Many of us struggle with our finances even living paycheck to paycheck. When the time comes that a relative dies, we dig deep into our pockets and bank accounts and find that there isn’t enough money to pay for the funeral.
It is all too easy to say that the funeral should be planned ahead of time. Ideally, we should be pre-paying for the funeral of our immediate family, ourselves included, a little at a time. If you think about it, many funeral plans can be paid in installments over a year, two, or even ten years.
But what do you do when the funeral installments you made are no longer enough? When you realize that the prepaid prices are not locked in and you are expected to pay several hundred or thousands more after the funeral, what is there to do?
Also, not everyone can plan a funeral ahead of time. This is especially worth noting for the unexpected death of a relative. It also happens that the relative incurred hospital bills that made it less possible for the family to prepare the costs for the funeral.
How much is a funeral in Singapore?
In Singapore, funerals cost around $6,000 to $8,500 on average. In addition, if you factor in the cost of burial at a local cemetery, the costs can escalate to $10,000 minimum. Cremation costs can be significantly lower at $1,000 lowest price. It is no surprise that many fall into debt after a loved one dies. Now, what happens when there is not a single penny you can use for the funeral? There are several ways to bury the dead when you’re financially in the red:Have you checked their life insurance policy?
If the deceased has a life insurance policy, be sure to look into it for assistance in funeral and burial services. Even if you are unaware of whether or not the deceased has life insurance, it is worth finding out. You may also inquire from their employer if they have an insurance policy that you can claim.
Have you claimed their benefits?
Be sure to process all the benefits you can claim from the state, company or any other professional unions the deceased is affiliated with. Don’t forget claiming the Social Security benefit as well. The immediate family should claim all benefits they are entitled to like the one-time death benefit claim. These may not cover all the expenses for the funeral but it can definitely help.
A meaningful funeral service need not be too costly. For instance, direct cremation can be a more affordable option than purchasing a cemetery lot and paying for the burial. You can hold a small funeral service at the crematorium or a memorial service later on.
Did you ask for help from other relatives?
There is no reason why you should take all the financial burden of the funeral costs on your shoulders. Relatives and close family friends may be willing to lighten your load. If you need help, do ask for it. One good way of asking for financial help is if you have a funeral budget plan and expenses sheet for this purpose. You can show it to your relatives so they can see where they can contribute. They may even share tips on how to lessen the overall expenses you have to pay for.
Have you tried Crowdfunding?
Also known as crowdsourcing, you can seek help from your local and international community to help raise the funds you need for the funeral and burial services. This way, you can ask for financial assistance from everyone who knows the deceased, not just relatives and business associates. Even random people and philanthropists may be moved to help you out.
Crowdfunding is often done online and works best if you have large community outreach. However, be wise about online sites that have high fees. You may also opt to hold a fundraiser in other creative ways like garage sales, selling stuff online, and walking fundraisers.
Should you borrow money?
While asking for help is better than borrowing money, you may be forced to take out a funeral loan due to lack of resources. You can check out banks or credit unions that offer funeral loans. However, do know that if you have a bad credit history, such personal loan may be denied. You can still borrow from friends and relatives if need be. If possible, avoid applying for a cash advance on your credit card as the high-interest charges could mean high debt for you months after the funeral.
The local and state government may also pitch in to give your loved one a proper funeral and burial. You can also look into faith-based programs to cover the funeral expenses. The church may hold their own fundraising to help the family.
If all else fails, you can visit your county’s coroner office and sign a release form to say that you cannot afford to bury your relative. Signing this release form will place the body in the hands of the county. The ashes may be buried in a common grave with other unclaimed ashes. If you do not sign a release form, you may forego claiming the body but you won’t know where the local authorities will take the body. Some counties also offer the family an option to pay for the ashes they wish to claim.
Have you considered donating the body for important research?
Scientific and medical organizations study the body of the dead as part of vital research. If you plan towards this route, you need to make arrangements ahead of time. This is not something you have the option to pursue if the death caught you by surprise. In case you are able to make arrangements for the donation of the body to science, they will pay for the transportation and cremation of the body.