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Paying for a Funeral

What to Do When You Can’t Afford a Funeral

Each year, some families in New Hampshire and Vermont can’t afford a funeral and need assistance interring the remains of a loved one. Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium has worked with more than 100 indigent families annually that simply don’t have the funds to give a departed family member a dignified farewell.

In fact, our ongoing help with funeral costs for residents in NH and VT prompted the creation of the Phaneuf Family Foundation, a non-profit with the primary mission of providing funds for some or all of the cost for a funeral.

Historically, communities interred the indigent population in “pauper’s graves,” sites donated by the town or church. Funeral directors provided the casket for free or a nominal fee.  Graves went unmarked until the family could afford a headstone.

Cemetery lots sell for more than $1,000 today, so in many cases the indigent deceased get cremated instead of buried.

Here are some options to look into for assistance in paying for a funeral:

Welfare benefit from city or town

In New Hampshire, many cities and towns provide a welfare benefit of $750 to the funeral home for handling the final disposition of an indigent person. The family of the deceased applies for the benefit and must prove that there are no other financial means to pay for a funeral or cremation. The welfare department researches the claim to ensure all other financial options are exhausted. This process sometimes happens on the same day of filing or may take up to a week.

Low-cost cremation

Phaneuf’s sister company, Cremation Society of New Hampshire (CSNH), offers a direct cremation for $1,325 (member cost) or $1,595 (non-member cost), as well as a discounted cremation for indigent families for $1,000, one of the lowest cost options for cremation in NH.  You may have heard direct cremation referred to as no-ceremony cremation, basic cremation or simple cremation. It is the final disposition of a body performed shortly after a death. It includes the transportation of the body to the crematorium and the body is typically cremated in a simple container, not a casket.

Our foundation

Some families that are able to receive the welfare benefit may still need additional funds for a direct cremation or simple funeral. Donations from Phaneuf Family Foundation are available for deceased residents of NH and VT, and the donations cover costs ranging from a transportation fee to a complete cremation. Requests for distributions for a cremation or funeral come from a family member, friend, funeral director, social worker, hospice or nursing home employee or other interested party.

Those who are eligible for the welfare benefit and foundation donation who also work with CSNH could ultimately receive a cremation for free.

Learn how to pay for a funeral here.

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