Burial insurance often is just a contract that is set up with a funeral home or mortuary to take care of the final details for burial following death. The funeral home is paid upfront and the deceased is considered to have a prepaid burial. There is no guarantee however that all the expenses of the funeral and burial will be covered by this agreement, particularly when the arrangements have been made long in advance of the death. Costs rise and expenses are not always covered by the initial agreement, even though the deceased may have purchased the contract in good faith that all the bills would be covered, putting no strain on the family left behind.
Other life insurance plans allow for enough benefits to pay for the full amount of the burial. A funeral home may be listed as the primary beneficiary on a life insurance policy to cover final expenses with leftover funds being disbursed to the beneficiaries named in the will. The executor of the will is responsible for making the final arrangements for the deceased, using whatever means are available. When no specific burial insurance was obtained, the payouts from other life insurance policies can be used to cover the costs. Most life insurance polices can be cashed out within days of providing a death certificate. Once insurance has been used, other assets can be sold to cover the remaining costs before the final beneficiary disbursements are made.
When no insurance or other assets are available for burial, the family and the estate must bear the cost of the procedures. The executor of the estate may review the entire holdings and decide on an amount that is feasible to offer a funeral home and design a burial that falls within the budget. Family members may discuss the options, although it is the decision of the executor that is final and binding. Cremation and the cost of an urn can cost as little as $1,000, while elaborate caskets, embalming, visitation in a funeral home and burial in a vault can cost well over $25,000 or more. Local medical schools can be contacted to see if they are interested in receiving the body as a donation. While various jurisdictions have different policies, all municipalities are required by law to provide burial or cremation for those who cannot afford it, usually indigents with no family or no one willing to claim the body. Possible sources of payment can come from veteran's benefits or a Social Security $225 lump sum payment. The common public practice is to spend the least amount of tax dollars and dispose of the body by cremation.