Paying For A Loved One’s Funeral: What Are The Options?

When you lose someone close to you there are lots of things to think about. While you may be feeling very emotional, probate and finances have to be thought about. When it comes to the cost of a funeral, it can work out to be very expensive. In the US, for example, the average funeral costs in the range of $9,000. 

Not everyone will have that kind of money readily available, so what are the options? The good news is that you can save money on a funeral and options are available to help cover costs.

Options if You Can Plan Ahead

Purchase Funeral Insurance

Very few insurance companies offer specific funeral insurance. Instead, many will sell small whole life insurance policies with the intention that they are used to cover funeral costs. 

If you purchase one of these you’re ensuring that money is available for relatives to use to cover the cost of your funeral. 

Pre-pay for Your Funeral

Pre-planning and pre-paying for your funeral in advance is another option. You make the arrangements with a funeral home and lock in rates which makes things more affordable. 

Pre-paying for your funeral reduces the stress for those you leave behind. However, you must ask some questions, such as:

  • What happens to your money if the funeral home goes out of business or is sold?
  • Can you change to a different funeral home? Unfortunately, funeral plans tend not to be transferable. 

It’s also important that you let family and friends know you’ve made the purchase.  

Organize a Payable-on-Death Bank Account

Why not set aside money for your funeral in a payable-on-death bank account? The money is not accessible while you’re still alive, but your loved ones will be able to access it after your death without having to wait for probate to be settled. 

If You Need to Pay For a Loved One’s Funeral

Start a Crowdfunding Campaign

“Ever Loved” and other similar crowdfunding platforms make it possible to raise money to cover funeral costs directly from a memorial website. 

You may be surprised by the support that’s shown by your local community. It might be possible for the funeral to be paid for in full, through a crowdfunding platform and the support of family and friends.

You just have to create a memorial website and use the Sympathy Gifts option to suggest donations to help cover funeral expenses.   

Take Out a Funeral Loan

This is simply a loan you take out to pay for a funeral. They tend to be easy and quick to get but often come with high-interest rates. 

Set Up a Payment Plan

It might be possible to set up a payment plan with your local funeral home, rather than paying for the funeral upfront. 

Use Life Insurance

It’s often possible for life insurance payouts to be available within a couple of weeks, however, it’s not uncommon for them to take more than a couple of months. If you’re the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, it is possible to use this money to pay for the funeral of your loved one. 

Veterans’ Benefits

If your loved one was a veteran, The Department of Veterans Affairs will cover certain burial and funeral costs, even if their death wasn’t service related.

Social Security Death Benefit

If you go to the trouble of applying for the Social Security Death Benefit, you’ll be paid out a one-time $255 death benefit. It’s only available for next of kin or other designated survivors, but it can help cover several smaller funeral expenses.  

Donate Your Loved One’s Body to Science

One final option is to donate your loved one’s body to science. Normally, advanced registration is required for whole body donation programs. However, many allow the next of kin to register. 

Most of these programs will cover transportation and cremation costs, following the medical research. What this means for those left behind is that all necessary costs are paid for and there is no need for the services of a funeral home. You still have the option of holding a celebration of life or memorial service that you organize yourself. 

Final Thoughts

One final thing to remember is that the amount you spend on your loved one’s funeral is not a direct correlation to how much you loved them or how meaningful a funeral feels.

Your loved one wouldn’t want you to get yourself into a bad financial situation and pay for a funeral that you can’t afford. Just because the average cost of a funeral in the US is $9,000, it doesn’t mean you have to spend that much. 

Now you know more about your options, you can plan a funeral for yourself or a loved one that commemorates and celebrates their life.