Need Money to Cover Funeral Expenses TODAY?
Here are some ideas to find money and reduce costs:


Whole Body Donation 

COST: FREE within 50 miles of the University of Utah. Although the U of U prefers donors sign up ahead of time, the Next of kin to the deceased may call (University of Utah 801-581-6728) to give verbal consent immediately.

BEFORE you consent to embalming (embalming is done differently for donors): 

If a mortuary has the body, tell them that you wish to donate the body to the U of U Body Donor Program. If you have the body call the U of U Body Donor Program directly. You typically have about a week. You may hold a viewing or funeral before donating the body!

The ashes will be buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery or you may request the ashes be returned to the family.


The following circumstances at the time of death disqualify a body for study:

  • major recent surgery

  • traumatic accident

  • autopsy

  • ascites (severe abdominal fluid retention)

  • edema

  • obesity

  • contagious disease (such as HIV, Hepatitis, Jacob Kruetzfeld or Tuberculosis)

  • jaundice

  • organ donation other than skin and eyes (Using your drivers license you can alter your organ donor details. For example you can say "skin & eyes only" on the Donor Registry: )

Find the Contract & Change Your Mind
Funeral Licensure Rules read:

R156-9-617. Goods and Services Not Provided - Refund.

If goods or services selected in the preneed contract are not provided at the time of need, the amount paid for those goods and services and any unexpended earnings thereupon will be distributed to the preneed contract buyer or the buyer's representative or in their absence, the buyer's heirs and beneficiaries.

Sometimes a contract for services has been purchased through a funeral home but no one knows it. Hunt for it. If you find a contract with a funeral home and the package is too fancy, then you can use less of the products or services it states and apply the proceeds to pay for unexpected costs such as non-resident burial or body transport etc. For instance switch to cremation so you afford a cemetery plot etc


Crime Victim's Reparation


You may be able to apply for reimbursement of funeral and burial related expenses:


Search for Death Benefits


Most benefits are not automatic and must be applied for. So be sure to find out if the deceased was a member of:

  • Veteran's Association (see below),

  • Fraternal organizations,

  • Employee unions,

  • Credit-unions, or

  • An employer death benefit plan

  • Social Security ($255 to surviving spouse or dependents living in the home),

  • Insurance (some car or homeowners insurances comes with a death benefit)


A "Pay Upon Death" Acct


It's possible that your loved one set up Pay-Upon-Death account that would be accessible by a family member, friend or lawyer in case of death.  In the old days this was called a Toten Trust.  It is an account with someone else's name included for access but only upon death (when the other person presents the death certificate to the bank). This allows money in that account to be used to pay immediate bills before the will is even read.


Public Appeals


Stories about fund-raisers are often seen in the news. If you go this route you need time. So don't feel pressured to do anything with the body before you have searched out your options to raise funds and reduce costs. Watch out for high refrigeration charges at most mortuaries.  They say they will charge a lot to pressure you to make fast decisions.  You CAN negotiate a reasonable storage fee or demand the body back.


If it turns out to be hard to raise funds consider that there are options to an over-priced box and paying someone to put on a meeting. See some solutions to this dilemma on our DIY page.


Veterans Benefits


COST FREE: Honorably discharged veterans get free burial at a National Veterans Cemetery.  Free burial often includes the grave, vault, opening and closing, marker, and setting fee.  Many State Veterans Cemeteries also offer free burial for veterans, and often, spouses too.

See more details on Veterans' benefits at the Utahs' Medical Examiners' Office site: 

To get buried in a Veterans' Cemetery you need a: "DD 214" This is a document of the United States Department of Defense, issued upon a military service member's retirement, separation or discharge from active-duty military.  If your DD214 is lost do not wait until after death to obtain one.


More info on veterans benefits at: and also:

Utah's Veteran Cemetery & Memorial Park  801-254-9036

17111 S Camp Williams Rd

Bluffdale, UT 84065


2013 Veterans burial benefits chapter here as a PDF


Reservists and National Guard retired personnel with 20 yrs of service are eligible for burial also, as are surviving spouses and dependent children (under rules established by the State of Utah: Just Google "Utah 71-7-3" to read it.


Utah Families can act as their own funeral director when caring for their veteran dead with proper paperwork from the Health Department's Vital Records Office (located in the county where death occurred). Family may bring their veteran to the cemetery themselves, make their own casket and bypass a mortuary completely, saving several thousand dollars. (see how on our "DIY Funeral" page)


Relatives Sharing the Cost


When no individual was assigned, prior to death, to control the disposition of remains, it falls to "the next of kin" to AGREE on what to purchase. Many find it difficult to buy a frugal & simple funeral in this situation.


So be as frank and open as possible and very cautious before accepting an offer from anyone to "pay for everything". They probably have no clue how quickly costs add up, will overly influence the purchases and then change their mind later, expecting you to "pitch in".


Church Offerings


Some families ask their congregation to help pay for a funeral. Most church leaders play a neutral role in decisions about what services you purchase.

When accepting money normally designated for people's living expenses consider the price comparison list on the right side-bar.

You'll also find on our DIY funeral page that you might not need to spend as much as you think to carry out a lovely funeral or memorial service and a respectful body disposition. There are untold blessings that come to family and friends who care for their dead personally.


Apply for Indigent Cremation


COST: FREE  If the deceased and responsible next of kin earned below the 2013 US Dept of Health and Human Services Poverty Guideline  then you may qualify. This is applied for through the contracted provider in the county where death occurred. See more details from Utahs' Medical Examiners' Office: 


Family may claim the ashes after cremation (One funeral home who fulfills contracts for indigent cremation scatters the ashes in a mountain meadow if no one claims them within 6 months after cremation).

OBITUARIES when the county pays for disposition:

Newspaper obituaries are very expensive so a death notice will be placed in the paper instead. Online Obituary Sites like, the or  will typically let you post a simple short-term obituary for free or an obituary with all the bells and whistles for $5/month or flat fee of $25 and up.


Comparison Shop Funeral Prices


One way to lower costs dramatically is to view our At-A-Glance Mortuary Price Comparison Chart (at the top right sidebar).


Another option is to bypass hiring a mmortuary all together, apply for the Death Certificate directly with the Vital Records office of the county where death occurred, make or buy a local casket. Hold your ceremony, funeral, wake or vigil at a chapel or home. Then transport the body in a van or truck to a crematory or to a cemetery that charges less (see our Simple Burial page for burial options since you will rack up about $2K in charges, even if you own a plot already).




If considering this form of disposition, know that multiple persons ashes may be buried in each plot in most cemeteries.  You may also bury without a container nearly anywhere for free.

A cremation should cost about $800. Family can still have a funeral beforehand and a burial afterward or a memorial service.  Many worry cremation is opposed by God. Get some perspective in this 2 page document: Scriptural and Religious Views on Modes of Disposition


Ask for and Accept Participation instead of Cash


It doesn't take a lot of people to pull off a lovely Memorial or Funeral but there are things that friends and family can do instead of hiring out. When a death occurs, many friends and neighbors want to do something. They might add to their condolences, "...please call if I can do anything.," not being at all sure what they really could do. That is a good time for you to offer a specific task.


Not all of the tasks below will apply to your situation, but consider who might...


  • Help with notifying family and friends, by phone or e-mail, Facebook or Twitter or Website?

  • Be in charge of obtaining the required paperwork (death certificate, burial transit or disposition permit, permit to cremate)?

  • Contact the cemetery, crematory, or medical school to schedule the body's arrival?

  • Prepare the body?

  • Make or purchase a casket or shroud?

  • Obtain dry ice or frozen gel packs, if needed?

  • Arrange for music?

  • Contact clergy or someone else to conduct the services (a basic meeting really)?

  • Transport of any flowers?

  • Cleaning, house-sitting or pet-sitting?

  • Meals or other refreshments?

  • Meet out-of-town guests at the airport?

  • Provide overnight accommodations for guests?

  • Collect and display photos or other memorabilia?

  • Plan services to be held, with or without the body present, closed or open casket?

  • Print programs?

  • Write an obituary? 

  • Write/deliver eulogies?

  • Video any events for the benefit of out-of-town family (not allowed in LDS chapels)?

  • Serve as pall bearers?

  • Transport the body or lend a vehicle?

  • Send thank you notes?

  • Apply for veterans benefits such as a marker and flag?


What to Do When You Can't Afford a Funeral

Price Shop Mortuaries
See right side of HOME page







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Lots of time to save up for a funeral?

Life insurance or Savings?

5 major ways to finance a funeral 

Has short clear info provided by FCA of Texas.