The death of a loved one is always a difficult time, and sometimes these events are made even tougher to deal with when they are sudden and unexpected. Figuring out how to raise the funds to cover funeral expenses can sometimes be a long and drawn out process during an already stressful time, and can bring further anguish to yourself and to your family. What do you do if you can’t afford to pay for your loved one’s funeral in full?

Whether a Death is Sudden or You’ve Had Some Time to Prepare…

In many respects, the circumstances surrounding the death of a loved one are irrelevant. Whether they die after a long period of failing health or dealing with illness, or if they suddenly pass away, it can be a huge shock to come to terms with the fact they’re no longer with us.

Yet, if there is a difference, it is that if you have family members dealing with ill health over a long period, you do sometimes have the chance and are able to prepare for what’s to come, both emotionally and financially. Some people who know they’re dying will start to organise their own affairs, while it is becoming more common for people even in their 30’s to be paying into their own funeral plan.

Families of those who die suddenly, on the other hand, can’t do any of this. The thought of planning and paying for your loved one’s funeral was probably nowhere near your thoughts before you heard they had died.

However, with estimated funeral costs sitting anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000, meeting this demand can be difficult, particularly if you have a loved one die interstate or abroad and you need to pay to bring them home, too.

What steps can you take if you find yourself in either of these awful situations?

Try Not to Panic

We know you have so much on your mind, so while it is easier said than done, in many ways it’s the most important thing you can do.

That feeling of dread you have because you think you should know what to do can be dismissed immediately. It’s fine that you don’t know what you’re doing or are supposed to do, and guess what – No-one expects you to know, so stop putting all that pressure on yourself.

  • Try to take some time to get organised, either by yourself or with a friend or family member that can help you.
  • Write down a list of everything that you need to do. In the case of a sudden death this might include calling creditors, employers, and taking on or dealing with some of the responsibilities they had.
  • Prioritise the list in order of what you need to do now, and what can wait. Then look to put a timescale on when you’ll tie everything up.
  • Once you have a plan, call again on your friends and relatives to help.This is all going to be difficult to do, but it will be a lot easier, and you will deal with a much clearer approach, if you’re able to be calm and not panic.

What do You Need?

Once you have your prioritised “to do” list, you can start thinking about getting together everything you need.

What you need will depend on the situation you’re in, such as whether a death was sudden or to what extent a loved one who had been ill for some time had their affairs in order.

We’re going to look specifically here at the financial considerations you will need to make:

  1. What do you need to do? What do you want to do? How can you meet your financial needs at this sad time?
  2. How much money do you need to cover funeral costs and bringing your loved one home? Do you need to cover any additional costs?
  3. Can you afford to meet the expense yourself?
  4. If you can’t afford to meet the expense, what, if any, financial help is available?
  5. If you can’t afford the expense and there is no financial help available, what are your options?


Younger man wiping tears from eyes funeral

Younger man wiping tears from eyes funeral

Answering These Questions…And Making a Decision

What you decide to do will depend on how you answer the questions above. We’ve collected some of your potential options below, which may aid your decision making process.

Use Your Savings to Cover Expenses

Your savings are probably available as you need and want them. As such, that’s the solution many Australians choose.

We can see why you’d do this without even thinking about it, but we do recommend you take some time to consider whether it’s the best step for you and your circumstances. You might have been saving a home deposit or to buy a new car. If you want to use your savings for that, can you consider another solution? No-one is going to think ill of you if you decide against spending your own savings.

Use Your Credit Card to Cover Expenses

If you have some credit balance available on your credit card, this can be another appealing solution. You have the money available to spend now, so you can just use it to cover the necessary costs.

However, you should remember that unless you’re able to clear your balance quickly you could end up paying more in interest on top of the actual expense itself.

Use a Funeral Loan or a Payment Plan to Cover Expenses

A funeral loan or payment plan is a personal loan that you can take out to cover your loved one’s funeral costs. Once you have an idea from the funeral director how much the funeral and any associated costs will be, you can apply for a funeral loan or payment plan for that amount, and usually the funds can be paid directly to the funeral director.

Such a solution may be useful at this stressful time as you can go through a quick application process, get the funds you need in a matter of days, and repay at a rate affordable to you. A quick solution such as a funeral loan or payment plan may then free you up to focus on other things.

Before You do Anything, You Might Want to Speak to a Financial Adviser

Remember what we said earlier? If you don’t know where to start, that’s fine.

If you’re struggling to weigh up your best options for covering your loved one’s funeral expenses, consider speaking to a financial adviser first. They may be able to help you get your affairs – or the affairs of the deceased – into some sort of order and look at what the best option might be based on your circumstances.


If you are considering or searching for an affordable and flexible payment plan to cover funeral costs, you can apply online or learn more about how MacCredit can help by clicking here, alternatively contact us online by leaving your details on our page.


Disclaimer:  This article contains general comments and recommendations only. This article has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before taking any action you should consider the appropriateness of the comments made in the article, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. If this article relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular credit product you should obtain and consider the relevant disclosure documents before applying for the product.