Check for money the deceased may have already allocated

Organize a Funeral

When creating an end-of-life plan, one may choose to ease the financial burden for their surviving family by pre-paying for their own funeral, creating a funeral trust, or setting aside funds that can only be allocated towards the funeral.

Therefore, it's important to check to see if the deceased planned in advance, by reviewing end-of-life documents such as their last will and testament and contracts with local funeral homes.

These documents will not only identify the amount of money allocated, but in some cases, the specific caskets, urns, or services that the deceased may have chosen.

If you cannot find these documents, speak with the family's estate attorney, financial advisor, or power of attorney, who may be able to provide copies of the will, funeral trust, or contracts with local providers.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know Sometimes information on prepaid plans or allocated funds are stored separately from a will. Look for these documents where the deceased stored important paperwork, such as insurance policies, passports, birth certificates, and Social Security cards.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about pre-paying for a funeral, see the "Plan for the future" section of the Guide.

Helpful Tips


Funeral insurance is an insurance policy with a death benefit that is to be used to pay funeral and burial costs. They may provide a surviving family with $5,000 - $25,000 depending upon the policy.

A funeral trust is an arrangement with a funeral services provider for a pre-paid plan that locks-in prices at the time of the agreement.

Both funeral insurance and funeral trusts will list a beneficiary to receive benefits after a death. This person should be the one to contact the provider to submit a claim for benefits.

Otherwise, the surviving spouse, other immediate family, or any person named in the will responsible for carrying out "final disposition" instructions should submit the claim.

In order to receive benefits, the beneficiary will likely need a copy of death certificate and a copy of the will if they are named in the Will.

A burial fund is money set aside to pay for burial expenses. For example, this money can be in a bank account, other financial instrument, or a prepaid burial arrangement.

The Social Security Administration will allow for what's known as an "SSI excluded burial fund" that sets aside $1,500 for burial expenses that won't be considered an asset, or income, for the purpose of calculating one's Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility.

This excluded burial fund should be noted in the deceased's will, but there's no guarantee it will be.

Check the will first, then review other important documents of the deceased, and speak with the funeral service provider.

Learn more about SSI burial funds from the Social Security Administration

Personal Considerations


Did the deceased have a Will?


Read it carefully to determine whether the deceased set aside money to pay for the funeral.

Information about the funeral is typically found under "Final Disposition" instructions, but may be contained anywhere in the deceased's will.

For example, it may just say that life insurance or funeral insurance proceeds are supposed to be used to pay funeral expenses.

If you have difficulty understanding what's written, or if there's any confusion about the will's details, speak with the family's estate attorney, financial advisor, or power of attorney who may be able to help.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about the deceased's last will and testament, see the "Locate the will" chapter of the Guide.


Confirm that the deceased did not have any documents that identify prepaid funeral plans.

Contact local funeral homes or crematoriums to confirm, even if you have not yet found any paperwork.


If the deceased had a will:

Read it carefully to determine whether the deceased set aside money to pay for the funeral.

Information about the funeral is typically found under "Final Disposition" instructions, but may be contained anywhere in the deceased's will.

For example, it may just say that life insurance or funeral insurance proceeds are supposed to be used to pay funeral expenses.

If you have difficulty understanding what's written, or if there's any confusion about the will's details, speak with the family's estate attorney, financial advisor, or power of attorney who may be able to help.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about the deceased's last will and testament, see the "Locate the will" chapter of the Guide.

If the deceased did not have a will:

Confirm that the deceased did not have any documents that identify prepaid funeral plans.

Contact local funeral homes or crematoriums to confirm, even if you have not yet found any paperwork.


Did the deceased have life insurance?


Review the policy to see if it includes specific funeral benefits. If so, contact the provider to determine the right process for obtaining funds.

Funeral insurance, also known as burial insurance, provides far less coverage than regular life insurance, usually between $8,000 - $15,000.

This is in contrast to a general life insurance policy which is used to cover a broad range of financial needs, such as income replacement, college education costs, or a mortgage.

Additionally, many funeral or burial policies will only cover the immediate costs of a funeral or memorial service, so also make sure to review the deceased's policy to see what is specifically available.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information on how to submit a life insurance claim, see the "File a life insurance claim" section of the Guide.


Guides_Icon.svgRead More Learn about other ways to fund a funeral by reading the "Review benefits and other compensation" section of the Guide.


If the deceased had life insurance:

Review the policy to see if it includes specific funeral benefits. If so, contact the provider to determine the right process for obtaining funds.

Funeral insurance, also known as burial insurance, provides far less coverage than regular life insurance, usually between $8,000 - $15,000.

This is in contrast to a general life insurance policy which is used to cover a broad range of financial needs, such as income replacement, college education costs, or a mortgage.

Additionally, many funeral or burial policies will only cover the immediate costs of a funeral or memorial service, so also make sure to review the deceased's policy to see what is specifically available.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information on how to submit a life insurance claim, see the "File a life insurance claim" section of the Guide.

If the deceased did not have life insurance:

Guides_Icon.svgRead More Learn about other ways to fund a funeral by reading the "Review benefits and other compensation" section of the Guide.

Providers to Contact


Probate Attorneys Near You

If there are discrepancies or confusion about a deceased person's will, or about funeral or burial insurance, speak with a probate attorney. They can ensure you comply with the state and federal probate laws while settling a deceased person’s estate.

No results in your area.


Organize a Funeral