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Funds for Farewell: 7 DIY Steps to Funding a Meaningful Funeral

With traditional funerals at a median price tag of about $8,000, many families scramble when there is a death, especially an unexpected one, to pay for their care.

Options to Pay for a Funeral

With traditional funerals often costing a median price of about $8,000, many families scramble for money when there is a death, especially an unexpected one. And that’s not surprising given that a federal study showed nearly four in 10 Americans could not afford a surprise $400 expense

And, while many people urge advance funeral planning, only about a third of us do it, leaving everyone else (about 70 percent of us) to figure it out when faced with the reality of their loss. 

So, if there's not enough money to cover your loved one’s funeral arrangements, what are the options? Here’s seven ideas of how to find funding for a meaningful goodbye.

1. Social Security Lump Sum Payment 

Though a small amount, the survivor of the loved one can receive $255 dollars in a lump sum payment from Social Security if they were living together. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment can go to child who is eligible. Loved ones may also be eligible for ongoing Social Security money.

2. Life Insurance 

According to end-of-life planning site, Cake, you can use life insurance payouts to cover “the memorial or funeral, as well as leftover medical bills, mortgage payments, taxes, and other related costs.”

3. Charitable Organizations and Churches

There are several nonprofits that provide funds for funeral expenses, especially those that involve the loss of children. You can also contact churches and charities in your area.

4. Employer or Union Benefits 

Some employers and unions offer survivor benefits to the family of the loved one that may defray or cover the cost of the funeral or memorial. 

5. Crime Victim Assistance 

Your state may have funds to help with your funeral costs if your loved one was a victim of a crime. The Office for Victims of Crime has information about how to contact your state office.

6. Veterans Death Benefits 

A veterans burial allowance helps pay for transportation, funeral, and burial costs for an eligible veteran. If the veteran qualifies, the VA will repay a fixed amount for these costs. The veteran must meet these eligibility requirements.

7. Crowdsources Fundraising 

Online sites like GoFundMe let you quickly set up a donation site where friends and family can contribute. These funds can be used for funeral expenses as well as other costs like travel for family members. 

Consumer Advice 

In addition to these seven funeral fundraising methods, it is important to note that your funeral director should help you find a memorial or funeral that makes sense for your budget.

You can find consumer tips on how to save money and be a savvy consumer at the Funeral Consumer Alliance website. Family members should also be aware that funeral arrangements are governed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which gives you many consumer rights under the Funeral Rule. For instance, you can purchase your own urn or casket and choose what services you’d like from the funeral home.

There is so much to deal with after the death of a loved one that financial concerns can feel overwhelming. We hope one of these seven fundraising solutions may work for you.

If you are reading this before you need to fund a funeral, you may also consider funeral insurance, pre-paying for a funeral or setting aside money in a “payable upon death” savings account.

Whatever financing method you choose, no matter how big or small your chosen goodbye is, we hope it is a meaningful tribute to your loved one.

To learn about another way to finance your chosen goodbye, check out our article: The Power of Crowdfunding: Revolutionizing Funeral Fundraising.