Financial Help with Funeral Costs

Information on what financial help is available for your loved one’s funeral

Last updated: 29 November 2016

If you have been asked to take care of the funeral arrangements for a loved one, you may be worried about how you are going to pay. Although it is true that the person arranging the funeral is responsible for covering the costs, there are many financial resources available that can help you pay for these expenses.

Your loved one’s estate

Funeral costs are often paid for by your loved one’s estate, so it is important that you research the value of your loved one’s estate as soon as possible.

Your loved one’s bank account and other finances become part of their estate when they die, meaning that you cannot access them, or use their ATM card, until their will has been through a legal process called probate. If your loved one had sufficient funds in their account, funeral expenses can eventually be reclaimed from the bank via the estate. You will need to show the bank a copy of the death certificate issued after your loved one’s death was registered.

If you held a joint account with your loved one, you will still be able to access your account.

You should notify the bank as soon as possible when a loved one dies.

Some funeral directors will allow payment to be delayed until your loved one’s assets have been unfrozen. In the event that this doesn’t happen, or your loved one’s estate cannot cover the cost of the funeral, other payment options need to be explored.

Insurance or pre-paid funeral plans

Health or life insurance may help to pay for funeral costs. Evidence of these payment schemes should appear in your loved one’s bank account, as they often require monthly instalments. Also details of these accounts are often shared with those closest to the account holder, or referred to in the will. Call the insurance plan provider as soon as possible to find out if assistance is available.

Pre-paid funeral plans are another way to cover the cost of a funeral. If your loved one told you about a pre-paid plan, contact the plan provider as soon as possible to begin funeral arrangements. If you suspect that your loved one did have pre-paid funeral plan, but you are not sure who the provider is, details may have been left with their solicitor, or mentioned in their will.

Government assistance

After the death of a loved one, you may be entitled to financial support from the Australian Government, depending on your circumstances. These payments may help you pay for funeral expenses. Government assistance available includes:

  • Bereavement Allowance for recently widowed people
  • Bereavement Payment after the death of a partner, child or dependant
  • Pension Bonus Bereavement Payment for the surviving partner of someone who was a member of the Pension Bonus Scheme, but did not make a successful claim for the bonus
  • Widow Allowance, sometimes called Widow’s Pension, for widowed women born before 1 July 1955 with no recent work experience
  • Parental Leave Pay, Stillborn Baby Payment or Dad and Partner Pay if you have experienced a stillbirth or infant death
  • Bereavement assistance from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs if your loved one was a veteran.

Read more about government bereavement benefits.

To learn about the costs involved in planning a funeral, go to our cost of a funeral page.