It is an unpleasant thought, but death is a reality we all must face. One way to cope with the loss of a loved one is to be prepared for their final send-off. Funerals are expensive. For Medicaid recipients and their families, it is unlikely they will have the money to cover them when the time comes.
Many people are unaware that there is coverage to help families lay their loved ones to rest. Depending on your state, Medicaid may cover some funeral costs and other final expenses.
How Much Does an Average Funeral Cost?
In 2021, the average cost of a funeral, including viewing and burial, was $7,848, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
The average cremation cost with a service was $6,970.
Does Medicaid Pay for Cremation?
If a person does not have life insurance and is a Medicaid recipient, burial or cremation costs could bankrupt a family. Most people need as much help available when facing such a massive expense.
Fortunately, Medicaid recipients may receive assistance with either burial or cremation. It is unlikely that the assistance will cover the entire service, but alleviating some of the cost is still an advantage.
How to Access Medicaid Funeral Assistance
Access to Medicaid funeral assistance varies depending on the state. While there is not an official checklist applicable to every state, here are some general tips that may help you obtain government assistance for a loved one’s final expenses:
- Talk to the Funeral Home — A conversation with the funeral home is worthwhile. The funeral director you work with is the primary resource for information about how people pay for their services. They may be able to offer advice about state resources, including Medicaid.
In addition, there are charities that help with funeral costs, and in some cases, state, and local funds available to cover expenses.
- Ensure You Found All Money Available — Your loved one may have had life insurance without you realizing it. You should double check every estate planning document they left behind. Seniors often leave information about their life insurance policies within their will.
If you serve as the executor, you should work with an estate planning attorney to ensure you have all the information available about what resources the deceased left to pay for their funeral expenses.
Thinking Ahead: Alternatives That Help Pay for Funeral Expenses
During your lifetime, even if you are not a Medicaid recipient, there may be other ways to make sure your own final expenses – or that of a loved one – are taken care of. Here are a couple of ways to help allocate money toward the funeral service, burial, or cremation:
- Irrevocable Funeral Trust — An irrevocable funeral trust is a trust that someone can create during their lifetime to help pay for their funeral. The terms of an irrevocable trust cannot be changed after the trust is created, so the money you put into an irrevocable funeral trust cannot be used for any other purpose.
A trust guarantees there will be money to give your loved one the send-off you and your family desire for them. Each state has a limit on the amount of money that can be placed into an irrevocable funeral trust. You should speak to an elder law attorney to determine if this is the best option for you.
- Set Money Aside in Your Will — Setting money aside in your will may seem like a simple solution that will secure funds for your funeral, but that may not be the case. The probate process involves using the estate assets to pay debts and give heirs their inheritance. Even if you allocate money for your funeral in your will, those funds may be used to pay an estate debt if creditors file a claim against the estate.
Learn More About Medicaid Funeral Assistance
If you are beginning to plan for a loved one’s funeral and have no idea where to start, speaking to an experienced attorney in your area is a good first step. Contact your attorney today.