Do Funeral Homes Offer Payment Plans?

Updated

With the cost of funerals on the rise, it’s normal to wonder about payment options. One of the most common questions is whether funeral homes offer payment plans. Many families worry about how to pay for a funeral, especially in high-cost areas. 

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With that in mind, funerals work a bit differently than other types of purchases. Though funerals cost upwards of $2,000, it’s not always possible to pay for a funeral in installments. The funeral industry is in the business of making money, and most expect the full cost of a funeral upfront. In this guide, we’ll explore whether funeral homes offer payment plans as well as other options. 

Can You Pay for a Funeral in Installments?

First, let’s answer the pressing question. Is it possible to pay for a funeral in installments? While you might be able to make payments for big purchases over time (with or without interests), this isn’t usually the case for funerals. This is a luxury that unfortunately doesn’t apply to the funeral industry. 

It’s important to keep in mind that funeral homes are businesses. Because they need to receive the full payment, this is usually required before they proceed with funeral plans. There are instances of funeral homes holding final services only for the family not to pay after the fact. This is why most require an upfront payment. 

When do funeral homes allow installments?

In some cases, funeral homes might allow installment payments. However, this is far from the norm. If you’re able to provide proof that you can afford the full cost of the funeral, some providers might be willing to work with you. You might need to show a paystub, credit score, etc. 

On the other hand, if you’re looking to pre-pay for a funeral, this can be done through installments. While not right for everyone, many people choose to prepay for a funeral in advance. This can be part of someone’s retirement plan, advance planning, or so on. By paying in advance, families reduce the burden for loved ones in the end. Payment plans are the norm for pre-paid funerals.

Who pays for funeral arrangements?

Another common question is who pays for funeral arrangements. It’s not always clear who’s responsible for funeral costs, and this could lead to a lot of misunderstandings. In short, nobody is responsible to pay for funeral arrangements. The burden falls on the estate of the deceased, though it’s common for families to contribute. 

If the family is unable to afford final arrangements, there are a lot of alternatives. There are benefits available through the state, local communities, and even some funeral homes. Remember that the only legal entity responsible for payment is the estate of the deceased. These funds are taken before any funds or assets are distributed amongst heirs. 

How Would You Talk to a Funeral Home About a Payment Plan?

If you’re unable to pay for the full cost of a funeral upfront, talk to your funeral home. Funeral directors are compassionate professionals, and they understand that families often struggle to make ends meet when it comes to final expenses. It’s already hard enough losing a loved one. The last thing you want to worry about is the cost of a funeral. 

Asking your funeral home for help is a great first step. Not only can they suggest cheaper, inexpensive options, but they can also work with any budget. Some funeral homes have programs available to help families with limited resources. Though payment plans through the funeral home aren’t common, they might be affiliated with groups that do offer assistance programs. 

You should never feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about funeral repayment. This is a cost everyone deals with at some point, and prices are rising for everyone. Your funeral director is familiar with budgets of all shapes and sizes, and it's their job to help without judgment. 

Alternatives to Paying for a Funeral If You Can’t Set Up a Payment Plan

Not only are there charities that help with funeral costs, but there are also other options. If you can’t set up a payment plan through your funeral home, these alternatives below help you make ends meet. 

Check for life insurance

First, it’s always important to check if your loved one has a life insurance policy. Even if you’re not aware, they might have an existing policy. This is something that’s often covered by one’s employer as well. You can ask their employer about potential coverage, as well as check through their personal records. 

Claim Social Security benefits or veteran benefits 

Another option if you can’t pay for a funeral upfront is to claim any Social Security benefits or veteran benefits. If the deceased loved one worked, they’re entitled to a lump-sum benefit from the Social Security Administration. If they were a veteran, they might be entitled to a veteran burial or cremation.

Start a campaign

It’s becoming more common for families to crowdfund help for funerals. If you’re open to asking for help from friends, family, and members of your community, crowdfunding is a great option. This allows people to come together to offer assistance. You can fundraise digitally, through in-person events, or through other creative endeavors. 

Check for local assistance

There are many states and cities that offer aid for those in need. These groups understand that it’s hard for everyone to afford funerals, especially since costs are on the rise. Local assistance in the form of repayment assistance, grants, and donations make all the difference. 

Choose an inexpensive option

Many people aren’t familiar with their different options when it comes to final arrangements. While traditional burial is the most well-known, this isn’t your own choice. Some more affordable options include direct cremation, green burial, or full body donation to science. These are significantly less expensive, and they can be just as meaningful to grieving family members. 

Consider a funeral loan or credit

Though this should be considered a final step, you can also take out a loan or line of credit for funeral costs. This is a type of personal loan that’s used for funeral expenses. If you can’t pay for the funeral upfront but have a payoff plan, this could be a safe choice. However, this should only be an option if you’ve exhausted other methods first. This is still a loan, and it has the potential to negatively impact your credit if you’re not careful. 

Shop around for providers

You don’t have to go with the first funeral home you find. In fact, it’s best that you don’t. Because this is a large purchase, it’s a smart idea to shop around for different prices. You can always ask for clear pricing options upfront. Doing your research before signing a contract with a funeral home can save you a lot of funds. 

Purchase funeral products online

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to purchase some things outside of the funeral home. You can purchase things like caskets, urns, and so on from third-party providers to save money. This is especially true if you’re willing to shop online. Many online funeral retailers are just as trustworthy, and they can save you a pretty penny.

Is a Funeral Payment Plan Worth It?

Finally, is it worth getting a funeral payment plan? If you’re able to pre-pay for a funeral, this can be a good way to put your family’s mind at ease. Because you can choose your desired services and products, you also have a lot of control over this situation. You can set aside your money now, and this means it doesn’t have to be handed over all at once. 

However, like all investments, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. You need to have a plan in place to make sure you can make your regular payments on time. If you fail to stick to your pre-payment schedule, you run the risk of losing your investment. There are also some things to understand about funeral home pre-payment plans:

  • Change your mind: If you change your mind at a later date, you usually can’t transfer this package to another provider. You need to be certain in your decision. 
  • Stay in business: Because these plans are not transferable, you’ll be out of luck if the funeral home goes out of business before the plan is used. 
  • Location: These plans are also very location-dependent. If someone dies away from home, for example, it can be hard to transport the deceased to his or her planned funeral home. 
  • Contract: Lastly, because you’re locked into a contract with a specific provider, you have much less flexibility in terms of features or services. 

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to funeral pre-payment. If it’s something that will help you have peace of mind around your own mortality and final wishes, it might be the right choice for you. Like all big financial decisions, consider the long-term impact. 

Understanding Funeral Payment Options

As you can see from this guide above, most funeral homes don’t allow families to pay in installments. It’s typically required to pay for the entire funeral in full before the service takes place. This is to protect the funeral home, but it can place a large burden on families. 

The best way to reduce stress around your final arrangements is to plan in advance. Create your free final plan to share with your loved ones today. There’s no such thing as too early to get started. 

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