond memories, tears and hugs is the most important thing about memorialization. Elaborate services, expensive caskets and a lot of memorial products won’t help to heal your heart like being with those you love during your time of grief.

We’ve collected several ideas below to help you be a sharp consumer and help pay for funeral costs:

Planning Ahead

Check the decedent’s important papers to see if he/she had any of these arrangements:

  • Pre-planning program (paid in advance)
  • Funeral insurance (various options, also known as pre-need, burial or final expense insurance)
  • Life insurance (with funeral benefits) – Don’t forget to check with employers
  • Totten trust account with a bank (also known as a payable on death account) – Any bank account may have this option

Creative Fund Raising

Try local or creative fund raising such as:

  • Car washes, bake sales, and church congregation or social group appeals
  • Check with the city to determine if a permit is needed for events
  • Ask the decedent’s church. It may have a fund set aside to assist with needy congregants’ death arrangements
  • Set up a memorial fund at your bank or the bank the decedent worked with
  • Works especially well if you live in a small, tight knit community
  • Online crowd funding sites such as

Government Programs

  • Indigent burial programs at a county or state level
    • Call the department of social services, county treasurer’s office, or public fiduciary for details
    • Programs vary – May be restricted to those with no known next of kin or simply families that are financially poor
    • These services are becoming increasingly difficult and time consuming to qualify for as local government budgets are tight
  • Social Security Administration
  • Medicare
    • Medical Savings Account may have funds that can be used for final arrangements
  • Medicaid
    • If the decedent was covered under Medicaid call to ask if he/she put away any funds for final arrangements
  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs offers some allowances, call for more information – 202.208.5166
  • The Railroad Retirement Board, call for more information – 877.772.5772
  • If the decedent was an honorably discharged or currently serving veteran, there are some death benefits through the Veteran’s Administration
    • Tip: Combine this with a no-cost whole body donor program which includes free cremation and all of the arrangements will be at no cost to the family
    • Resources here

Super Low Cost or Free Options

  • Organize a DIY gathering yourself with the resources at hand (examples below)
    • Celebration of Life event in a low cost community center, pot luck style
    • Memorial service at someone’s home, backyard or a local park
    • Gathering and dinner at your church (or that of the decedent)
  • Body donation to a local university medical school to support education
    • Call to verify donor acceptance criteria and associated costs
  • Body donation to a private organization for the advancement of medical research and education
  • Direct cremation, (also known as simple cremation) low cost, no frills
    • Shop around, can range from $400-$3000
    • Even though the cost is relatively low, make sure the facilities are clean and the staff are friendly and helpful
  • Interestingly most states still allow burial on family property but check with your local county or town clerk for zoning laws and other health regulations that must be followed.

If you would like more information regarding funeral planning, please visit our resources page. If you would like to discuss the no cost option of body donation, please give us a call at 800 417 3747. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.