With the unexpected loss of a loved one, the last thing on your mind will be the financial matters of a funeral. Unfortunately, the decisions associated with costs will need to be made right away. Since funeral costs can average between $8,000 - $15,000, this can be a huge expense to families, most of which people may not be able to afford.
So, what happens if you cannot afford a funeral or need help with funeral costs? Luckily, there are options.
Who Pays for a Funeral?
Legally, the estate of the deceased is responsible for the cost of final funeral arrangements and the executor of the estate is responsible for the handling of bills. The person who signs the contract at the funeral home is required to pay the bill. So, before you call funeral homes it is important to decide what you can afford without sacrificing money for daily living expenses.
It is also important to remember that cost does not equate to how much you loved the deceased. A dignified funeral does not have to cost a fortune and it doesn’t reflect how much you cared for someone.
In some cases, states offer burial assistance. Florida has the Indigent Burial Program that is administered by each county’s administrative office. Typically, the Medical Examiner’s office and your local Office of Vital Statistics will have the name and telephone number of the person who facilitates this program in your county.
Lower Cost Ways to Pay for Funeral Expenses
Unfortunately, in the case of unexpected losses, there may not be time to pre-plan and research ways to make funerals more affordable. Here are some ways to pay for funeral expenses that can help with funeral costs:
Embalming – Embalming is not a requirement. The process is simply fluids injected into a body to slow decomposition and preserve the body so it can be publicly displayed in an open casket funeral.
Donation – Donating your body to medical research or science is one of the least expensive and most impactful funeral options available to people.
Home Funerals & Services – These are legal across the country although there are certain laws relating to the details of a home burial. In Florida you are still required to prepare the appropriate paperwork required by the Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics. Having your service at home also allows you to plan exactly how you would like to grieve with loved ones.
Direct Cremation – This is the most popular alternative to a traditional burial and is one of the most affordable options. Ashes can be kept in an urn, buried, or scattered. You can also skip a traditional memorial service and host a memorial or celebration of life service at your home.
Purchase Your Own Casket or Urn – These are often marked up by funeral homes, and they may also try to upsell you on their products. Purchasing online gives you more options, and you can even personalize to create a tribute to your loved one.
Flowers – Flowers don’t need to be expensive to be beautiful. Local florists may offer better prices than funeral homes and there are also online florists that will deliver arrangements.
Direct Burial – If you have already chosen against cremation it is possible to have a direct burial. This skips the process of having a formal funeral, viewing, or service. Some funeral homes may offer a graveside service at an additional cost. Keep in mind you will still need to pay for a burial plot. At in green cemeteries, you may be able to opt for a biodegradable casket or even a simple shroud which is more environmentally friendly.
Crowdfund – If you are going to have a traditional funeral with many attendees, it may be possible to crowdfund online and allow people to make donations to help with your costs. You may need the funds to pay the funeral home straight away so keep this in mind when planning one of these.
Payment Plans – Some funeral homes may offer payment plans and although this may not cut down on overall costs, it is a way to create a more manageable way that allows you to pay for funeral expenses without having to come up with a large sum of money.
There are a multitude of ways to help cut down the costs of saying goodbye to a loved one. If you find yourself in a difficult position, remember that cost in no way reflects on how much you cared, and make the right financial decision for you.