Alternative Ways to Pay for a Funeral
Most people do not have the $5,000 to $15,000 necessary to pay for a funeral outright. This kind of money, usually needed at the last minute and often in addition to high medical bills, is a serious burden on anyone who does not have a large savings account or disposable income.
Although a payment plan offered through a funeral home can help you spread out the cost of a funeral, this is not always a feasible option. (Either because they are credit-based or because you cannot guarantee the monthly payments.) If you have explored more traditional avenues for paying for a funeral and have come up empty, here are a few alternative ways to pay for a funeral.
It has becoming increasingly common (especially in the case of the sudden death of a young person or someone with a family) to see social media campaigns for financial assistance. These usually take place on a crowdfunding website and include a brief story, a financial goal, and a way for people to quickly and easily donate.
While these websites can and do help many families cover the entire cost of a funeral, there are so many requests that you should not expect anyone outside your own network to contribute. You will also be asked to pay a fee out of what is donated to cover the website’s costs.
If you find online requests for money to be too impersonal, consider looking locally. In addition to asking family members and friends for contributions if money is tight, you can also ask your church if they offer any kind of assistance. Even if they are unable to give you actual money for the funeral, they may be able to offer use of their facilities for free or discount the costs of the officiant.
Credit Card/Home Refinance
Although taking on any kind of debt to pay for a funeral is risky, it can sometimes be the best option. Most funeral homes accept credit cards, which allow you to make the payments on your own terms and in your own time. You might also consider refinancing a home or other large-collateral item, which can allow you to tap into the equity to access immediate funds.
(Note: These options work best when you are expecting a future insurance payout or money from an estate and you need to bridge the gap until that money becomes available.)
Body Donation/Scientific Studies
“Donate your body to science” is one of those phrases that is tossed around but rarely followed up on—mostly because it is not always easy to find a scientist with open calls for bodies. The organizations most likely to need human remains are universities, medical schools, and forensic science institutions, although your local coroner’s office may have a list of additional options.
In the event that you are one hundred percent unable to pay for a funeral, your city or county will take on the task of burying your loved one for you. You won’t have any say in how or where their body is disposed of, but you will get the peace of mind of knowing that they were laid to rest with respect.