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How to Pay for Funeral Expenses with No Money

Saving for a funeral.

Life can come at you with unexpected events. One of these events is death. While death is one of the things in life that is certain, we never know when it may happen. We are never truly prepared for it—emotionally or financially. The average funeral cost in Texas is roughly $10,000. How would you cover that expense if your spouse, child, or parent suddenly died?

Not many people have that much money saved up, especially to pay for an unexpected funeral. What do you do now? Find out how to pay for funeral expenses with no money.

Think about Your Loved One’s Wishes

First thing first: you want to carry out your loved one’s final wishes if known. Did they specifically want to be buried, or did they prefer cremation? Cremation is much cheaper and can be done for around $1,000, so if that is the preferred option for your loved one, that saves a lot of money right there.

If they were advanced in age or terminally ill, they might have some sort of estate plan in place. Look for a will or trust that has any details about end-of-life plans. In some cases, funeral expenses are prepaid, so that would be a financial relief. If your loved one is an adult, the most important first step you can take is to find any possible pre-prepared estate plan to help you make the right decisions for your loved one.

Check for Life or Burial Insurance

Before you stress about how to pay for funeral expenses with no money, find out if your loved one had a life insurance policy. This is particularly common if they had a family. If there is a policy, find out who the beneficiary is so they can start the process of obtaining funds. Fortunately, life insurance policies are typically paid out quickly, so you don’t usually have to wait months to receive the money.

If there is no life insurance policy, there may be burial insurance available. This type of coverage specifically pays for burial and funeral costs and other final expenses.

Look for Military BenefitsVeteran's funeral.

Your deceased loved one could have death benefits you may not know about, so it merits some investigating to find out. Was your loved one in the military? If so, they may qualify for veterans’ benefits. The amount you could receive for reimbursement will depend on whether or not your loved one died during military service. Contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and they can help you understand the types of benefits available to help pay for your loved one’s funeral.

Check with the Government

Local, state, and federal governments may be able to provide some financial relief. If the deceased worked, they might be able to receive a one-time death benefit of $255 from Social Security. If your loved one died due to a natural disaster (such as flood or tornado) or a pandemic (think COVID-19), then you may be able to get relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agency has provided more than $100 million in COVID relief in Texas alone.

While the state of Texas does not provide financial assistance for burial or funeral costs, there is a limited amount of assistance available through each county. Your county administrator, coroner, or funeral director can refer you to the proper person. Also, the Department of Social Services or Department of Human Services may be able to help.

Don’t Overlook Other Programs and Benefits

To pay for funeral expenses with no money, you’ll need to do some research. Many organizations offer death benefits, but they’re not always widely publicized. If your loved one was a member of a union (such as for tradespeople) or a well-known organization, there might be benefits available. The same goes for certain employers (as part of a benefits program), so contact your deceased family member’s place of employment and see if any programs can help pay for final expenses. In addition, some banks or credit unions often hold small insurance policies on members who might have taken out loans or who keep savings in an account there, so check with your loved one’s banking institution.

Contact Charities

If your loved one participated in or donated to charities, ask them to help with funeral costs. Many charities can help out in some way. While they may not directly give you money for expenses, they may pay for certain aspects of the funeral, such as the burial plot or casket. If the deceased is a child, Final Farewell and Children’s Burial Assistance are two charities that may be able to help.

Contact Local Churches

A local church may be able to pitch in with the funeral costs, especially if your loved one was a member of a church or attended one regularly. While some may offer a free cremation or burial plot, others may not have much in terms of resources. However, they might allow you to hold a service there or cover food costs for a gathering afterward.

Ask about a Payment Plan

To pay for funeral expenses with no money, you will need to be honest about your situation. If you’re working with a funeral home, let them know up front about your finances. They may be able to offer affordable alternatives, such as discounts and other options for those who have limited funds. The funeral home may be able to work out an affordable payment plan with you or direct you to resources that can help.

Ask for DonationsAsking a loved one for money

To pay for funeral expenses with no money, you may have to relieve yourself of some of the financial burden and ask for help from others. See if family members and friends can chip in for burial and funeral costs. The conversation may be uncomfortable, but you may be surprised how many people would be willing to help.

If your loved one was well-known in the community or died under extraordinary circumstances, a plea for help on a crowdfunding site such as GoFundMe may be successful. Make sure to include a lot of information about your deceased family member and how they lived and died, as well as photos. Also, include a goal and deadline.

Honor Your Loved One Affordably

To pay for funeral expenses with no money, think about affordable alternatives. While you want to honor your loved one and keep their final wishes (if known) in mind, you can do so without overspending. Do some research on low-cost options. If you have a choice, opt for cremation, as it is roughly one-tenth of the cost of a burial. If your loved one prefers to be buried, get an itemized list of all the costs involved and pick and choose what’s important to you, rather than going for an expensive package. For example, you can skip the embalming, open-casket wake, and funeral service and opt for a direct burial. You can always hold a memorial service later at your own home or other free location.

Learn More with Power Finance Texas

There are many options to pay for funeral expenses with no money. The problem is that many people tend to overspend in this area because they are feeling emotional. Stay level-headed and stick to a plan. Know that there are a lot of resources that can assist you during this time of need. Power Finance Texas has many blogs and tips to help you save money in various aspects of life—and death.