List of 11 Ways to Get a Free Cremation in Illinois


It’s no secret that final expenses are far from affordable. If you’re planning a cremation for a loved one, you might be wondering what options there are in your state to keep costs low. The rules and regulations around final expenses depend on where you live, so it’s helpful to look at state-specific recommendations. Is it possible to get a free cremation in Illinois?

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While most people have a basic understanding of how cremation works, it’s not always clear how this impacts the overall price. Luckily, there are more options than ever before to keep costs low. Free cremations are far from the norm, but knowledge is power. The more you understand your options, the easier it becomes to keep your costs low. In this guide, we’ll explore the ways to get a free cremation in Illinois. 

Will the State of Illinois Pay for a Cremation?

First, will the state of Illinois pay for the cost of cremation? In short, the answer is yes. While many states don’t provide any state-wide assistance, this isn’t the case in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Human Services has what’s called the Funeral and Burial Unit. This is a government-led department that specifically helps families cover final expenses after a loss. 

To be eligible, families need to apply and demonstrate they have limited assets. Families who qualify can receive up to $1,103 for funeral costs and an additional $552 for burial costs (or cremation). The overall amount spent by the family cannot exceed $2,000 for cemetery costs and an additional $2,000 for funeral expenses. 

There are a lot of requirements when applying. Most importantly, the claim needs to be submitted to the state within 30 days after the death, or else there needs to be a written statement explaining the delay. If the deceased person was receiving state benefits (or they were eligible), odds are this is a good fit for them. 

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Places or Programs That Offer Free Cremation in Illinois

With that in mind, where can you find free cremation in Illinois? There are a few places and programs that offer free cremation for families in need. There are different strengths and weaknesses to each of these options. 

1. Donation to science

First, the easiest way to get a free cremation in Illinois is through anatomical donation programs. Also known as a full-body donation, this is when you donate your body to science. Not only does your donation go toward medical research and training, but it also furthers healthcare as a whole. 

The real advantage of full-body donation is that it’s a free option for all. When you donate your body to science, you get a no-cost cremation when your body is no longer needed. In many cases, your ashes are returned to your loved ones as well. If you’re interested in full-body donation, the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois is here to help you find the right program. 

2. Veteran assistance

Another option for people in Illinois is to seek veteran assistance. If your loved one was a veteran, he or she might qualify for aid through the VA office. There are many veteran death benefits designed to reduce the financial burden for veterans and their families. 

You can apply for the veteran’s burial allowance (up to $300) through the VA. This is something you can apply for online or through your local VA office. In some cases, families might qualify for a veteran headstone or urn. 

3. Local charities or organizations

Though it might not be as easy to find, many local charities and organizations help cover funeral costs. With many charities that help with funeral costs, there’s something for everyone. If you’re a member of a church, local organization, or service group, these can be a great source of support. 

4. Crowdsourcing

Lastly, another option is to crowdsource funeral expenses. When you crowdsource or crowdfund, you seek financial help from your community. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to share your story digitally. You can share your donation link online, in person, and at local community spaces. 

While not a great fit for everyone, crowdfunding is a great way to get help fast. You’d be surprised how much it helps when people come together for a cause. 

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Tips for Saving Money on Cremation in Illinois

With that in mind, there are a lot of other ways to save money on cremation in Illinois. Not everyone qualifies for a free cremation, so it’s good to know your options. These tips below reduce the overall financial burden, making it easier to create a meaningful final sendoff. 

5. Choose direct cremation

First, the easiest way to save money on cremation in Illinois is to choose direct cremation vs. traditional cremation. With a traditional cremation, the body is usually present for the funeral service. In addition, there are other steps taken to prepare the body for cremation, like embalming, washing, and more. 

With direct cremation, on the other hand, there are no extra steps taken. The body is cremated soon after death, keeping costs low. A direct cremation starts at around $500 compared to a more expensive traditional cremation. 

6. Shop around 

Another option is to shop around for a better price on your cremation. Like any other big purchase, you don’t have to choose the first crematorium or funeral home you find. These facilities have to be upfront about their prices and costs. By asking about the fees in advance, you can choose the best fit for your budget. 

7. Rent a casket 

If you choose to have the body of your loved one present at the funeral service, you don’t have to purchase a new casket just for this. Most funeral homes allow you to rent a casket to use temporarily. 

This is a sanitary, secure option that costs significantly less. In this case, the body is moved to a cremation casket for the actual cremation, saving money and materials.

8. Hold an alternative memorial

There are no requirements that you have to hold a traditional funeral or memorial service for your loved one. Some people would prefer their families to skip these events altogether. It’s entirely up to your loved one’s wishes. 

Alternatives include an at-home memorial service, celebration of life, or even a family dinner. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box to honor your loved one without opting for an expensive venue. 

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9. Purchase an urn online

Next, you never have to purchase a casket through your funeral director. While they might have options available that are easy to buy, this isn’t something that’s required. It can be more expensive to buy an urn through your funeral home, and this doesn’t reflect on the quality of the urns. 

On the other hand, if you purchase an urn online, you can shop around for exactly what you’re looking for. Not only do you have more options, but you also can find something suitable for any budget and style. 

10. Plan ahead

If possible, planning ahead is a great way to save money. When you plan ahead with funeral savings and final expense insurance, it’s easy to reduce the burden for your family. While this might not be possible if someone passes unexpectedly, it’s something everyone should keep in mind. 

It’s hard to think about the future, especially when that future involves your mortality. The more proactive you can be with your savings and insurance options, the easier this becomes for your loved ones when the time comes. 

11. Skip the funeral home

Lastly, you can save a lot of money on cremation in Illinois if you skip working with a funeral home. If you choose an online funeral home or work directly with the crematorium, you don’t have to pay the funeral director fees. 

However, if you choose this option, you’ll need to handle most of the paperwork yourself. This isn’t always easy if you’re not familiar with the process. Luckily, many online funeral providers are making this simpler than ever before. For example, the Illinois Cremation Centers lets you easily arrange a direct cremation online.  

A Final Sendoff You Can Afford in Illinois

In conclusion, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to cremation. Depending on your wishes and your budget, you have different options. The more you understand the cremation process and what to expect, the easier it is to make arrangements for yourself or your loved ones. Everyone deserves a meaningful final sendoff. Luckily, thanks to these ideas above, this is possible no matter your income. 

Are you planning a funeral for a loved one? If so, make sure you’re on the right track. Our free, interactive post-loss guide is here to help every step of the way. We understand this process can be confusing. You’re not alone in this difficult time. How will your plans impact your legacy? How will you say goodbye to your loved ones in a way that makes sense to you?


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