Is public assistance available to cover funeral costs? My...

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

Is public assistance available to cover funeral costs? My Dad who I haven't seen in years and who also never paid a dime to my mom while I was growing up just died. I don't have much savings and though I think everyone should have a funeral or some sort of service when they go, I don't want to use the money I have scraped together for my own rainy day. He died with basically nothing. Is there any public assistance for funeral costs?

Expert Answers

Ed Markin, BS, MBA, PhD, is the director of research for the Alzheimer's Disease Research Foundation and author of more than a dozen books. For the past 15 years, Markin has operated the Funeral Help Program.

Is there public assistance for funeral costs? Since I run the Funeral Help hot line I get this question several times daily and wish I could give you a more solid answer than "Maybe". Most states and some cities have an Indigent Burial Fund (or something similar) to assist those who die without assets for a funeral. You can call your local Social Services and inquire, but here comes that 'maybe' I mentioned earlier!

Many states are having to cut budgets due to deficits. Even those that fund assistance do not have unlimited resources so ... the later in the fiscal year we get and the more people applying for funds due to the economy, the less likely there will be funds available. Some states have gone to assistance for cremation only, due to the more reasonable costs. If this is the case, call 1-800-CREMATE and ask for the number of a Cremation SOCIETY near you. Through one of these societies you can likely get everything done within the assistance provided by the state. If the deceased was a veteran, contact the VA as there might be some assistance there.