A study completed by the U.S. Census Bureau determined approximately 32% of America’s working population is defined as “low-income” from a legal and financial perspective.

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Isn’t this interesting?

This number indicates the financial position many citizens find themselves in when a loved one passes away. It can quickly become a moment filled with grief, confusion, and many newfound concerns.

For those in a situation of this nature, it’s essential to understand what can be done to minimize costs while respecting your loved one’s memories.

Here’s an in-depth guide on assistance with funeral costs for low-income families.

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Average Funeral Costs

The funeral cost may vary depending on the state and service provider. However, a study completed by the National Funeral Directors Association believes the average cost in America comes out to be approximately $8,500.

Please note, this does not include additional fees such as flowers, transportation of the body, and the burial site. When you add these, the costs may rise significantly. This is why it’s best to look around and find a cost-efficient solution.

On the same note, the same association noted that a traditional cremation is around $6,000. However, many examples exist where cremation services are no more than $1,000. Similar to conventional burials, this will vary based on the service provider and their going rates.

Due to this gap in pricing, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of cremations around America in recent times.

Established Regulations for Funerals

Before looking at ways to reduce funeral costs, it’s crucial to understand one’s rights from a legal perspective.

In general, funeral home providers cannot force specific goods and/or services into a package without an option to decline. This means if certain services are deemed unnecessary, they cannot charge individuals for them under the assumption of a “package” deal.

Funeral home providers should also provide all relevant pricing information as soon as they are asked to by a prospective client. They cannot ask for personal information before doing so.


The funeral home provider is also expected to put together a “General Price List,” which signifies what the client receives once a deal has been struck. This information must be written clearly, and applicable charges should reflect what is found in the GPL.

Individuals seeking a brand-new casket should have full access to a printed list of prices. This includes anything in the inventory that is available for sale even if it is not put out for display.

On the same note, there’s no pre-requisite for buying a new casket when it comes to cremations because caskets aren’t mandatory. As a result, the funeral home has to offer alternatives. If this means an external casket is purchased and brought to the funeral home provider, then that is a viable option and has to be accepted.

It’s vital to remember these funeral rights as a loved one to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Ways to Cut Costs for Funerals

As mentioned above, there’s a significant difference between traditional burials and direct cremations. These differences in fees can make all the difference in the world from a financial point of view.

Since cremations don’t comprise traditional burial processes, they’re also far more affordable economically.

It’s easier to avoid costs, including a separate casket for the burial or having to set up a viewing. These costs are up to the individual and aren’t mandatory for cremation. In fact, there’s no built-in requirement to find a burial spot for cremations because of how the process works.

The actual cremation is going to be handled by professionals and is included in the overall pricing structure from day one. Low-income families can save a considerable amount of money due to this reason alone. In general, a third-party provider completes most of these services and will come out to be approximately $250-$500.

Please note:

The funeral home providers may add fees on top of the essential cost as a markup for their involvement. Keep an eye out for this and make sure you pay the right amount.

For those looking to purchase a casket for the body, it will come out to be $500+. However, this isn’t mandatory for cremations and is more of a preference depending on what’s required. In some situations, it is wiser to rent a casket for $400 or so and save money since you can return it once the cremation is done.

To ensure this is the case, funeral home providers keep simple containers to hold the body before an urn is purchased.

Additional tips to keep in mind:

1) Direct Cremations are Often the Most Economical Option
2) Avoiding a Casket is the Biggest Money-Saver
3) Keep the “Extras” to a Minimal
4) Make sure to Ask for a Full-Fledged Pricing List From All Funeral Home Providers
5) Never Expect Freebies From a Professional Service
6) Ask for the Exact Crematory Fees In Advance

Can Medicaid Pay for Funeral Costs?

Medicaid is an exciting topic with regard to funeral costs and may seem like an excellent option to keep in mind.

However, Medicaid and/or Medicare are not responsible for funeral assistance. For individuals looking to find a federal option for funeral assistance, it’s possible to receive approximately $1,500 in the form of a Medical Savings Account (MSA). This account can hold all funeral-related funds without taxing them. This ensures the funds are only used when the person passes away, as listed in the contractual agreement.

Please note:

There are instances where a spouse and/or parent can receive Social Security benefits on behalf of their loved one. This can help manage some of the fees associated with a funeral. For example, the U.S. government provides around $255 as a death benefit once the Social Security Administration has been alerted. To do this as soon as possible, please take the time to call 800-772-1213 and/or visit a local federal office in the region.

List of Eligible Charities and Non-Profit Organizations

There are several options available for low-income families, and it’s smart to look into each one before deciding. There are many ways to acquire financial assistance regardless of one’s situation.


An example of this can be seen in Funeral Advantage, a membership program set up by the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society. They are a non-profit organization designed to help with funeral-related expenses. They can help with most funeral-related services by offering discounted rates, which can easily lead to thousands of dollars in savings.

Religious organizations can also offer access to burial options through their pre-developed benevolence fund. It’s important to ask around if this is something the family is associated with in their community.

Eligible charities and organizations that help with funeral expenses:

  • Funeral Consumers Alliance
  • Jesse’s Grant Marker Program
  • The TEARS Foundation
  • Six Feet Over
  • Yatoomas Foundation For The Kids
  • Plots for Tots (Infant Burial Program)

Feel free to reach out to one or all of these organizations as soon as possible. They are willing to assist and will provide an all-encompassing list of funeral-related resources to help low-income families.

Final Thoughts

Low-income families should never feel exhausted or frustrated by burial expenses. By understanding the intricacies of funeral costs and what’s budget-friendly, it’s easier than ever before to make a cost-efficient decision.


Meet Mark Orourke, a seasoned funeral insurance expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry (Bachelor in Finance from SDSU, CA). With a passion for helping families prepare for the unexpected, Mark has dedicated his career to providing personalized funeral insurance solutions. Meeting the unique needs of each client is what Mark always prioritizes.