List of 10 Ways to Get a Free Cremation in North Carolina

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Whether you’re planning for the future or handling a loved one’s final arrangements, the cost is often the biggest concern. While many people understand the basics of how cremation works, it can still be shocking to come to terms with the full cost of cremation. Ranging between $500 for a simple, direct cremation to upwards of $3,000, this is far from inexpensive. 

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With that in mind, how can you get a free or low-cost cremation? The options available to you vary by state and location. If you’re seeking a free cremation in North Carolina, you might be wondering what’s right for you. Since each state has its own laws and regulations around what happens to bodies after death, you need to understand the state-specific expectations. 

While it’s possible to reduce the overall cost of cremation, it’s good to know all of your options. In this guide, we’ll share the ultimate list of ways to get a free cremation in North Carolina. Read on to learn how to lay loved ones to rest without blowing your budget. Everyone deserves a beautiful final sendoff, but this doesn’t have to come at a pretty penny. 

Will the State of North Carolina Pay for a Cremation?

The first question many people ask when looking for free or low-cost cremation is about public services. Many states offer some form of low-cost or free burial or cremation assistance. This financial support is for those who are struggling to make ends meet or who don’t have loved ones to cover final expenses. 

Unfortunately, North Carolina doesn’t offer any statewide funeral or burial assistance. The most likely way to find support is through the county. Many counties have their own financial assistance programs available. 

Most counties across North Carolina offer what’s known as indigent family burial assistance. If the family has pursued all options and has no way to pay for a final burial or cremation, counties provide assistance. The same is true for unclaimed bodies where the family can’t be found. For example, Durham County’s Department of Social Services provides burial assistance for those in extreme need. 

Places or Programs That Offer Free Cremation in North Carolina

No matter your financial situation, there are options for you when it comes to free or low-cost cremations. While North Carolina is one of the most limited states in terms of public support programs, there are still community support systems in place. 

1. County social services

First, the best place to seek help isn’t at a state level but at a county level. As explained above, North Carolina doesn’t provide state-wide support for burial and cremation assistance. That being said, many counties offer their own assistance for those facing extreme needs. 

The best way to get started is to contact your county social services department directly. The North Carolina Judicial Branch shares clear contact information through its online portal. However, note that most counties only offer help to those with no resources or family ties. This means you’ll have to have evidence of extreme hardship. When in doubt, your funeral home can help connect you to local resources. 

2. Full body donation

Next, if you choose full body donation, this usually includes a free cremation at no cost to the family. There are various anatomical donation programs across the country, and this is a common option in North Carolina. Because North Carolina has very flexible laws around body donation for the purpose of medical research, this is very easy to handle on behalf of a loved one.

For example, the University of North Carolina has a very clear body donation form that works with families to authorize full-body donation. These bodies not only get a respectful cremation for free, but they also contribute to helping the medical community. Donating your body to science furthers medical research, training, and education. In other words, it’s an act of compassion and service. 

3. Veteran benefits

If your loved one was a veteran who served the country, the VA might help with final expenses. While the VA doesn’t pay money to specific providers, they provide reimbursement for surviving family members. This means the family might need to be able to pay upfront for the cost of a cremation or burial. 

Eligible families can apply for veteran death benefits through the VA online or by submitting a form to a local VA office. There is a one-time stipend given to help families cover the cost of their loved one’s final arrangements. Depending on the cost of the funeral or cremation, this can be a big help. 

4. Charities and nonprofits

Similarly, many different charities and organizations privately help cover the cost of cremation and burial. There are more charities that help with funeral costs than you might think. When loved ones pass unexpectedly, non-profit groups are there to help reduce this burden for family members. What types of organizations help with final expenses?

  • Religious groups and churches
  • Children’s burial assistance (for infants and children)
  • Consumer advocate organizations
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Your first step should be to reach out to local groups in your community. If you’re a member of any organizations, groups, or religious communities, these can be a huge resource. Don’t underestimate the role of community help. 

5. Crowdfunding

Last but not least, it’s becoming more and more common for people to crowdfund funeral assistance. While not the right fit for everyone, this can be an effective way to raise money quickly. When you crowdfund, you create a fundraiser online to raise money quickly and digitally. 

Thanks to the power of the internet, it’s easier than ever to spread awareness about your cause online. People far and wide can contribute money toward a monetary goal, and this money can be used specifically for covering final expenses. 

Tips for Saving Money on Cremation in North Carolina

With this in mind, you might also look for tips for saving money on cremations in North Carolina. While it’s hard to secure a free cremation, it’s very possible to reduce the overall cost with these ideas below. 

6. Choose a direct cremation

First, the easiest way to keep costs down is to choose a direct cremation. Compared to a traditional cremation, this can save you thousands of dollars. Direct cremations start at around $500 in North Carolina, and they are much faster and more affordable. 

Unlike a traditional cremation, the body is cremated soon after death with a direct cremation. There are no special preparation steps or caskets used. It’s a very quick, efficient process, and it keeps the overall cost low. Similar to a traditional cremation, you still have your loved one’s ashes after the cremation is complete, and you can still hold a memorial service. 

7. Shop around

Did you know you can shop around for the best price with final expenses? Just like when shopping for any other big purchase, you don’t have to go with the first funeral home you find. Instead, shop around and ask for clear pricing upfront. The price might be more flexible than you think. 

8. Buy the urn online

Another option is to buy your loved one’s urn online. While there is often an expectation that you have to purchase the urn from the funeral home, this isn't actually true. You can always purchase your own urn online, skip the urn altogether, or make your own. 

With some urns costing several hundreds of dollars, don’t feel pressured to buy the most expensive one at the funeral showroom. There are many low-cost, meaningful options that are just as special. 

9. Plan ahead

Believe it or not, the best way to save on a cremation is to plan ahead. Though not always possible, if you can take matters into your own hands, you can save your family a lot of stress. Purchasing cremation insurance or putting money aside on your own means your family doesn't have to make these decisions themselves. 

10. Hold an alternative funeral

Lastly, there’s no reason to hold an expensive funeral at a funeral home if it’s not in your budget. Instead, if you’re choosing cremation, you can feel free to hold the memorial service anywhere that makes sense to you. From your family home to a local park, this is all about sharing your loved one’s memory. 

Don’t pay for more than you need to. The funeral isn’t supposed to be a show of wealth. It’s an opportunity to honor your loved one. This is priceless. 

Get a Low-Cost Cremation in North Carolina

Ultimately, there are a lot of options when it comes to getting a low-cost cremation in North Carolina. Though there aren’t any state-wide resources, there is a lot of community support in North Carolina there to help. Experiencing grief after a loss is completely normal, and you don’t have to take these next steps alone. 

Have you recently lost a loved one? We’re here to help. Explore the next steps in our interactive post-loss checklist to make sure you’re on the right track. 

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