If someone passes away, it's up to the family or Next of Kin to plan the funeral. But sometimes, the family can't afford the funeral, or there is no Next of Kin. In Australia, Paupers Funerals help families arrange a funeral when they can't afford to do it themselves.
In this guide, we'll discuss what happens when a family can't afford a funeral or dies with no Next of Kin and what options are available to help arrange a respectable burial for an individual who has passed away.
What if the family cannot afford the funeral?
If your estate or your family can't afford the funeral cost, it's referred to as a 'Pauper's Funeral', this means that the authorities liaise with funeral directors to coordinate a pauper’s funeral. Then arrangements are made for a state-funded funeral.
Typically, a pauper's funeral takes place at a crematorium unless the coroner or medical examiner has advised otherwise. However, if the deceased person left a Will that expressed different wishes, then those are fulfilled. The grave is left unmarked, and the public record stores plot number.
What if someone dies without a close relative or Next of Kin?
When someone dies alone in Australia, generally any relatives or friends will be contacted (if possible) to notify them of the person's death. Then, if they'd like to arrange the funeral, the family covers the cost.
A government contractor will arrange the funeral in a situation where the Next of Kin is found but wants nothing to do with organising the person's funeral. However, the authorities do their best to keep families informed about the funeral details to attend if they wish.
Six affordable funeral options
Fortunately, for those who need it, there are affordable funeral options. Here are six affordable funeral options that could save you and your family from financial hardship.
1) Direct Cremation
A great low-cost funeral option is a 'direct cremation'. A direct cremation allows the family to carry out the cremation of a loved one without involving a funeral home or arranging a ceremony. Instead, the family receives the ashes and can plan a memorialised funeral when the time is right.
2) Centrelink bereavement payment
If you're an Australian citizen and dealing with the loss of a partner, you may be eligible for Centrelink bereavement payments. The Australian federal government provides several payments to help when a loved one dies. The type and amount of the payment depend on individual circumstances.
Australian citizens have access to the following Centrelink bereavement payments:
- Partner Allowance
- Pension Bonus Bereavement Payment
- Carer's Allowance
- Double Orphan Pension
- Stillborn Baby Payment
3) Department of Veterans' Affairs
Australia's Department of Veterans' Affairs could offer financial assistance towards the funeral costs if your loved one were an ex-servicewoman or man. If you're the spouse or carer of the deceased person and they were receiving a pension from the Department of Veteran Affairs, you may be eligible for a bereavement payment.
4) Early access to Superannuation
You can access your superannuation on compassionate grounds, including funeral expenses for your dependant. However, according to the Australian government, if you're applying to pay for costs associated with the death, funeral or burial, you're required to provide:
- A copy of your dependant's death certificate, or
- A letter from your dependant's registered medical practitioner or funeral provider stating who passed away, the date of death and the medical practitioner's agency number.
5) State-based government funeral assistance
If there is no money to pay for the funeral, some states and territories in Australia can provide government assistance. To access state-based funds, families need to meet strict criteria. The specific requirements will depend on the state.
6) Prepaid funerals
In addition to preparing your Will, Australian's are starting to prepay for their funerals. The concept, although relatively new, is an easy way to save your family from financial hardship when you pass away. It also allows you to make sure your funeral is exactly as you wish. Through a funeral service provider, you can arrange and pay for your funeral in advance.
Preparing for your death is grim. But taking action like preparing a Will, assigning an executor and leaving expenses for your funeral is an easy way to save complications for your family after you pass away. If you're just getting started in planning your estate, consider starting with your Will. With Willed, the process is fast, easy and legally valid.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice.