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What are the Cheapest Burial Options?

Funerals are expensive and burials happen to be one of the pricier methods of disposition. Even though it’s on the pricey side, many families still see the burial as the preferred way to lay one’s loved one to rest. If you’re struggling with money but still need to plan a burial, here are some things to consider.

What is the cheapest way to be buried?

An immediate burial (also known as a direct burial) is one of the cheapest ways to bury someone. Immediate burials take place right after a death has occurred and do not involve a viewing or service for the body. This lets families skip the embalming fee, the viewing fee, and the fees for using the facilities to host a funeral service.

Other ways to save money on burial expenses include:

  • Choosing a simpler casket. In addition, try to purchase the casket online. Purchasing online is almost always less expensive than purchasing directly from the funeral home.
  • Picking a burial plot in a public cemetery instead of a private cemetery. Private cemeteries generally cost more than public cemeteries.
  • Ensuring you price shop at different funeral homes and cemeteries to get the best deal.

Immediate burials

An immediate burial is usually one of the cheapest burial options and is a great choice for those who don’t want to hold a viewing or for those who are looking to plan the cheapest funeral possible. Some pros to immediate burials include:

  • Immediate burials are quick. Skipping the viewing means less time spent, less money spent, and less planning involved for the family.
  • Immediate burials are much more affordable. Immediate burials avoid the viewing and the embalming fee since the person who passed away is buried without these services taking place. Since there isn’t a viewing, an expensive casket isn’t necessary and families can instead purchase a less expensive or simpler casket.
  • Immediate burials are more environmentally friendly. With an immediate burial, the body is left to decompose naturally (as opposed to being embalmed, which uses chemicals to help slow the decaying process).

Green burials

Green burials happen in green cemeteries and involve no embalming. Green burials also require the body to be buried in a natural container (usually a

Green burials are burials that follow a certain set of criteria that was set by the Green Burial Council. The criteria includes the following:

  • The body hasn’t been embalmed or was embalmed using only specified fluids that have been approved by the Green Burial Council.
  • The body is buried in a burial shroud or natural container that is made out of biodegradable and natural materials, without a concrete or metal vault.
  • The body is buried in a “green cemetery”. Green cemeteries restrict the size, type, and visibility of certain memorial markers so that the natural view and focus in the cemetery is instead on the plants native to the land.

Green burial is only available in select cemeteries, so you’ll need to []find a cemetery near you]() that performs this type of burial. Green burials usually cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000+, which can be within the range of a direct burial.

How can I bury someone with no money?

If you have absolutely no money and simply cannot afford to bury someone, there are options available to you. To start, you’ll want to look into local government programs that may be able to assist you. Here’s some of the programs to look into if you’re tight on cash and need financing for a burial.

Consider donating the body to science

Donating the body to science will typically cost you nothing and depending on the organization, you’ll have the cremated remains returned to you. While this isn’t a burial option, it is an option for those who simply can’t afford a funeral in any way. This option is usually free and is additionally a massive help to the scientific and medical community.

Social Security Death Benefit

If you have no money and can’t afford a burial, the Social Security death benefit isn’t going to cover the cost of a funeral or a burial. That being said, it can help you with other expenses that go along with losing someone and is worth looking into. When someone dies, Social Security will pay out a one-time death benefit to either the next of kin or another qualified family member. You can only apply for this benefit over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213.

Veteran’s Benefits

Eligible service members can apply for veterans benefits and the benefits can vary depending on whether or not the veteran was in VA hospice at the time of death as well as whether the death was non-service related or service related.

For a service-related death, the VA can pay up to $2000 for funeral and burial expenses. They will also cover transportation costs and some other additional expenses. You can find more information about these benefits on their website.

If the Veteran was hospitalized by the VA at the time of death and the death was non-service related, the VA will pay up to $796 towards funeral expenses.

To apply for VA Benefits:

Local city, county, and state programs

Many states, cities, and counties will offer financial assistance for funeral expenses to those in need who meet certain requirements. This is especially the case for those living below the poverty line. While the type of assistance offered and amount of funds given varies based on your state, city, and county, it’s worth looking into all three levels of government assistance.

Charities that may be able to help

Children's Burial Assistance

This non-profit organization helps families who have recently lost a child by donating burial vaults, plots, caskets, urns, and additional financial support. Based out of Georgia, Children's Burial Assistance has helped families nationally by donating over $900,000 to help cover the cost of funeral expenses for parents who have recently lost a child. To apply for assistance from Children's Burial Assistance, fill out their online application form.

Final Farewell

Final Farewell is a non-profit organization that helps with funeral expenses for children. If you’re a parent of a child who passed away recently and having difficulties covering the burial expenses, you will want to check out this organization. Final Farewell accepts applications on their website.

The TEARS Foundation

The TEARS Foundation is another organization that helps families who have recently lost a child, both financially and by providing resources. The TEARS foundation offers different levels of assistance based on the age of the child who has passed away. The type of assistance offered can also vary depending on the state you live in. For a full breakdown of requirements and eligibility, visit their website.

To apply for assistance, fill out their online application form.

Funeral fundraiser

A funeral fundraiser can be an excellent source of funds during your time of need. Many families and friends are searching for ways to support a loved one after they’ve lost someone and you may find yourself surprised by the outpouring of support your community shows. Everyone knows funerals are expensive and that losing someone is an incredibly difficult experience, so they’re likely going to want to donate to your fundraiser to help out. Once you’ve created a fundraiser, be sure to share it with as many people as possible to maximize the amount of folks who see the memorial website.

Start a fundraiser

Look into financial assistance offered by your county, city, or state

Many counties, cities, and states offer financial assistance to families and individuals who are struggling to cover funeral expenses. While your state may not offer benefits, your city might or your county might so it's worth checking into these programs at every level.

Turn the body over to the state

If you aren’t able to find any assistance whatsoever and aren’t able to pay the funeral expenses, the last resort is to turn the body over to the state. You will need to get in touch with the coroner and let them know you are unable to cover the costs of the funeral and release the body. Once the body is released, the state will handle the arrangements. It’s important to note that in this case, the body would likely be cremated, not buried.

Burying someone is difficult enough as it is -- if you’re struggling to cover funeral expenses, look to your community for help. Starting a funeral fundraiser can help you collect donations to cover unexpected funeral costs. If you’re in need of assistance, you can start a fundraiser and see donations in as little as two business days.

Start a fundraiser

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Last updated June 15, 2022
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