Help with funeral costs.
Financial assistance is available to help pay for some or all of the funeral or burial costs of a loved one or parent. The resources from charities and the government focus on low income families, the working poor as well as senior citizens who live on a limited income and that also lack assets. Others may also qualify for help in paying for funeral expenses when they are faced with a hardship.
Some states and counties may offer direct financial aid for paying these bills and the various expenses that may be incurred from a funeral. The government may provide other help as well, including free caskets for very low income families, the poor or the indigent. Or they may pay for cremation costs or transportation if the death was out of state. Or individuals can look into services offered by the Funeral Consumers Alliance, which can provide advice and help a family provide an affordable as well as dignified service for their loved ones.
Non-profit advice and referrals for funerals
The Funeral Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides families with resources and educational materials on funeral choices. The organization covers all aspects of burying a loved one, whether it is a parent or child. The organization can counsel people on affordable funeral options that may be available to them. In addition to that, the programs administered may help people work out a service that meets their budget and that also fits their personal as well as overall financial situation.
However, a family’s own budget is the determining factor in what someone can afford to pay for a funeral or burial. An assessment of their assets will also normally be done, ranging from life insurance policies to investments and savings. The non-profit will help clients understand the process and future expenses. 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. There is advice on everything from paying for items and services such as caskets, cemeteries, urns, funeral homes, or monuments. Or some clients may learn about how to get help in the form of free services, whether it is a funeral service, casket, or burial plot. They do their best to help protect a consumer's right to choose an affordable, meaningful, and dignified funeral and burial. But the alliance mostly focuses on saving money and not financial aid.
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. Any low to moderate income family burying a loved one may benefit from their assistance. 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. The staff will direct the client to the most effective resource for their needs.
Funeral Consumers Alliance works with a number of other national organizations, including charities, as well. They partner with funeral homes, churches, and others in the industry to ensure families have both choices and control over the budget. This will give families different choices when it comes to funeral options. They want to offer a number of solutions that are affordable and that meet a family’s budget.
- The non-profit gives free guidance and advice on local memorial and funeral homes as well as planning societies.
- Provide newsletters and pamphlets on funeral choices to increase public awareness of options. These can include pamphlets on how to care for your own dead without using a funeral home.
- Refers individuals to regulatory agencies as well as local funeral planning societies.
- Stay informed with and monitors funeral industry practices, the various trends and exposes abuses or outrageous fees.
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. They try to understand what are affordable options and what aren’t. 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. This allows the client to save even more money on their bills.
Some of the non-profits as well as charities 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, cremation costs 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.
State, county government, and non-profit help with funeral or burial costs.
A limited number of states offer financial assistance for people who can’t afford to pay for cremation, burial or funeral costs. There may be grants given out, or the government may help coordinate low cost loans for those who need to borrow money. Additional programs may be offered at the county or local government level to qualified low income or indigent residents. They also help children of the deceased if they can’t afford to pay for the service.
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 as well details. In addition to these financial aid programs for funerals, 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. Financial 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, and the family needs to have very limited assets to their name. 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. The government may also offer other support as an additional $400 can be paid out for cemetery expenses.
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 with limited income as well as assets. Limits include up to $1,103 for funeral costs and/or $552 for burial costs. But the family needs to apply as well. 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 as well as grant assistance with basic and special needs, such as funeral services or any related expenses.
Kansas – No programs are offered across the state.
Kentucky can pay for indigent burials. Individuals who are without financial means or 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. This depends of funding levels as well as qualification of the applicant. 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, church service, 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.
Note that 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. Call a local social service office.
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. The government will make this payment 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 and all boroughs. They will provide up to $900 in financial assistance in order to pay for burial costs as well as other 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.
Pennsylvania – The state provides a Burial and Cremation Services Payment from The Department of Public Welfare. This is in effect a statewide benefit. 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 other 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. There are strict income and asset requirement.
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 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.
How to apply
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.