Paying For Funeral Costs When Someone You Love Is A Victim Of Homicide

Posted on: 10 December 2015

When someone dies as a result of a violent crime, friends and family members are left dealing with a lot of emotional and financial fall-out, not the least of which is dealing with the expense of a funeral. A traditional funeral now costs between $7,000 and $10,000. Funeral directors estimate that only one murder victim out of ten has life insurance. What can families of the deceased do when they lack the funds for a funeral? Here are some possibilities. 

Contact Victim's Assistance Programs For Help

Each state has different victim assistance programs that will assist the family members of homicide victims. In most states, there's compensation available to help family members get counseling as well as pay for a funeral. They will often provide a small amount for a marker or headstone as well.

Keep in mind, however, that the available amount of compensation is often less than the current cost of a full funeral. Funding amounts are regulated by state laws, which often lag behind inflation. If you go over the amount that the fund provides, you'll be responsible for the rest. Consider opting for a cremation instead of a burial. Cremation through a funeral home will still allow you to hold services for the deceased and can lower the overall cost to between $2,000 to $4,000.

There are some drawbacks to this idea, however. Some state programs are slow to pay, so make sure that the funeral home you choose is willing to accept delayed payment. Also, victims who were committing a crime themselves at the time of their murder aren't eligible for payments. So, for example, if someone was killed during a drug deal, the family would not be able to receive any compensation.

Donate The Body For Research

Donating the deceased's body for medical research may be a satisfying way to not only find meaning out of a needless death, it can also save on some expenses. Typically, there is no cost for a casket or burial when a body is donated for research purposes. Bodies are usually cremated after they are finished serving their purpose, and the cremated remains are made available to the family. If you donate to a medical school or facility, the deceased will eventually be honored in a group memorial service approximately 18 months after donation.

If you still want to hold a small service at a funeral home, you could do so, with a photo of the deceased standing in place of the body. Alternately, a quiet service could be held in a private setting, such as a relative's home.

Keep in mind, however, that not all victims of violence will be eligible for donation. If the deceased was HIV positive, had hepatitis, had certain venereal diseases, was severely obese, or suffered extensive trauma, the body won't be accepted.

Turn To The Community For Assistance

If other solutions won't work for your situation, consider turning to the community around you for support. Local churches, businesses, and even private individuals may be willing to donate to provide for basic funeral costs, especially when the circumstances involve something as tragic as a murder.

Another fundraising option is to go through so-called "crowdfunding" websites, which allow you to explain your situation and solicit funds. They make it easy for not only friends and family to donate, but for people to spread the word of the need for assistance through the power of online social media.

Just be careful which crowdfunding platform you choose, if you decide to go this route. Some charge more than others for their use, and some require you to meet your whole goal before you can access the funds.

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