Is funeral financial assistance available?

A fellow 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?

Expert Answer

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

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 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.