Did a family member or close friend from Wisconsin recently die, leaving behind no financial resources? If so, you might be researching free or low-cost cremation.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Places or Programs That Offer Free Cremation in Wisconsin
- Tips for Saving Money on Cremation in Wisconsin
Fortunately, there are resources available that offer free or low-cost cremation services in Wisconsin for those who qualify. In addition, we have discovered some resources that might help you with end-of-life expenses for those who didn’t leave behind any assets. We will also provide you with tips on saving money on cremation in Wisconsin.
Will the State of Wisconsin Pay for a Cremation?
Wisconsin’s Funeral and Cemetery Aids Program (WFCAP) was designed to pay providers up to $1,500 for unmet funeral/burial expenses and $1,000 for unmet cemetery/crematory expenses. The decedent must qualify by being enrolled in one of the following programs:
- BadgerCare Plus
- Wisconsin Works
- Elderly, Blind, or Disabled (EBD) related Medicaid recipient.
- Home and Community-Based Waiver (Group A, B, and B+).
- Family Care
- Tuberculosis (TB)-related Medicaid
- Katie Beckett Medicaid
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- SSI State Supplement (SSI-SSP)
- SSI Medicaid recipient who was a Wisconsin resident
In some cases, the decedent would have qualified for one of the previously-listed programs if they had completed the enrollment process before death. If that describes your friend or family member’s situation, help may still be available.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services website instructs those connected with the deceased to speak with a funeral, cemetery, or crematory service provider to obtain these state-level resources.
Here are some additional resources for those looking for free or inexpensive cremation in Wisconsin.
Places or Programs That Offer Free Cremation in Wisconsin
Most charities that help with funeral costs do so for specific populations or situations. Here are some programs that might help if your loved one didn’t qualify for Wisconsin’s Funeral and Cemetery Aids Program.
It’s worth noting that if the family is (or the deceased had been) opposed to the idea of cremation, some organizations may assist the family with a direct burial.
Here are some other organizations to reach out to if you need help paying for end-of-life services for a person who died in Wisconsin.
1. FEMA Funeral Assistance for COVID-19
If your loved one died directly or indirectly of COVID, there might be funds available to help pay for funeral expenses. The contact number for the COVID-19 funeral assistance line number is 844-684-6333.
According to the statistics available on the FEMA website, families in Wisconsin that qualified received an average of $6,522 to spend on funeral expenses. This is well above the average cost of a direct cremation in Wisconsin.
2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
If your loved one served in the U.S. military, they might be eligible for veteran death benefits. Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to find out what help is available. A full-service funeral home or cremation provider should be able to help you obtain these benefits.
3. Children’s Burial Assistance, Inc.
Children’s Burial Assistance is a non-profit organization developed to assist families with the end-of-life services of deceased minor children. Even though the organization is located in Atlanta, it helps families across the country.
4. Final Farewell
Some families don’t purchase life insurance policies for their children. If a child dies, the family may need help with the burial costs. Final Farewell is another child-focused organization that helps parents pay for end-of-life services. They also provide emotional guidance to families in mourning.
5. The TEARS Foundation
You may also consider reaching out to the TEARS Foundation for other child-specific resources. The TEARS Foundation directly pays funeral homes up to $500 for end-of-life service costs.
6. Crime Victims Compensation Program (CVCP)
If your loved one died due to a homicide, your family might be eligible to receive assistance with the funeral costs. The maximum benefit is $6,620, and it can be used toward the cost of burial, cremation, cemetery plot, headstone, and funeral service.
In addition, immediate family members of homicide victims may receive up to 12 grief-counseling sessions and limited wage replacement benefits.
7. Helpful Hearts Foundation
Helpful Hearts Foundation was established to assist some low-income residents in need of burial or cremation services that don’t meet Wisconsin’s Funeral and Cemetery Aids Program (WFCAP) eligibility requirements. This support is geared toward families who do not have life insurance.
Currently, the organization is only able to accept applications from residents of the following Wisconsin counties:
- Eau Claire
8. Funeral Consumers Alliance
The Funeral Consumers Alliance doesn’t pay for cremation, but it does help people find low-cost cremation and burial options.
9. Speak with the funeral director
Your local funeral director would be a great source to help you uncover local organizations that may help with your loved one’s cremation costs. Reach out to a funeral director soon after the death occurs because once the body is moved from the location of death, you will be responsible for transportation and storage fees.
Even if there aren’t any organizations that will help you with the cremation costs, some funeral homes allow you to make payments for funeral services.
10. Reach out to your local church
Churches and other religious organizations often assist local families in need.
11. Employer of the deceased
If the deceased was employed at the time of death, there might be a death benefit policy paid by the company that can be used for funeral expenses. Contact the company’s human resources department for assistance. In addition, union employees and their families are also sometimes eligible for death benefits.
Tips for Saving Money on Cremation in Wisconsin
Your situation might not warrant receiving financial assistance from one of the proceeding organizations. However, here are some other tips for saving money on cremation and funeral expenses.
Please don’t feel bad for trying to find low-cost end-of-life services. The amount you spend on a funeral has nothing to do with the amount of love and respect you had for the deceased.
12. Learn about direct cremation
Direct cremation occurs when the deceased is transported from the place of death to the crematory. Once the necessary paperwork is completed, the body is cremated, and the remains are returned to the family.
Funeral homes in Wisconsin offer this low-price option. In addition, there are direct cremation providers that provide this service.
The direct cremation providers vary in the level of services they offer. For example, some allow the family to observe the cremation at their facility. In contrast, direct cremation providers may not have a facility and instead contract out the cremation from other providers in the area. Most direct cremation providers do not have a space for funeral services, but some will assist you in planning a memorial service at a neighborhood venue.
Finally, some cremation providers will take care of the remains for the family. For example, you may pay for the company to scatter your loved one’s ashes at sea or place the remains in a scattering garden. On the other hand, some families may request to have the cremation ash shipped to their homes.
Direct cremation is typically the least expensive option of end-of-life services.
13. Consider donating your loved one’s body to science
Search for anatomical donation programs near you. Some of these programs, such as med schools, will pay for the body to be transported to the research facility. Then, once the body has been studied, the organization will pay for the cremation and return the cremains to the deceased’s family.
Please understand all of the fine print before you agree to donate your loved one’s body to science. Embalmed bodies are typically not accepted, so you’ll need to decide to donate relatively quickly.
Also, not all bodies are accepted to every program. Additionally, some may not pay for the transportation of the deceased to the facility – especially if the place of death occurred outside of the immediate area. Finally, some organizations do not return the remains to the family after the study, especially if the body was used to study forensic science.
Yes, you can crowdfund a funeral. Before the term crowdfunding existed, funeral homes would help families in need by facilitating the gathering of funds from donors. But, of course, the deceased’s family can now send a link to a crowdfunding website to extended family and friends.
We Want to Help
We understand how the death of a person close to you can wreak havoc on your life. While grieving your loss, you might be worried about contacting the family and friends of the deceased. Perhaps it’s your responsibility to empty the deceased’s apartment, which needs to be done by the end of the month to avoid additional charges. Maybe you are trying to plan a funeral on a budget because you want to allow others to gather to share memories and comfort one another.
Regardless of your situation, Cake is here to help. We have a wealth of resources available for those experiencing the grief and trauma of loss.