Families have choices when it comes to paying the funeral or burial costs of a loved one. Some states and counties may offer direct financial assistance for bills and expenses that may be incurred. Or individuals can look into services offered by the Funeral Consumers Alliance, which can provide advice and help a family provide an affordable and dignified funeral for their loved ones.
The Funeral Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides families with resources and educational materials on funeral choices. The organization can counsel people on affordable funeral options that may be available, and help people work out a service that meets their budget and that also fits their personal and financial situation.
However, a family’s own budget is the determining factor in what someone can afford to pay for a funeral or burial. In general, Funeral Consumers Alliance does not know of charitable programs to direct people to except in very exceptional cases.
The agency does provide information on how to go about shopping and saving money for items and services such as caskets, cemeteries, urns, funeral homes, and monuments. They do their best to help protect a consumer's right to choose an affordable, meaningful, and dignified funeral and burial. Services offered can easily save families more than $10,000 on their burial and funeral costs, and help reduce a lot of heartache that may arise for the family from overwhelming bills during a tremendously stressful time. A sampling of the services offered are below.
The non-profit Funeral Consumers Alliance partners with a number of affiliates that operate across the nation. If you need help, guidance, or advice, consider contacting the Funeral Consumer’s Alliance for information.
Funeral Consumers Alliance works with a number of other national organizations, funeral homes, and others in the industry to ensure families have both choices and control over funeral options. They want to offer a number of solutions that are affordable and that meet a family’s budget.
Over 100 other organizations and affiliates across the United States partner with Funeral Consumers Alliance. Many of these non-profit affiliates do a price survey of area mortuaries and funeral homes. Most of the local affiliates also negotiate price discounts at participating funeral homes, which in effect means that they sort of formed a cooperative buyers' club. Some of the non-profits affiliated with Funeral Memorial Society of America provide education. In general it is a good bet that by supporting and joining a local FCA organization that you will be able to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on unnecessary funeral and burial costs. Savings may also be negotiated on caskets and other services.
An updated list of local organizations is at funerals.org. The main office of Funeral Consumers Alliance can be reached at 1-802-482-3437.
A limited number of states offer financial assistance for people who can’t afford to pay for cremation, burial or funeral costs. Additional programs may be offered at the county or state government level to qualified low income or indigent residents. Below are some resources and programs by state in what can be provided. You may want to call your local social service or local Department of Human Services for more information and details. The social security administration may also provide some limited financial assistance as well.
Social Security Administration – Individuals who are currently receiving Social Security payments from the federal government are entitled to a lump sum death benefit of $255. This financial assistance is only paid out if there is a surviving child or spouse, and the child needs to be 18 years of age or younger.
Alabama – According to Alabama law, each county needs to pay necessary burial expenses and funeral costs of someone who has died in the county and if they don’t have financial means. Assistance also needs to be provided to those family members living in the county who also do not have the financial means to pay their bills.
Alaska – Assistance is only offered for tribal members.
Arizona - Limited burial/cremation expenses may be paid for. Call your local county office.
Arkansas – Each County Judge offers a Paupers fund to the indigent and low income. This fund is payable to the funeral home for individuals that have no insurance or cash to pay for a funeral. All other options need to be used up before the county may assist. Also, the funds may vary by county in the amount they can offer.
California – No statewide assistance is offered. Call your local coroner's office for advice. You should call the county before contacting a funeral home.
Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) offers Burial Assistance. The program can provide financial assistance to help pay for burial, funeral, and/or cremation costs. The amount offered will vary based on whether someone receives help from SSI or Medicaid, but CDHS may pay up to $2500 to the family.
Connecticut Department of Social Services – This government agency will pay up to $1800, less any assets that are in the deceased’s estate, toward cremation or burial expenses.
Delaware – May contribute up to $400 for pauper burial in one of three county cemeteries.
Florida Health and Human Services is mandated by state law to provide proper burial arrangements for residents who are poverty-stricken and whose bodies are unclaimed.
Georgia – No statewide program.
Hawaii – The state will provide up to $400 toward funeral home or crematory expenses. An additional $400 can be paid out for cemetery expenses and bills.
Idaho – Funeral assistance varies by county. For example, Twin Falls may offer up to $895 for Basic Service and $695 for cremation $695.
Illinois Department of Human Services operates the Funeral and Burial Unit at (217) 524-5294. This government run department pays the funeral and burial expenses of a person. Limits include up to $1,103 for funeral costs and/or $552 for burial costs. The amount of money spent, including family contribution and state assistance, may not exceed $2,000 for cemetery costs and $2,000 in funeral expenses/bills.
Indiana - Burial assistance is offered for deceased TANF recipients. Aid includes $400 toward cemetery expenses and $600 toward funeral expenses.
Iowa - The state General Assistance funds provides temporary cash and grant assistance with basic and special needs, such as funeral services and expenses.
Kansas – No programs are offered across the state.
Kentucky can pay for indigent burials. Individuals who are without financial means or burial insurance can get the cost of a burial paid for. Families will need to contact the funeral home of choice for initial screening. If you are qualified, the funeral home will refer you to Adult Services.
Louisiana – Call your local county for advice.
Maine – The state general assistance fund can pay for cremations/burials. Local towns and municipalities are responsible for paying the direct cremation or burial bills of anyone who dies leaving no assets or money to pay those expenses. The applicant also can’t have a livable relative who is financially able to pay the bills.
Maryland Department of Human Resources runs the Burial Assistance Program. This resource is available to help with funeral expenses of deceased recipients and people who are currently enrolled in the Family Investment programs. Aid is only available when their families cannot afford funeral costs on their own. 1-800-332-6347
Massachusetts – The Department of Transitional Assistance is responsible for funeral and burial expenses for those with no other options or means available to them.
Michigan offers a program known as Home & Burial Services. This is offered when the descendant's estate, mandatory copayments, etc., are not sufficient to pay the bills. Burial payment assistance may be available to pay for expenses such as Cremation, the burial itself, or even the costs associated with donation of a body to a medical school.
Minnesota - Some counties in the state, such as Hennepin, offer Funeral Assistance programs. Most are administered by the Public Health Department and/or Human Services. In some cases, certain counties may pay funds (even up to $2,100) directly to the funeral home or providers. All aid depends on county funding and the individual’s needs. State law does require that counties pay basic funeral expenses to cremate or bury those who die alone and who are destitute. Or the state/county needs to provide those services for families or individuals who can't afford a burial or basic coffin for a relative.
Mississippi - No statewide services are provided.
Missouri – Any assistance will vary or be offered at the county level.
Montana – No statewide resources.
Nebraska – Some regions, such as Douglas County, will consider providing financial assistance to pay for the cremation of remains of any person who dies within the boundaries of the county.
Nevada – Your local Department of Social Services may be able to provide payment to pay for the cremation, funeral or burial costs for a deceased indigent person.
New Hampshire – Any assistance will vary by county and municipality.
New Jersey – The State can help the needy and low income pay for funeral bills through the Department of Human Services, or DHS. People will need to apply for the so called public assistance funeral funds by calling the welfare agency or board of social/human services in your county. You can also call (609) 588-2000 for a list of local Department of Human Services offices.
New Mexico - The cremation or burial expenses may be paid by your local county out of the county indigent hospital claims fund or the general fund. In general, qualified families can receive an amount of up to $600 in order to pay for the cremation or burial costs any adult or minor.
New York – Any funeral assistance varies by county. For example, one county pays up to $1000.
New York City - Burial Financial Assistance is provided by the city. They will provide up to $900 in financial assistance in order to pay for burial costs and funeral expenses for low-income New York City residents. Call the Department of Social Services.
North Carolina – Varies by county. Some Department of Social Services may pay up to $1500.
North Dakota – Across the state of ND, individual counties have burial assistance programs available for indigent people and the poor. Most funeral directors are aware of the various financial and cash benefits and they can help people apply for them.
Ohio - The state used to have a program, but it was cut for budgetary reasons. Now the responsibility for paying for the burial and funeral costs of all indigents and the poor has shifted to towns, cities, villages, and, possibly local counties.
Oklahoma – Some counties may offer Burial or Cremation. This is a financial assistance program for families or individuals who do not have the resources to pay for or cremate a loved one.
Oregon – Possible up to $650 may be paid for by the state or county.
Pennsylvania – The state provides a Burial and Cremation Services Payment from The Department of Public Welfare. This government organization will provide qualified families with payments for burial and cremation services on behalf of eligible individuals. Your local County Assistance Offices will determine eligibility. Call 1-800-537-8862.
Rhode Island - May provide financial assistance with funeral expenses, creation or burial costs if the individual meets certain eligibility requirements. Call your local Department of Human Services office for more information or to apply.
South Carolina - Contact the local coroner. Expect limited services or aid, if any.
South Dakota – Assistance will vary by town or county. For example, Minnehaha will pay out up to $2,999, while Lincoln offers $2,500. The state required that counties need to pay the bills and cover costs if someone dies without money and if the deceased has no family member that is able or willing to help cover the costs.
Tennessee – The Indigent Burial/Cremation Services is available in some counties. Some local Social Service organizations provide coordination and funding for the burial and costs of deceased persons who did not leave sufficient resources to pay the expense.
Texas Community Services Department administers the Bereavement Service program in some counties. This county/local government resource will insure that every indigent citizen without adequate resources or financial means will receive a simple but dignified burial. The state of Texas Constitution requires counties to cremate or bury the poor or indigent. This Bereavement program, which provides this service as a last resort, will work either with referral services to obtain low-cost funeral services or directly with families to arrange a county burial.
Utah – No programs are offered at the state level.
Vermont – Call your county for suggestions. Some locations may provide up to $1100.
Virginia – Funeral assistance will vary by county. Norfolk County offers $500, and other counties may provide aid too.
Washington – Programs will be established at the county level. Seattle/King County will provide up to $500 for funeral costs.
Washington DC – The ESA Burial Assistance Program offers cash assistance to low-income Washington, DC residents. Money is offered to those who need help with paying funeral costs. The ESA program provides qualified people up to $450 towards the cost of cremation or up to $800 towards other funeral bills. An ESA identified and approved undertaker must be used by a family.
West Virginia – Some county human services organizations may be aware of funding.
Wisconsin - State and public money is administered at the county level. Apply for up to $1,500 for funeral home expenses and $1,000 for cemetery costs.
Wyoming – Any assistance is set by each county. Park County may offer up to $2500, and other allowances are available from the Department Of Family Services in certain cases. Individual counties have set rules and regulations for offering burial assistance for indigent people.
For more information, or to apply for funeral assistance, call the social service, community action agency, coroner or local Department of Human Services in your state or county. Click here for a listing of non-profit agencies and state programs which may be able to provide more details or refer you.
Like this site?