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Is funeral financial assistance available?

20 answers | Last updated: Aug 16, 2015
An anonymous caregiver asked...

I just found out my mom has no life insurance. She is in an assisted living center (90 years old) and all of her SSI and SS checks go for living expenses. I pick up the remainder of bills. Is there any help for funeral expenses? I have been to speak with a funeral director, and it seems that it will cost me $7000.00 of money that I do not have. What can I do?


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35% helpful
Steve Weisman answered...

There are a number of sources for funds to be used for funeral expenses.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has benefits that include burial in a VA National Cemetery for See also:
How to Hire a Funeral Director

See all 281 questions about Final Arrangements
veterans and qualifying spouses. You should contact the VA to see if your mother would qualify for these benefits.

Most states and local governments also have funds available for burial expenses for financially needy individuals. Check with your local city or town clerk's office for guidance as to what programs may be available to your mother.

Finally, Social Security provides small amounts of assistance for qualifying individuals. You should contact the local Social Security Administration office for further information.


More Answers
38% helpful
chica60 answered...

Go to www.funerals.org it is the website for the Funeral Consumer's Alliance. They are very adept at offering afordable but meaningful solutions.


24% helpful
VOLSMolly answered...

There's a great guide on finding help paying for funerals, burials and cremation called A Guide to Burial Assistance and Funeral Planning for New Yorkers in Need.

Check it out here:


It's current as of April 2011. Check www.volsprobono.org for future updates.


29% helpful
J. Evans answered...

Sorry folks, most communities, counties or states funds, or free funeral money is NOT there! If a deceased has little or no money, no assets, indigent and no family...MAYBE, but it usually means direct cremation, no ceremony, no obituary, only proper disposition of ones body. YOU may only pay for services you ask for from a licensed funeral director, so ASK your personal funeral home in your community and ASK them. Our funeral home, no money, no services, but I will always HELP people and work with probate court if necessary as to the direction for our unfortunate indigents. Veterans - your safe, VA can really help you, SSA - sorry-upto 255 for surviving spouse only.


60% helpful
menagerie answered...

J. Evans tells the truth, at least as far as how I have experienced this. We are burying a parent tomorrow. We do not believe in cremation, which is thrust upon the poor and indigent as though they should have no choice. We asked the local Catholic Church for help, and they did not even give us acknowledgement or answer. A priest in another town again contacted them for us, and they still did not contact us. We got the simplest burial with no stone, and it will cost us $4,400 - from a household supported by one food service job. Do not expect compassion from the society we live in. I am disgusted and angry, and you can believe that I will vote and behave according to what I have learned from this unfortunate situation. Thankfully, though, we have still saved our loved one from what we consider a horrid fate and honored him to the extent that we are able.


44% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

I do know that there is an organization called the Hebrew Free Burial Assoc. who will provide a dignified and traditional Jewish Funeral for a Jewish person regardless of their financial means. I believe they operate in the New York Metropolitan area. For all others I would suggest you try contacting not just your particular local house of worship, but the administrative offices of the particular clergy you are affiliated with (eg the Archdiosces of New York - not sure I spelled that correctly, but you get the idea; not sure who governing bodies are for other religions, but if you dig around on the web I'm sure you'll find them). As someone who has lost both parents I can tell you it is never too early to check it out.


50% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

With buget cuts and lack of funds most cities and towns do not have funds to bury love ones. My mother had us all in burial insurance before she died . I took it upon myself to put myself, son , brother and sister in a insurance plan. I know I most likely wont/wouldn't have the funds if/when either one passes. Based on the plans I pay for, my family can be cremated with funds left for some type of simple memorial service.


64% helpful
Andrea13 answered...

For J. Evans My father just passed away 2 days ago rest his soul! Cremation is not only for the poor and indigent, My parents spoke about it if a death should occur, They said dont spend any unneccessary money for the buriel because its only the body the spirit is long gone, So they already spoke about it and we are going to use cremation! Cremation is not a horrid fate, The tragedy of having a loved one pass away is!!!! Andrea.


45% helpful
cbakerazle answered...

My parents both had a prepaid plan in effect so that was great. My brother on the other hand is practically indigent and is dying with lung cancer. We don't have funds to have a funeral for him but cremation is $770 locally. That is still alot for us, but it is better than $7, 000 or more for a funeral. I personally think cremation is the smart alternative. We believe that once a person has passed, they are no longer in the body. People die at sea, plane crashes, fires, all that leave no body at all. God can still give them a new body at the resurrection. No problem for him. I also think it is nice that you can take the ashes home in a nice urn and place it maybe in a nice spot under a tree, with a small marker of some sort to have a memorial nearby. No cemetery visits needed. Or they can be scattered. Personal choice, really.


40% helpful
abrahamlight answered...

Wow what days we live in... God help us as the days of Naoh when evil was excessive that made God angry I bet God is angry of all the tithing money we put on church that is used for more and more buildings more and more show off while we lack burial funds. May be the State should pass a law that part of the church income be diverted to this difficult time. I have been there and I cant even talk about it.. God have mercy on us for Christ sake, help us God of Abraham


25% helpful
Joanna C. answered...

My mother in Law is passing at any time. We wanted to be ready so I called a local funeral home. For ONE day wake and burial in a National Cemetary (which will be free...) he told me $14,000.00!!! So out of control!


75% helpful
US Funerals Online answered...

Sadly, there is minimal financial support available for funeral expenses. Some states/counties provide a higher level of burial assistance than others, but they are largely 'indigent' assistance programs and therefore you do have to qualify as very low level or no income. It does mean you have very little control over the funeral process, and as pointed out you will only get a basic cremation or burial. Try DFS Memorials, which is a network of Mom & Pop funeral homes that DO offer a basic cremation for between $495 and $1,395. It can mean that you can be in control of the funeral service & arrange a dignified yet economical disposition of your choice.


20% helpful
BrenKathryn answered...

I have a same problem. Mom is at nursing home with Hospice set up. She's dying. I found out last year that she did not have a prepaid funeral, just paid burial plot next to her late husband so I appealed to my 3 siblings living out of state (I am in Arkansas) they are unable to pay for it..even for simple direct burial or cremation. I took care of Mom with her Alz's disease in my home for 2 and half years then saw that she had best care at a nursing home which is very close to me, brought her home with me several times.I have been with Mom at nursing home to comfort her all day everyday since Friday. I told Hospice nurse about it, she said she would send a social worker to help. I get SSDI, on fixed income, no husband, no kids.


40% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

There is a new company that provides financial assistance for Families. They are called Funeral Finance. Go to their website to learn more information. www.funeralfinancellc.com. They are operated by Funeral Home owners. They can assit families that have limited funds and no to little life insurance.


100% helpful
M Houlette answered...

BrenKathyrn - I am a hospice social worker in Arkansas as well. Contact Alzheimer's Arkansas online - there are two grants there you could qualify for to have assistance with your mother's expenses. Unfortunately, in Arkansas there are very few to no indigent burial policies, and the ones that do exist are only for the homeless. Even then the counties do their best to find a next of kin. There are burial benefits for Social Security, but it is a pittance in comparison to the cost. There is also a very low cost funeral program in Jacksonville - but if you have to transport the deceased to that site it is so much per mile. I wish there were more resources.


33% helpful
US Funerals Online answered...

BrenKathyrn & M Houlette, I do not know whereabouts you are located in Arkansas, but I do know that the DFS Memorials provider offers a complete direct cremation package for $595, and he does cover the whole state. If you can get any kind of grant or assistance, this is likely the most affordable option available to you. DFS Memorials Arkansas[dfsmemorials.com]


100% helpful
BrenKathryn answered...

So sorry for not getting back here sooner. Mom passed away shortly after my post. Anyway, our relatives in Florida got together and sent me money so that I could bury Mom in her paid plot. Cost was 995.00 without embalming. Just for pick up, casket, graveside service, etc. plus 725.00 for open/close of her grave. So grateful that they helped. I still miss Mom so much but I am glad she got to be buried next to her late husband as she was against cremation. Hospice people helped me find low funeral cost. They were so wonderful to me. I used funeral services in Jacksonville, AR. They were good.


An anonymous caregiver answered...

Many counties have what is called an "Indigent fund" which is available to families without proper funding for a funeral of a loved one. It pays for a simple funeral package. You can work together with the county and their funding and the funeral home to assist you with your loved ones burial and funding which is available.


grieved daughter answered...

@ J. Evans answered...

". . .Veterans - your safe, VA can really help you. . ."

Only $350 for the funeral home service of transport, embalming, dressing and prepping body, casket, death certificate and obituary. The cheapest cost for these funeral home services was $3,500 and the VA Grant because dad was on his VA Aid and Assistance pension stipend for a terminal illness, he was qualified to receive the benefit grant of $350 towards the funeral home services cost. If a veteran is not on their Aid and Assistance pension stipend when they die they do not qualify for the benefit. Of course the military funeral/burial with honors at closest National Cemetery (in dad's case it was Fort Gibson National Cemetery) is free for the veteran. It is just the funeral home costs that are not covered in full for the veteran and they have to qualify as stated above for the $350 grant towards the funeral home service cost.

It has been more than a month since dad passed and the funeral home his holding his body hostage for full payment and refuses to work with us on payment arrangements. We did receive a grant from a local veteran's group, Shout for America of $500 and another $200 from an on line fund raiser where we were trying to raise the balance needed to pay off the funeral home in full. So they now have been paid 1/3 of their bill of $3.500 and they still refuse to release dad's body (a Bronze Star recipient) to Fort Gibson for his military funeral/burial with honors. So depressed from the additional despair the funeral home has added to our grief. We have no death certificate and no closure.