Funeral Funding: How to Get Help with Funeral Costs
Funerals are meant to be a time of grief and healing, a chance to say goodbye to a departed loved one. Yet, for the family of the deceased, a funeral can become extremely stressful. You have to plan a major event with very little time, alongside managing the affairs of your loved one, all at the same time as you grieve. Even worse, you have to pay for the funeral, which typically costs about $7,000-$10,000.
For some, this may be an affordable expense, but often this extra expense can cripple your finances. While there are ways to plan an inexpensive funeral, there will always be some costs, and luckily, there are some ways to get help. By keeping costs low and getting help from the right places, it is possible to plan a respectful funeral without breaking the bank.
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Prepaid Funeral Plans
One first step if you are planning a funeral for a loved one is to check whether they’ve purchased a funeral plan from a local funeral home. This could be mentioned in their will, saved in a box filled with important documents, or just floating among their belongings.
Often, prepaid funeral plans cover a major portion of funeral costs, including: the casket, use of the funeral home, embalming, catering for any events, a gravesite, a grave liner, and more. The downside to buying a funeral plan from a funeral home in advanced is that they often overcharge for their services. While it might take a load off of a person’s children and family, that money could go farther by purchasing life insurance or putting it into a funeral fund.
The payout from a life insurance claim often can cover all of the funeral costs, as long as the person was reasonably healthy when they first bought it. Depending on different factors, a life insurance plan could payout anywhere from $2,000 to $1 million.
Again, check your loved one’s will, important paperwork, employer, state government, tax returns, and more for signs they had an active life insurance plan. While it’s the job of the life insurance company to find the beneficiaries, things like outdated or incorrect contact information can make it too hard to locate you. Be proactive and see if there is money ready for you.
Be aware though that getting the pay out from a life insurance claim takes time, possibly up to 30 days. You might not get the money quick enough to pay for the funeral expenses. In this scenario, you might want to put the expenses on your credit card or take out a small personal loan. Then, when you do get the money, pay off those expenses immediately.
Sometimes, life insurance policies have an extra section with a quick payout to help cover funeral costs. It is even possible to buy a dedicated funeral insurance plan, which is generally the same as life insurance but with much lower premiums. Usually, the payout is much smaller than a full life insurance claim, typically ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.
Building a Funeral Fund
It’s quite possible though that you don’t have financial help coming from your deceased loved one, or there are problems preventing you from getting the money. Maybe the funeral bill is still going to be too large with that help, and you need to find other solutions. Instead of just relying on one source of money, or blowing all of your savings, try getting money from different places.
Funeral Financing Companies
There are some for-profit companies out there where their main purpose is to help you pay for a funeral. Two main scenarios they can help with are:
- Unable to secure life/funeral insurance money before funeral bills come due. In this case, the funeral financing company will pay the bills and then take the money plus a small fee when the insurance money does come in.
- Provide a loan that covers funeral expenses and then make a payment plan with you to pay it off with interest.
Just be aware that no matter what you do with them, funeral financing companies will cost you extra money in the long run. But, at least you can get through the funeral and then focus on the payments later, and possibly spread them out overtime. Just make sure that if you do take out a loan that it won’t be too much for you to handle and risk ruining your credit score.
Crowdsourcing for Funeral Expenses
While you might be the sole monetary provider for a funeral, that doesn’t mean you can’t ask friends and family for help. Crowdsourcing to raise money for hard times is becoming more common in the world, and if you have a large network of loved ones, can be a valid way to pay the bills.
For example, if you have 100 friends, and each of them pay ten dollars, that’s $1,000 right there. Plus, some very thoughtful people will donate larger amounts of money, especially if they see you struggling.
The key to a good crowdsourcing campaign is to spread the news to everybody. Sharing it a couple of times on social media isn’t enough. Tell people at your work, church, clubs, whatever you are involved in. The more people that can pitch in a few dollars, the better off you’ll be.
Don’t expect a crowdsourcing campaign to pay for the whole funeral though. It may pay for half, or even most of it, but it’s likely you’ll only get some money. Maybe it will be enough to pay for a casket, or cover the costs of cremation.
Charities That Help With Funeral Costs
Depending on different circumstances, you might qualify for help from charities. Especially if your loved one passed away from a disease like cancer, some charities have services to help pay for funerals. This will require some research to find both local and national charities, but could be a way to get some much needed help.
You should also check with your local and state government to see if they offer financial aid for funeral costs. Some states have programs to help cover the costs of cremation or burial, but it varies from place to place.
By getting costs down as much as possible, and then finding help funding the funeral, it is possible to plan an appropriate service to you loved one without breaking your savings. It might require some extra work during your time of mourning, but it is possible to do. Then, since you know how hard it is to handle the affairs of another, consider taking some time and plan out your own estate and funeral, so your family won’t have to do the same for you.
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Ben Allen is a freelance content creator and digital marketer who believes in helping small businesses succeed. He spends his free time bragging about his two daughters, eating stuffed crust pizza, and playing video games.
This post was updated February 28, 2019. It was originally published January 15, 2018.