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9 Ways to Pay for a Funeral

When you lose someone close to you, the last thing you want to worry about is finances, but unfortunately, funerals can be very expensive—in fact, the average funeral costs a whopping $9,000.

Most people don’t have that much money readily available. The good news is that there are many easy ways to save money on a funeral, and if you still need financial assistance, there are several options available to help you cover costs.

If you’re able to plan ahead

  1. Purchase funeral insurance
    While most insurance companies doesn’t have a specific funeral insurance or burial insurance policy, many will sell you a small whole life insurance policy with the intention that it be used for funeral costs. By purchasing one, you can help ensure that the money is there for your relatives to cover your funeral costs without stress. Find and compare funeral insurance options here.

  2. Pre-pay for your funeral
    Many funeral homes will let you pre-plan and pre-pay for your funeral in advance, which can be a helpful way to reduce stress for your family when putting together your funeral. You may also be able to lock in rates, which could make things more affordable if prices go up. However, you should be careful to ask what will happen to your money if the funeral home is sold or goes out of business, or if you decide to change to a different funeral home. It’s also important to make sure that your close family members know that you’ve already made the purchase.

  3. Set up a payable-on-death bank account
    If you want to make sure your loved ones have money available to them immediately, you can set aside money for your funeral in a payable-on-death bank account. No one will be able to access the account while you’re still alive, but they’ll be able to access it after your death without having to wait for your estate to be settled.

If you need to pay for an impending funeral

  1. Start a crowdfunding campaign
    Just as you lean on your community for emotional support, you can also lean on them for financial support. Websites like GoFundMe make it easy to set up a campaign where others can donate to cover funeral costs. Share the link on your obituary or online memorial to easily spread the word.

  2. Take out a funeral loan
    A funeral loan is just a personal loan that’s used to pay for a funeral. They are generally pretty easy and fast to get, but personal loans often have high interest rates, so it’s a good idea that you make sure you feel comfortable paying it off in a reasonable time frame.

  3. Set up a payment plan with the funeral home
    Some funeral homes will allow you to make payments over time instead of paying for everything up front. If up-front costs are the concern, ask if the funeral home has a payment plan option.

  4. Use life insurance
    Life insurance payouts will often be available within 10-14 days (but be forewarned that payments can take up to 60 days). If you’re the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, you can use this money to pay for the funeral.

  5. Take advantage of veterans’ benefits
    If your loved one was a veteran, the Department of Veterans Affairs will cover certain funeral and burial costs, even if it wasn’t a service-related death. Learn more about what you may be eligible for here.

  6. Donate your loved one’s body to science
    While some whole body donation programs require advanced registration, many will allow the next of kin to register, and the vast majority cover transportation and cremation costs (following the medical research). This means that all necessary costs are paid for, and you don’t need the services of a funeral home. You can still chose to hold a memorial service or celebration of life that you organize on your own.

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that the amount you spend on a funeral is not correlated to how much you cared about the person or how meaningful the funeral feels. You never need to get yourself into a bad financial situation in order to cover funeral costs.

October 2018
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