What to Do When a Family Won't Pay for Funeral Services

Death is one of the constant realities of life. Normally the family of the deceased will step forward and have a funeral, paying for the costs of the burial and/or cremation. While there is no law that forces people to pay for a funeral, other options can be taken if and when a deceased person's family won't pay for these often expensive costs.

At-Home Funeral

If the family wants to have a funeral for the deceased, but they don't want to buy into the commercial aspects of funerals, there is a simple option they can take. Provided that the family has property that they can bury their loved one in, it is legal in most states to have a home funeral. The services can be conducted in the family's home, and they can bury the body themselves. This is not only a major money saver, but it's also extremely green since an unembalmed body is easily decomposed.

Estate Payment

If a person's family refuses to pay for a funeral because they can't afford it, that doesn't mean that a funeral cannot be paid for. Often, arrangements can be made so that the costs of a funeral come out of the deceased person's estate. Some people will make arrangements before their death so that the payments automatically come out of their estate. Other times, arrangements can be made through the person or persons handling the deceased person's estate. How expensive the service is usually depends on how much money is in the estate.

Government Funeral

The last option that should be explored is a government-funded funeral. According to, many counties in the United States will hold publicly funded funerals. These funerals are held only for the indigent who die in the county. So if a family refuses to pay for the costs of a funeral, won't have it at their home, and the deceased's estate is too small to pay for the costs of the services, the local government may be able to fund the funeral. This isn't an option in all areas, but it is common enough that it's worth looking into.

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About the Author

Neal Litherland is an author, blogger and occasional ghostwriter. His experience includes comics, role playing games and a variety of other projects as well. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Indiana University, and resides in Northwest Indiana.