15 Ways to Find Money & Reduce Costs TODAY
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 may call (University of Utah 801-581-6728) to give verbal consent immediately.
If a mortuary has the body, tell them that you wish to donate the body to the U of U Body Donor Program (embalming is done differently). Call the U of U Body Donor Program directly if you are not using a mortuary. You may have up to a week for 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 disqualify a body for study:
major recent surgery
ascites (severe abdominal fluid retention)
contagious disease (such as HIV, Hepatitis, Jacob Kruetzfeld or Tuberculosis)
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: www.yesutah.org )
Find the Contract & Change Your Mind
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. Example: switch to cremation to afford a cemetery plot.
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.
Crime Victim's Reparation
You may be able to apply for reimbursement of funeral and burial related expenses: https://crimevictim.utah.gov/
In some states if you start a "Go-fund me" before applying for 'victim reparations' you may be disqualified. Ask if that's the case in Utah.
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 (keep scrolling down for details),
Credit unions or banks
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.
Stories about fund-raisers are often seen in the news. If you go this route don't feel pressured to buy anything 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 Directors to put on a meeting (aka, a funeral or memorial service). See some solutions to this dilemma on our DIY page.
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: https://ome.utah.gov/our-services/financial-assistance
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: funerals.org and also:
Utah's Veteran Cemetery & Memorial Park 801-254-9036
17111 S Camp Williams Rd
Bluffdale, UT 84065
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
If no individual was assigned to control the disposition of remains prior to death, 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.
CAUTION: We have seen time and again, an offer from one family member to "pay for everything" (maybe they have a friend in the funeral biz from whom they think they can get a deal). They notoriously have no clue how quickly costs add up. When they get the bill (or their part of it) they change their mind, and expect you to pitch-in more, "after all you made the selections". Do yourself a favor and reduce costs up front no matter what help was offered.
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 survey of funeral homes we have done for you.
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: https://ome.utah.gov/our-services/financial-assistance
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 epassing.org, the eternalport.com or obituare.com 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 Mortuary Prices
One way to lower costs dramatically is to choose a more fair-priced mortuary in your section of Utah: At-A-Glance Mortuary Price Comparison Charts
Another option is to bypass hiring a mortuary 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).
Cremation reduces cemetery costs because two or three persons' ashes may be buried in each plot in most cemeteries (saving $1500 or more per burial).
You may also bury without a container or scatter ashes nearly anywhere for free.
A cremation should cost less than $1K. Family can still have a funeral before or a memorial service after. Many worry cremation is opposed by God. Gather more perspective in this 2 page document: Scriptural and Religious Views on Modes of Disposition
A Typical Basic Cremation Casket $150
Example of a Deluxe Cremation Casket $600
Some companies have survivor benefits available for the family of a deceased employee. Some unions may offer benefits to help cover or defray funeral costs.
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 they 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. So here is a list to help:
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?
Write an obituary?
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
Lots of time to save up for a funeral?
Has short clear info provided by FCA of Texas.